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Home JackpineRadical Rooms JPR Reading Room The Information Superhighway, The Feeling of Absurdity, Something is Inherently.

  • arendt (1035 posts)
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    The Information Superhighway, The Feeling of Absurdity, Something is Inherently.

    The Information Superhighway, The Feeling of Absurdity, Something is Inherently Wrong, Buried in a Snowstorm…

    This is a very thoughtful, almost meditative essay that recalls to mind all the warnings that were issued in the mid-twentieth century about the nature of information and of propaganda.

    Here’s the snip:

    Albert Camus once said that “at any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.”  While that is still true today, I would add that the feeling of an agitated and distracted bewilderment is everywhere to be seen as multitudes scan their idiot boxes for the latest revelations. Beeping and peeping, they momentarily quell their nervous anxieties by being informed and simulating proximity through the ether. Permanently busy in their mediated “reality,” they watch as streaming data are instantly succeeded by streaming data in acts of digital dementia. For Camus the absurd was a starting point for a freer world of rebellion. For Walter Lippman, the influential journalist and adviser to presidents and potentates, “the bewildered herd” – his name for regular people, the 99 % – was a beginning and a wished for end. His elites, the 1 %, would bewilder the herd in order to control them. His wish has come true.
    A surfeit of information, fundamental to modern propaganda, prevents people from forming considered judgments.  It paralyzes them. Jacques Ellul writes in Propaganda:

    Continuous propaganda exceeds the individual’s capacity for attention or adaptations. This trait of continuity explains why propaganda can indulge in sudden twists and turns.  It is always surprising that the content of propaganda can be so inconsistent that it can approve today what it condemned yesterday.

    …Wherever you go in the United States these days, you sense a generalized panic and an inability to slow down and focus.  Depression, anxiety, hopelessness fill the air.  Most people sense that something is seriously wrong, but don’t know exactly what. So they rage and rant and scurry along in a frenzy. It seems so huge, so everything, so indescribable.  Minds like pointilliste canvases with thousands of data dots and no connections.
    In the mid-1990s, when the electronic world of computers and the internet were being shoved down our throats by a consortium of national security state and computer company operatives (gladly swallowed then by many and now resulting in today’s total surveillance state), I became a member of The Lead Pencil Club foundered by Bill Henderson (The Pushcart Press) in honor of Thoreau’s father’s pencil factory and meant as a whimsical protest: “a pothole on the information superhighway.”  There were perhaps 37 1/3 members worldwide, no membership roll, and no dues – just a commitment to use pencils to write and think slowly.

    FanBoy, bemildred, dreamnightwind and 5 othersHubHeaver, bbgrunt, Tuesday, The Crone, Peace Patriot like this

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  • The Crone (2771 posts)
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    1. Some decent thoughts here.

    We are supposedly far better educated than people were in the days of Walter Lippman, yet people are not much wiser.

    Has prolonged schooling helped or hurt? And to have a career, many people have to be very narrowly focused, which almost ensures a lack of wisdom.

    I like the words written by the author: “Minds like pointilliste canvases with thousands of data dots and no connections. In the mid-1990s, when the electronic world of computers and the internet were being shoved down our throats by a consortium of national security state and computer company operatives (gladly swallowed then by many and now resulting in today’s total surveillance state),” and those words rub against the idea contained in the first few pages of the book “Irresistible” about the propensity for being on all the lovely devices that have addicted the majority of the nation’s citizens.

    That book opens with the reflection that so many of those who created the ubiquitous devices would not let their children use them! Even Steve Jobs refused to let his children have a screen or even an iPad in their bedrooms. His kids were given books, not devices.

    Thirty years ago, the national question was “Why can’t Dick and Jane read?” And today it is “Why can’t Tiffany and Jason think?”

    "Let us not seek the Republican answer nor the Democratic answer but the right answer." John F. Kennedy   America is the only country that has real   lemons in its furniture polish, and artificial lemon flavoring  in its lemonade!
    • FanBoy (6391 posts)
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      2. +100

    • jdpriestly (4426 posts)
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      3. Funny. My grandchildren are great thinkers.

      So much pessimism.  Every older generation in my lifetime has been pessimistic about the younger generation.  The information superhighway is wonderful.  I grew up with encyclopedias.  The internet allows us and our children to find out about all kinds of things.

      Computers and the internet are as good as the uses to which we put them.  It’s a matter of individual choice.

      No Truth!  No Trust!  Bernie or Bust!
      • FanBoy (6391 posts)
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        5. first generation with less income than its parents' at a comparable age.

        first generation with less retirement security than the one before.

        first generation to grow up in the shadow of mass homelessness not seen since the great depression.

        first generation to grow up in a mass surveillance state.

        yea, computers!

        • The Crone (2771 posts)
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          8. The size of the USA during the Depression

          Was approximately 110 million people. One out of four suffered. So that is a bit over 25 million people suffering.

          I remember recently, after the Housing and Stock Market tumble circa 2006 to 2012,  how much the media avoided the fact that eleven million homes were foreclosed on during Obama’s Reign of Terror. Since most households are composed of  more than one person, that is a huge number of people to end up being foreclosed.

          I remember too that soon after Obama’s election, you could turn on any and every single media outlet on TV and hear  that things were “approaching normal.” Once Obama and the Democratic Congress awarded the defense industry some 165 billions of dollars PLUS in the Autumn of 2009, then all of a sudden, things were great. Constant footage of the celebratory bells and whistles coming out of Wall Street. (Right now, every single media outlet except Fox is slamming Trump for his less than one half of the 2009 splurge for defense. Shows how the “liberal networks” have a bias.)

          Both Fox and Huffington Post have announced that some 92 million Americans are either semi-employed, not working full time, working at a job that is a level or several levels below what they were trained for, or totally unemployed. 92 million people out of 320 million! And yet, the “Recession of 2009” has been declared over for at least four years!

          ####

          "Let us not seek the Republican answer nor the Democratic answer but the right answer." John F. Kennedy   America is the only country that has real   lemons in its furniture polish, and artificial lemon flavoring  in its lemonade!
          • pinduck (1109 posts)
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            9. Good information in your post – Thanks.

            "Sometimes I feel like Fletcher Christian..."
      • The Crone (2771 posts)
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        6. We all know about the computer world's

        “Advantages.”

        But then talk to anyone specializing in the development of the neural network, and brain development of babies and young children, for a different view of what is going on.

        One of the most crucial stages to a human being’s development is that they crawl around and move around.

        I was just at a restaurant the other day and this young couple were delighted that they got their tiny infant to stop wiggling its head and sit still – in order for said infant to stare at an iPad device screen as though it were an adult.

        This baby was probably around 12 months old.

        It is also imperative that children and adults of all ages have a certain amount of time every day in which their spine, neck and head are looking straight forward and even up. i forget what not doing this affects on a bio chemical development range, but if Irrc, it has to do with brain waves. That as a society of people constantly staring

        D

        O

        W

        N

        at screens, we keep our brains entrained at the slower level of brain waves. Some researchers are saying that it could be that screen dependency in itself is responsible for so much ADHD.

        http://mentalhealthdaily.com/2014/04/15/5-types-of-brain-waves-frequencies-gamma-beta-alpha-theta-delta/

        From the above link: Our brain’s ability to become flexible and/or transition through various brain wave frequencies plays a large role in how successful we are at managing stress, focusing on tasks, and getting a good night’s sleep. If one of the five types of brain waves is either overproduced and/or under produced in our brain, it can cause problems. For this reason, it is important to understand that there is no single brain wave that is “better” or more “optimal” than the others.
        SNIP

        For example, if you are awake, but have really bad ADHD, you may have more slow wave (alpha and/or theta) activity than beta waves. During sleep usually there are combinations of the slower frequencies, but even gamma has been found to be involved in rapid-eye movement (REM). Below is a brief description of each brainwave state”

        ############################

        Now I am not saying that a certain amount of computer use is not good – but I think it might be wise to consider this: why are the four or five device developers mentioned in the opening section of “Irresistible” firmly in the camp that with regards to their offspring,  the less device interaction the better?

        As a closing note, I will mention an experience I had with my tremendously gifted friend Paul G.

        In the final days of his life, he remarked to me, “Now you have spent so much of your last five years away from Silicon Valley, and doing hospice work. It is odd to say this, but I have never felt so much like a human being until I was so sick and was surrounded by people in the health field. Maybe I did myself a disservice in devoting my life to developing technological devices and computer programs. It turns out that that is a very impersonal way to approach life.”

        Paul loved his life pursuing his computer inventions. I am not sure he would have been a good fit for a job in  the health professions. But he was known by many in Silicon Valley, and in his early adulthood had been approached by the “two Steve”s to give up his computer shop and come and work with them. If he had done that, he would have been Apple Employee number 4, 5 or 6.

        Yet in the end, he was frustrated by the continuing lack of “wisdom” that the computer technology world  allows for. At first, like the first twenty years or so, it is fun, fun, fun to develop new systems. But by the time you are fifty, it can be a drag. That no matter what you build and develop, in five to seven years, everyone is scornful of the things you made, because they are so “obsolete.” And around you are people who are more impersonal than people who  pursue teaching, the health field, positions in sales,  and other service oriented jobs.

         

        "Let us not seek the Republican answer nor the Democratic answer but the right answer." John F. Kennedy   America is the only country that has real   lemons in its furniture polish, and artificial lemon flavoring  in its lemonade!
        • jdpriestly (4426 posts)
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          7. It is a matter of balance. Too much time spent on the computer is

          not healthy, but the computer is a wonderful tool for expanding our world and our understanding.

          Balance.  It’s all a matter of balance.

          No Truth!  No Trust!  Bernie or Bust!
  • bemildred (1958 posts)
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    4. Thank you for that.

    It ain't the things you don't know that hurts you, it's the things you know that ain't so.