In our hyper-connected, internet age, we are all “practically” part of a collective consciousness. When we access Facebook and see what others have posted on their walls, we are participating in that consciousness. The thoughts of others become our thoughts; the problems of others become problems we are “toward”; the pictures of others become the pictures we see. Likewise, what we post, tweet, etc. becomes part of the lives of countless others. And all this “inception” occurs regardless what others want: when we log into Facebook, we don’t choose ahead of time what we will experience: it’s just there, like thoughts that appear suddenly and all at once, as organically and dynamically curated by others. In a sense, others on social media function as our subconscious minds, bringing to our consciousness articles, ideas, emotions, and the like that we would have perhaps never consciously summoned on our own.
Plugged in and online, we are part of a collective mind, and when we are disconnected we still think in terms of possible connection (our “towardness” is forever changed, as discussed in “Representing Beauty” by O.G. Rose). In this circumstance, trust, which is already hard to define (let alone maintain), seems jeopardized. Trust is difficult to establish between two individuals, especially after the trust is broken once (let alone multiple times), and it just seems improbable that trust could exist between millions of different people. But if we can’t learn how to maintain trust within a collective consciousness (to some degree), it would seem racial, religious, political, etc. tensions will only worsen. If overcoming this obstacle is impossible, our collective consciousness might rip consciousness apart.
How do we create trust in a collective consciousness? If our technologies are too much for us to handle, we will always face the societal tensions we face now (especially where there is no or a restricted “dynamic system” by which to work through these tensions, as expounded on in “Equality and It’s Immoral Limits” by O.G. Rose). Establishing trust between neighbors, let alone in a collective consciousness, is very difficult. It takes time, and hundreds of positive interactions which can be offset by a single mistake. Kindness builds only fragile structures, and mere misunderstanding can be a hard stone.
If we have a great friendship full of love and fun, one angry outburst could still undermine the years we built up together. Like a reputation, relationships take much to construct and seconds to tear down; it takes minutes to create a work of art, yet little to destroy it. Misunderstandings and “events” can offset hard-built and hard-earned relationships, and between two individuals, unfortunately, misunderstanding seems probable. Just consider all the books on personal conflict, marital conflict, and personality types to garner a sense of how well-intentioned people, not meaning to hurt or offend anyone in the slightest, can still end up in personal conflicts of unimaginable intensity and difficulty. Humans seem ripe for misunderstanding, and these misunderstandings can destroy trust. Trust can be rebuilt, yes but not easily or always.
Between two individuals, to some degree, conflict might be inevitable (though that doesn’t mean it must be permanent), not because people want conflict, but because different ways of talking, expressing love, etc. lead to misunderstandings. These misunderstandings must be worked out, but how? That would require communication to determine, and that is precisely what we misunderstand. Between two individuals, depending on how equipped they are to talk to one another, conflict can happen regularly, and every time misunderstanding occurs, trust is further threatened. Conflict can then compound, making trust-establishment more difficult.
If I tell my friend that he eats too much and I hurt his feelings, the next time he eats around me, he may sit there worrying about what I’m thinking (silently). Perhaps I apologized after my inappropriate comment, but he still must deal with the memory of what I said (whether he wants to or not). Thoughts can enter the mind without being willed, and without willing it, he can think about the last time he ate near me. He might have to do everything in his power to resist dwelling upon this experience and seeing me negatively in light of that conflict. This can be a tiring effort, a great, existential challenge — but let’s say he succeeds. Then, if I comment on his eating again, he’ll be doubly devastated: not only was his willingness to trust in me proven ill-placed again, but so was his willingness to resist giving into his thoughts and giving me another chance. If I apologize for saying this a second time, it will likely be much harder for him to trust me, seeing that I made him feel deceived the first time. But if he does try to give me the benefit of the doubt for a second time, it will likely be harder than the first time to resist giving into his thoughts, seeing that he resisted them then and that proved to be for not. But if he does and I insult him yet a third time, and so on, eventually I will make it virtually impossible for him to trust me: the unpredictability of the comments and resulting paranoia, the compounding hurt, and the ever-burdensome thoughts, make it too difficult (and arguably he shouldn’t try, suggesting a shift in rationality). Even if I spoke about his eating because I wanted him to be healthy and cared about him, my “good intent” still ruined the relationship. Misunderstanding thus compounds, making trust all the more difficult to establish.
Just considering the nature of different personality types, between two individuals, it is probable that there will be some degree of “compounding misunderstanding.” Overcoming this will be steep and difficult, and considering how many interactions take place in a day (how many words are exchanged, etc.), it is probable that two individuals will misunderstand one another every now and then and conflict, even regularly. In a single week, the number of interactions between two people can be in the hundreds, and so misunderstanding is simply a matter of probability, given the reality that people are different in how they think, speak, and act. Expanding this probability across millions online, it is probable that conflict will always be occurring somewhere, and in a media-saturated world, conflict that happens somewhere can happen everywhere.
‘[Locality] is dead,’ to borrow from Nietzsche, which is to say that if it happens in California, it can still feel like it happened in Virginia. The internet universalizes events, and what happens somewhere can be learned about everywhere, and media tends to present the stories with an urgency that makes them seem as if they’re “happening here” — what is distant feels close. The internet is full of positive stories, millions of them, but unfortunately the human mind gravitates toward remembering and focusing on “the bad” (perhaps as a survival mechanism). If we write a short story and twenty people tell us that they love it and one tells us that it was awful, we tend to think about the negative critic. Likewise, where there is internet, we rarely dwell on the good in the world — the bad catches our attention. Worsening this “negative dwelling,” the media mostly reports on negative stories, because though people may claim they want more positive coverage, stats show that negativity garners attention. Again, perhaps it’s due to a survival mechanism, but for whatever the reason, we seem wired to focus on and remember the bad. Hence, in an internet age where we are overwhelmed by limitless information, probability has it that we will primarily focus on and remember negative stories, and these stories will shape how we see our (local) world.
If a high-profile Democratic claims America is evil, it is probable that everyone in the country will find out. And this brings us to my main concern: if one Democrat claims to hate America and desires to banish Conservatives from the face of the earth, trust between all Liberals and Conservatives can be impacted. What happens between two people somewhere affects trust everywhere, deepening existential tension and making relationships more difficult to form for everyone. As thousands of hours of working to build up a relationship can be easily ruined by one misunderstanding, so thousands of hours of working to realize political reconciliation can be ruined by just two people somewhere out in Colorado. And if trust is fragile between two people, what is it between millions? Please note that where there is fragility there is existential uncertainty, and there is no telling what people will do when they are anxious…
Fukuyama has written that a social order is impossible without trust. If that is true, the difficulty of using the internet and maintaining trust is a matter of social life and death. Generally, overcoming differences is essentially an existential victory, a victory which seems impossible without trust-establishment. If we see one another in light of the internet, we might see one another through something we do not control, and how can we trust what we don’t control? Thus, we may pull away from relationships in order to avoid what feels alien and uncontrollable (and thus can feel to have more control over us). A world where relationships always occur in light of the “toward-ness” which the internet begets (as described in “Representing Beauty” by O.G. Rose) might be a world that only feels trustable free of relationships.
Not only does establishing trust require a lack of (compounding) conflict and misunderstanding, but it also requires genuineness. Like trust, I fear (a sense of) genuineness is very difficult to achieve today. People have to believe they are genuine to one another to trust one another, and the internet makes genuineness difficult to feel. This isn’t to say people can’t be genuine, but that the internet makes us increasingly cynical and unable to believe in the genuineness of one another even when it’s present. Yes, we can be genuine to ourselves, but it is increasingly difficult to believe in the genuineness of others. This is partly because media changes how we think of people; increasingly, we think of people in light of what we see online versus think of what we see online in light of people (which might work against extremism). Media seems to be changing reality more than reality is changing media (media fuels the “abstractification of life,” per se), and unfortunately, since media mostly focuses on negative stories, media changes how we “see” life negatively.
The more (media) images, video, etc. we encounter, the easier it becomes to define people by (abstract) characteristics than as (whole) persons. Media surrounds us with images, which is to say we are surrounded by images of people that we experience divided from their “presences.” They are “abstractions” to us, and so familiar and habituated to abstractions we become that we can think of real people (“rightly”) as like abstractions (abstract “is-ness” becomes “oughtness”). It is easier to think of David as “an entrepreneur,” Sarah as “a Spanish woman,” John as “uninformed,” and so on, but to think of “David’” as “an entrepreneur” is to reduce David from a person into a characteristic (however valid or good the intention) and “image” of his total self (which Capitalism, like media, can also train us to do). Likewise, “Sarah” isn’t simply “a Spanish woman,” for though it is true that “Sarah is a Spanish woman,” it isn’t the case that “all Spanish women are Sarah.” If we think of Sarah primarily as her ethnicity, we treat Sarah like a generality in a world where only particularities exist concretely. Like those who come to love humanity and lose the capacity to love individuals, media can train us to identify “the Spanish,” and in the process lose the capacity to recognize Spanish individuals; we can come to identify artists, and in the process lose the capacity to recognize people; and so on. (We must not avoid “The Real, alluding to Lacan.)
In making us habitude to “people without presence,” media has perhaps made it easier to treat people as “appearances” versus there; additionally, by overwhelming us with information, media might train us to categorize quickly, contributing to our experience of people as characteristics. In orientating us toward “images” and “appearances,” media might orientate us away from thinking of people as “real,” making it difficult to think of people as ever “genuine” and hence “trustable.” Images and appearances cannot be there to be trusted (there’s nothing behind them), and if we think of people as more unreal than real, it will make establishing trust more difficult.
“Abstractification” seems likely in a collective consciousness. Consciousness is the subjective experience of an individual, and so any “collective consciousness” must be, by definition, an abstraction. Already such, it seems unavoidable that everything that occurs within the collective conscious is also an abstraction. And in a way, that is obvious: one never sees a “person,” only “images of people” (“not-peoples,” per se). No one watching TV has watched a “person with presence,” only “a person without presence” (an abstraction). Likewise, no one has heard someone through Twitter or a phone: they’ve only heard “voices without bodies” — all human experiences through media are disembodied. There is ‘no there there,’ as Gertrude Stein once said.
How we experience being(s) through media is ontologically different from how we experience being(s) in the world, and these two different kinds of being(s) inform how we see one another (in line with “Representing Beauty” by O.G. Rose). The politicians we see on television shape how we see and think about all politicians in real life, as the politicians in real life shape how we see and think about politicians on television (the same can be said about anyone and anything). Media has created a new ontology, one which shapes the old way of being, making genuineness and trust more complicated and difficult to establish.
Remarks left in the comment section of a video or news story teach us that people will say terrible things when able to hide their identities; hence, we can come to think of everyone as “wearing makes.” This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be aware that there are secret and hidden dimensions to people, but that we can be primed to be cynical and assume everyone is hiding something, that everything we read is hiding a secret agenda, etc. Ultimately, we’ll come to assume people aren’t genuine until they prove otherwise, and that is something no one can ever prove (there is always room for doubt).
As argued in “On Trust” by O.G. Rose, trust shouldn’t be earned so much as it be given and/or withdrawn, for when “trust is earned,” the person giving the trust decides the point when a person has become worthy of receiving it, creating a power dynamic. And that person can “move the bar” constantly, putting others in a place where, no matter what is done, “being trusted” is always out of reach. The same can be said about genuineness, and in an age with a collective consciousness, where images of conflict constantly fill our laptop screens (and where how trust is extended is wrongly understood), it will be very difficult of us not to constantly “move the bar” on one another, making trust impossible to establish and genuineness unbelievable.¹
Considering that the brain is equipped with various survival mechanisms, in an age in which we are taught to believe people hide their truest selves, we will probably be distrusting and “assume the worst” of what seems hidden (meaning we’ll assume people are hiding hate versus kindness, ill-intent versus good intent). Not always, but probably most of the time, and so through time, it is probable that cynicism will become the predominate mode of thinking (especially considering that a human is likely to remember one bad thing that happened over hundreds of good experiences). This is especially likely across a collective consciousness, where a bad occurrence in CA can shape how we think about the world in VA, and especially given how that media gravitates toward reporting on bad stories, and that one bad story can change how we think about everything for days, weeks, and years. Goodness seems hard to keep belief in, however necessary.
Media may teach us to doubt appearances, which is in one way good but in another is problematic. We shouldn’t always take things on face-value, but in a society where “doubt” and/or “skepticism” are conflated with “disbelief” (as argued in combining “The Death of Skepticism” and “On Critical Thinking”), the only direction we can take “doubting appearances” is in the direction of deconstruction, making us cynical and distrusting. Considering this, it is perhaps not by chance that our age is also an age that struggles so much with racism, discrimination, tribalism, and extremism (after all, if we can’t trust anyone, we have to be extreme).
A media world is a world in which we are constantly dealing with abstractions more than presences, and so there is already a dimension of “fakeness” merged into the people we interact with, and so a dimension that feels un-trustable. This dimension is not necessarily something we think about, but it’s still metaphysically and ontologically present. Already then, there is a feeling of “fakeness,” rather conscious or subconscious, and seeing that trust is precisely denied to someone because he or she is “fake” (because the person doesn’t do what he or she claims, doesn’t fulfill commitments, etc.), a media world is a world in which people are, by default, “colored” with a kind of reason to deny them trust. In a way, people start out fake: the very fact a person is on TV, for example, gives them a feeling to us of “being fake.” Perhaps they are or aren’t (that’s left to be judged by what they do and say), but my point is that because the person is on television, online, a blog, etc., there is something about the person that already feels artificial. We don’t feel like we’re dealing with someone real but like we’re dealing with “the idea of a person” — a mere representative.
Helping us avoid “The Real,” the moment a person frustrates us, we can shut off the program. Faced directly with a person though, we can’t “turn him or her off”: we must “see it through,” whatever we’re facing (and perhaps we come to realize the person isn’t so bad after all, helping us develop empathy). Unless, that is, we start shouting over the person the moment the person says or does something we don’t like (a self-defense mechanism we may have learned from the media). Forced to deal with people “through” the phrases in which they offend us, we might come to learn that people have good reason for thinking the way they do, and that everyone in the world who disagrees with us isn’t a fool and unworthy of trust. Media though, because of how we act online, through cell phones, etc. may contribute to us developing habits of ignoring those we find difficult — habits rooted in instant gratification. Hard to say.
We’ve been indirectly taught to assume people are ingenuine and cannot be trusted until they “earn” our trust and faith, and yet because media has generally taught us that people are “fakes” (without knowing they are fakes), that people who act like they genuinely like minorities only act that way so people won’t think they are bigots, that religious individuals only act like they appreciate rationality, etc. — we have thus been equipped with “lenses” through which to interpret the actions of others in such a way that (no matter what they do) constantly justifies our “moving of the bar” which a person has to cross in order to earn our trust. Media has made us cynical in an age in which we don’t know how to be skeptical (as described in “The Death of Skepticism” by O.G. Rose), and taught us that the people who (act like they) care about us, don’t judge us, etc., only act that way because they know the “script” they need to follow (as taught to them by the media), in order not to be “found out.” Is it any wonder nothing feels right?
As discussed in “Scripted” by O.G. Rose, we know the “scripts” society indirectly teaches in order for people to “do what is right,” a notion which can be associated with Foucault and his “norms.” As a result, once we know about “norms” and “scripts” (we become “Foucault aware,” per se), then when we encounter people “doing what is right,” we can wonder if they are acting as they are because they genuinely believe in acting that way, or if it’s because they have been taught to follow a certain “script.” As a result, we can become “existentially uncertain” and anxious, making it harder to trust. If we see a picture of a white person helping a black woman, we can immediately wonder if he was put up to the deed for publicity by Conservatives. We can question it, and even feel like we “ought” to question it (unless we’re naïve and foolish): everything touching and “a sign of community” is (logically/cynically) questioned. On the other hand, if we see a banker abusing clients, “a sign of corruption,” we don’t as readily question it: we assume its reality. In this way, we are biased to believe bad actions are genuine, while we are trained to be skeptical of the good. Under these conditions through time, it’s only probable then that cynicism, distrust, and the like spreads and worsens, all while worsening our capacity to believe in one another.
Media can teach us to approach everyone like a politician, as fakes pursuing “our vote” and “our approval.” Disheartened by our politicians and how it feels like they treat us as a means to an end, we believe in little, and so government can suffer. At the same time, society can decline as well, for we can be habituated by how we think of government into how we think of one another. In media creating a collective consciousness, how we trust a part of it comes to spread across the collective into the heart of consciousness itself. The loss of trust in a part becomes a loss in the whole. Does that mean it’s too late for us? Well, who can say one way or the other and be someone who we trust?
In his brilliant essay “Up, Simba,” David Foster Wallace follows John McCain on the 2000 President Campaign Trail and comes to realize that it is eventually impossible to tell the authentic McCain from the McCain out to sell himself to voters. Wallace notes that McCain was imprisoned in Vietnam and tortured for years, and when McCain was given a chance to escape torture, because of a military code, McCain refused to leave until prisoners that had been imprisoned longer than him were freed first. Wallace notes ‘[t]here were no techs’ cameras […] no aides or consultants, no paradoxes or gray areas; nothing to sell. There was just one guy and whatever in his character sustained him.’² There was reality, a real and genuine John McCain. But once McCain became a politician, it became impossible to know the real McCain from the fake McCain, from the McCain trying to convince us to vote for him from the McCain that actually believed in what he was doing and who didn’t care what others thought. And the McCain campaign calculated this: by being genuine, he garnered votes. And so the campaign perhaps used genuineness as a marketing tool, which made it seem like “ingenuine genuineness.” The anxious mind-games only worsen as the campaign progresses, but it cannot be forgotten, Wallace stresses, that the man behind the campaign making these calculations, McCain himself, once suffered tremendously for the sake of a code. So perhaps we could believe in the “ingenuine genuineness” of his campaign? Perhaps. Always perhaps.
Wallace notes in “Up, Simba” that ‘the real McCain’ is trapped within a ‘dark and box-sized cell,’ and ‘that this box that makes McCain ‘real’ is, by definition, locked. Impenetrable. Nobody gets in or out.’³ Hence, we cannot know for sure if we can believe in the “ingenuine genuineness” — such a paradox is unavoidable in modern elections, and I would say now in modern life. We’re stuck. ‘No exit.’⁴ We’re denied access into what we need to access to know what we’re locked in with (not that there’s anything worth knowing). We all today have our own “dark box.” In the age of a collective consciousness, we all have a ‘box-sized cell’ in common. ‘Nobody gets in or out.’⁵ As Wallace noted about McCain, in the end, ‘whether he’s truly ‘for real’ now depends less on what is in his heart than on what might be in ours.’⁶ Likewise, whether others believe we are truly genuine ‘depends less on what is in [our] heart than on what might be in [the hearts of others].’⁷ And in our collective consciousness, all while unable to control what others think, we’ve all been taught to have hearts full of doubt, cynicism, and distrust. And so, today, a ‘snow fall[s] faintly through the universe and faintly fall[s], like the descent of the last end, upon all the living and the [fake].’⁸
Can knowing this is our plight save us? Can knowing that we are losing the capacity to “grasp” genuineness inspire us to change our ways? Perhaps. Perhaps knowing what media does to us can help us discern when our unwillingness to trust and believe in one another is more based on what our media has taught us to believe versus what we actually believe. But can we be certain that the media is wrong? And thinkers like Saint Augustine have always been skeptical of how much knowledge can save us. Can’t knowledge damn us too? Doesn’t the media spread knowledge? ‘Try to stay awake.’⁹
¹Distrust comes after trust. Distrust that comes before trust is irrational, like disbelief that comes before belief (to allude to Wittgenstein). It’s a contradiction. We have to give trust to have grounds upon which to distrust: to start from a place of distrust is to take away the groundwork needed to trust and to distrust (there’s no grounding for either). Yet in our media age, we come to start from a place of distrust, in fear of being hurt or taken advantage of (which the media makes us believe is likely) — a pathological contradiction.
²Wallace, David Foster. Consider the Lobster. “Up, Simba”. New York, NY. Little, Brown and Company, 2006: 233.
³Wallace, David Foster. Consider the Lobster. “Up, Simba”. New York, NY. Little, Brown and Company, 2006: 233–234.
⁴Allusion to No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre.
⁵Wallace, David Foster. Consider the Lobster. “Up, Simba”. New York, NY. Little, Brown and Company, 2006: 234.
⁶Wallace, David Foster. Consider the Lobster. “Up, Simba”. New York, NY. Little, Brown and Company, 2006: 234.
⁷Wallace, David Foster. Consider the Lobster. “Up, Simba”. New York, NY. Little, Brown and Company, 2006: 234.
⁸Allusion to “The Dead” by James Joyce.
⁹Wallace, David Foster. Consider the Lobster. “Up, Simba”. New York, NY. Little, Brown and Company, 2006: 234.
1. Language and thinking can seem discriminatory in their very structural tendency to (necessarily) draw distinctions, whether we want them to be or not. If I say, “Adults and children (insert),” I imply there is a separation between adults and children: I state there is a distinction, and so something that can be interpreted as discriminative. If I think, “There are some young CEOs,” I think something that might be interpreted as denial of the reality that there are more aged CEOs than young CEOs, and so I think something that can be thought of as “denial of generationalism.” To speak and to think often (if not always) entail making distinctions, clarifications, separations, generalities, hierarchies, etc., all of which can be viewed in our society as discriminatory (and probably will be to those concerned with discrimination). In a society that is cynical and struggles with trust, the very ways thinking and language organize and structure concepts might often provide evidence that this cynicism is warranted.
1.1 There’s an emphasis on the need for “conversations about racism, sexism, etc.,” but if we fail to identify how language functions and can naturally “come off” as offensive, these conversations may only make things worse.
2. In a collective consciousness, the male who acts patriarchal feeds the stereotype everywhere, as the Millennial who acts egotistical does the same. If our brains naturally seek simplicity, then brains will naturally cling to these stereotypes, and the collective consciousness might make it easier to rationalize this move.
3. An “extrovert ideal,” as discussed by Susan Cain in her book Quiet, may worsen the problems caused by a collective consciousness, for it is moral to join, grow, and use that very collective consciousness.
4. If racial reconciliation was eventually achieved, it could be claimed, “It wasn’t achieved soon enough,” sowing seeds of disunity. If the concerns of feminists, anti-sexists, progressives, etc., are addressed, it could still be claimed that it was an injustice that it took so long to right the injustice, and so sow seeds of discontent. One person could suggest such online, causing doubt and dissatisfaction in all. To exist in time is to exist in processes, processes which can always be labeled as “too slow,” for a moment of injustice is a moment always infinitely too long and “un-acceptable.” In a collective consciousness, anyone, anytime, can pen a comment that begs a consideration that can never gain certainty.
5. While media erases locality, it’s simultaneously and paradoxically local. Media makes us passionately furious over injustices and discriminations that are happening in American cities, but there are few protests over the atrocities in North Korea, few slogans like “make North Korean free again.” This isn’t to say that protests against American injustices are invalid and shouldn’t happen; my point is that our passions against injustice aren’t equally passionate against all injustices. Truthfully, we can’t expel equal energy toward all problems in the world, and it is only natural that the problems closer to home would bring out more emotion than the problems far away. However, to be effective bringers of justice, we need to recognize this about ourselves and also recognize that in a collective consciousness, this tendency is intensified, and the reason we need to recognize this is because our passions against injustices in America can make us feel like “we’re doing something,” hence making us unaware of our lack of effort to stop horrors in North Korea. Not because we should necessarily refocus on energy, but so that we become more critical and “real” about ourselves: we are not the perfect saints we can think ourselves to be. Our selflessness is often fenced.
6. One image of the rich can destroy trust in the American experiment, as one image of the government can destroy trust in the Democratic Republic.
7. If it’s too late for us to believe in the genuineness of one another and to extend trust, then it is too late for us to believe in the capacity of free individuals to be their own problem-solvers and to choose to freely live in a manner that is best for themselves and all. Unable to believe in individuals and so unable to believe in “free exchange” (and what overcomes “existential uncertainty,” as described in “Equality and Its Immoral Limits” by O.G. Rose), we must resort to State power and intervention (because of how we see the world, we can see no other option). And the more trust is broken and cynicism developed amid the collective consciousness, the more we will be primed to run to the State, and if the State causes problems, we will hence be more primed to create those problems.
7.1 If we’ve lost the capacity to believe in people, we’ve lost the capacity to believe in freedom (for good reason).
8. The fact most people are anonymous online increases the likelihood that some offensive, rude, inconsiderate, etc. is said, threatening trust in the collective consciousness and perhaps multiplying its decline. At the same time, being anonymous may empower people to “speak truth to power” — but will we believe truth is spoken?
9. If 1% of the country was racist, homophobic, sexist, etc., then around 3.2 million people would be such, and they might be the loudest.
10. Something that’s hard to say but needs to be said is difficult enough to say to one person, let alone millions across the internet, and thus might be silenced, keeping the conversation in the hands of those who say what doesn’t need to be said or what shouldn’t be said.
11. In line with thought presented in “Representing Beauty” by O.G. Rose, as trust dissolves throughout the collective consciousness, how we are “toward” one another changes, making us more cynical or “scripted” (to allude to “Scripted” by O.G. Rose) — modes which dissolve trust. This dissolving of trust then comes to feed itself, until one day cynicism is privileged.
12. Social media can, at any moment, reinvent social relations, and this is an existential reality with which no society will easily cope. When we invented the technology, we underestimated how endlessly and detrimentally “meta(mental)” humans could be…
13. By eroding trust and making us “toward” what is outside our locality, it is possible that our collective consciousness has had a negative impact on “social capital” (which is necessary for democracy, civilization, etc.), as discussed by Robert D. Putnam in Bowling Alone.
14. In a collective consciousness, the “legitimation crisis” Habermas warns about seems unavoidable.
15. Thanks to the collective consciousness, we all seem increasingly more like “personas” than people, as tends to happen to someone like David Foster Wallace and all other victims of “litchat” (as discussed in “David Foster Wallace and the Perils of ‘Litchat’ ” by Laura Miller).
16. Humans seem poorly equipped to be able to tell how profoundly technology impacts them. Take the clock, for example: it is often forgotten that the clock isn’t time itself. Not when a person is asked directly, but in practice, as a person lives out his or her life, the person “practically forgets” that time isn’t a clock — it seems virtually impossible for this not to occur. Additionally, are we even capably anymore of being able to imagine what the world would be like without clocks (including the sundial and the like)? Žižek argues that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than Capitalism ending (perhaps because the end of Capitalism is the end of the world), and this notion certainly applies when it comes to the clock. The clock didn’t necessarily have to come into existence: time would still exist if clocks didn’t. And without clocks, how would we meet up with someone, show up for work, organize our responsibilities, and so on? Thanks to the clock, human life is profoundly different, so profound in fact that the impact is invisible: it consumes us entirely. The internet is like clocks…
17. Once people don’t trust one another, they cannot work together to stop authoritarianism, which suggests dictators might like the internet. However, the internet also enhances the capacities of people to organize against totalitarianism — for the State, there are pluses and minuses to be considered.
18. The very technology that creates the collective consciousness, and hence might require a higher level of intellectual responsibility, also seems to be the very technology that makes us less intellectually responsible.
19. A reason trust is difficult to establish is because for every hundred good things a person does for us, it only takes one bad thing for us to be upset (and note we tend to remember the bad more than the good). The same applies over a collective consciousness, and I don’t think the proportions shift.
20. Perhaps the problems faced by the church and religion are similar to the problems of “collective consciousness and trust,” worsened by idealism (as arguably the church asks for)…
21. As immorality increases, so does the desire to erase freedom, as described in “On Kafka, Character, and Law” by O.G. Rose. Likewise, as immorality increases, so increases the belief that we are right not to believe in the genuineness of one another and to refrain from trusting people — our technology trains us in a manner that our immorality solidifies.