Distraction And Delusion

Musings on the cultural and psychological effects of technology (mainly computers, internet, etc) mass media, and how it ties in with the goals of political leaders and government. This might be a series spanning various topics.

 

   Technology, from the vast virtual world of the Internet to the amusing bells and whistles of cell phones and game consoles, was supposed to bring us together with the promise of enhanced ability to keep track and communicate, but instead we seem to be slowly drifting apart.

It is giving us more control but in other ways, enslaving us, stealing our freedom and privacy, and, figuratively speaking, eating our souls. In fast-paced little personalized bubbles, we zip back and forth seeking pleasure and belonging, often where it cannot be found. The stranger in need of help is of no importance to some, merely a troubling ghostly presence to be shooed away, lest chaos break lose.

 

We can't be human without being sucked into one another's emotional black holes. Unless we do what we've been doing. Trying to escape the inevitable through fun, luminous gizmo's, masks made of microchips to hide our flaws and polish our egos, and countless pretty trinkets that after a while look exactly the same. Even though we live in a world awash with light and sound, the uncomfortable silence and creeping distress still lurk. We can't ignore our shadows. We can only pretend to. Stay busy.

 

Some even become addicted to the countless dramatic stories of catastrophe, death, materialism and strife broad-casted conveniently and enthusiastically on television and Internet. They simply must hear who has been killed this time, or who is attacking whom, or who is going without or being hurt. They have to know what the celebrities are doing so they can live vicariously through them and, just for a moment, pretend they are living the good life. When the illusion fades, plunging them back to reality, they can watch people fall apart and die and think, “Well, at least it wasn't me.”

But they figure that nothing can be done about it. Why bother? One person can only do so much to effect the world's state of affairs, which doesn't count as anything at all. Their logic, upbringing, and even the media tells them this, albeit subtly. But how wrong it is. This sheep-like mentality has been with us for ages, but in the dawn of our technological wonders, shouldn't ignorance and complacency be banished in favor of empowerment and wisdom?

 

Shouldn't we all be motivated to end humanity's collective nightmare?

But it isn't easy. That's the kicker. People fed with little pleasures suspend themselves in a cozy cocoon and pretend that their influence doesn't exist, because its just easier not to fight the system. They'll be willing to think its “somebody else's problem.” Until misfortune marches up to their door like it always does, and they'll remember that to all but a few close friends and relatives, (and sometimes not even them) its “somebody else's problem.”

The corrupt powers that be conduct business as normal, their hands shoved in each others pockets and down the backs of willing marionettes. The world continues to be unfair and full of selfish walking worms that get away with whatever they want because they have money, power, and connections.

Meanwhile, we the people try to get by. Make money. Feel loved. Avoid pain as much as possible. Its hard enough upholding our own state of security, but perhaps if people opened their eyes to their own power instead of swallowing what they're being fed, they would pursue more worthy causes than shallow, materialistic fantasies that our shallow materialistic escapist society is more than happy to provide. Because every time someone seeks a distraction, the fire is fueled and the biggest goldfish swim to the top to feed on the fresh, new flakes. And maybe, just maybe, the smaller ones on the bottom will get something good from the remains and become plump and happy too.

But not everyone has this luxury. We know this for a fact. Suffering is in abundance no matter where you look, and it either hurts or feels perversely good to look, depending on what kind of person you are.

Technology and progress mixed with compassion could also solve our problems, but we choose not to see it that way. Not everyone is so sunken in apathy that they could care less about people less fortunate than themselves. Unwarranted cynicism sets in when we try to assume otherwise: that this is a dog-eat-dog unfair world which will always be this way, that if you don't run with the herd, you'll be crushed in the stampede, that we are nothing but walking meat waiting to die meaninglessly.

Considering all of this, from the natural disasters to the ones by our own hands, takes time and energy. Laziness of the intellect is sometimes more common than physical sloth.

So we turn to the reassuring glow of the screen....

Because for some, particularly those who feel lonely and socially awkward, an electronic companion is better than nothing. Or better than facing the stresses, big and small, that life forces us to face when we plunge headfirst into its thrall. I can understand wanting to flee from the huge problems such as anguish over the state of the world or personal struggles, but the annoyances are things that people seem to be less tolerant of because with the aid of the Internet, we can just block that out, even if we're causing less than pleasant chain reactions in the first place.

 

Being a teen I see the appeal, a thing that offers control and distraction that temporarily obscures what we don't want to see. But we must remember what is real.

It hurts a lot to see what happens here, but it also feels wonderful to love, and envision what could be different.

Not only have we become strangers to one another. We've become strangers to ourselves. We've forgotten what we could be.

Whatever you do, don't forget. Life is for living. Not for longing. Not for staring blankly into a screen, collecting nonexistent rewards, and voiding the world out. Not for standing by and letting the walking worms crawl all over you and everything you stand for.

Pursue your passions and fight for the right others have to do the same, because slowly and surely, sinister forces strip happiness and freedom away. And if we continue to believe we can't stop them, then we most certainly won't.

 

 

The End

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