I've been wanting to post for a while, on a hundred different topics, including sexism and the renewed opportunity for us to move past generic, superficial dalliances with its impact and pervasiveness. Add racism to that.
I want to speak about economic misery and the proven-to-be-untrue mantra that if you work hard you will get ahead. At 46, with an exemplary record of work and accomplishments behind me, I am watching my career investment and sacrifice drift into meaningless triviality. A slate wiped clean of any real success in terms of respect for my contributions, the perks of seniority, and worse, the financial rewards I was sure would come.
The skills I have gained are losing relevance. I shoe horses in a post-Ford world. I'm worried about where to go from here, what to learn, how to proceed. I'm not afraid of a new direction, but no one knows which way to turn. The compass of media is spinning wildly.
I want to write the details of thousands of dollars in dental work I cannot afford. The confusing labyrinth of my son's illness. The worry that we will not be able to pay for college and health care and the middle-class life to which we have become accustomed.
But each time I sent down, the threads of my concerns weave a chaotic, warped cloth that I can't bring myself to publish. Too long, too ranting, too angry.
And yet, thought the short-term looks ugly, I am more optimistic than I have ever been. Here's why:
I have been a complete infovore for the last week. So much so that eye strain became an issue. But as I am reading and clicking and watching video, I realized that the old order is dead. Deceased.
Life support may still simulate a heartbeat. But there are no brain waves. We're just arguing funeral arrangements now.
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. (video)
If information is power, then control of information is ultimate power. It's what makes media "mass." It's what makes noise machines function. It's what keeps people in line. Malleable.
"Getting the message out" whether that's in politics or advertising or any kind of propaganda has always relied heavily on the Big Channels, pre-cut, mapped grooves to use in sending information downhill. Open the sluice gate, down it goes. Close the gate, dry it up . Newspapers, radio, television just increased the volume and reach. It didn't change the underlying structure: One-way, filtered, packaged and timed.
The Digital Revolution is the dynamite that blows that model to kingdom come. Information is now trickling, pouring, cascading through the hundreds of channels like nothing we've ever known. There is no map. The flow has radically changed and it is no longer controllable. Big Sources can't trot out the same memes for the MSM to float for the masses and expect uncritical acceptance.
Now, there is not only dissent but access to that dissent. It has links here and here. To this fact and that study. To the video that shows what really happened.
In the cool of my porch in Charleston, S.C., I can read the dissection of the economic bailout written by a Nobel laureate. I can cross-check. I can read differing views. I can look up a concept I don't understand. A word. A timeline. History. Context. I can choose to educate myself. Change my opinion. Cement my position.
What's even more profound? The idea of being able to research something so easily, so instantly makes us less willing to blindly accept. More willing to take a look, look it up, think about it. We are training ourselves to be less gullible, more thoughtful, more open.
And if we are more open, we can demand our governments be more open. Our corporations. Our systems. We see what we can't find. What they've tried to black out, cover up, skip over.
The fundamental idea of quorum-sensing -- a key component in controlling the actions of a group -- now works for the other view just as mindlessly. The whole splinters. The masses become less monolithic. The myths are questioned. Exposed. Everybody doesn't feel this way. Everybody doesn't believe this. Everybody doesn't accept this as true.
The revolution isn't just millions of pajama-wearing, socially-inept misfits connecting digitally in a sad substitute for real life. It's experts and the educated. Professional and amateurs. Economists. Doctors. Lawyers. Candidates.
We can see how they voted. Read the plan. Read the bill. Research the law. Analyze the research.
We can choose to be part of something. Interact with other humans. Make connections that include love, respect, sympathy, fear, hatred. We can evaluate people on their ideas without the instant categorizations of sex, race, attractiveness. We can evaluate positions in the context of bias, expertise, education, experience.
We can take those connections and make them actions outside the digital environment. Register to vote. Donate to a candidate. Buy something. Attend a blogger meet-up. Share research. Collaborate. Create. Share a painful experience. Laugh.
I'm not suggesting some utopian future. There are downsides to everything. Humans and their organizations can be counted on to exploit and manipulate. The Internet is expanding our experience as humans into uncharted territory, which, if history is any indication, will include corruption and greed, hatred and fear, have and have-nots. Some will choose to be as narrow and rigid online as they are in real life. Some will use this power only to annoy. Some will still fight to control the flow. Without assistance, some will be left out altogether.
But the revolution is here. Right now. And we are in it up to our eyeballs.
Black beret, anyone?