Prompt 019: Extinction of Present Phenomenae
19. What are some parts of the present that will be completely gone in the future? Will you miss them when they're gone? Why or why not?
Now is an interesting time in world history. The advent of technology has allowed corporations to mine individuals for their opinions, preferences, and beliefs on any subject. Politics, fashion, gossip, art, music, sex and sexuality, critical thought, etc. have all been plumbed to develop the latest trends, products, and popular movements.
I was just reading a short article written by an academic on "how to spot a Bot." It was a primer on what to look for in Twitter accounts that indicate that it's not a real person, and that it's likely a computer program. Personally I don't read Twitter accounts and don't have one, so I don't personally miss it (and I don't think the benefits outweigh the media's drawbacks). But with the rise of President Drumpf (in particular, though it existed before him and his use of it), so too has Twitter risen in the ranks of "reputable media sources."
All of this to say that I think that two big things will be gone in the future: investigative journalism, and solitude. Personally, I'll miss both of them when they're gone. Maybe I'll be gone before the full effect of their disappearance will be acknowledged.
Investigative journalism is being ignored, generally speaking. When looking at world-shakers, anyone with an investigation going on usually does so and persists in their investigation because they have an axe to grind. They'll drop it as soon as it's clear to them (though not necessarily clear to the general public) that there's no way to profit from the investigation.
Local politics seems to be where investigation still occurs, although it's unclear to see if the journalist really has the general public's benefit or best interest in mind as they report their story, or if they're only digging deeper so they can find their way to the world stage and become general press, which doesn't report much of actual substance.
I like reading zines, but when you sift through the personal diatribes and boring journal entries, you're left with an intensely local story that's pretty much worth ignoring anyway. The result is a set of untrained-but-passionate zine makers, local journalists aching for their big break, and major media corporations pushing their own agenda. In the mix are politicians who play investigator.
Then the stories are delivered. It's not the newspaper anymore. It's the smartphone and its myriad apps and "information services," which are in essence advertisement platforms. Social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and so on are all engineered to keep the user clicking, swiping, and retweeting. Television is an incessant barrage of advertisements and propaganda, urging you to buy this, buy -into- this, sell that, watch this movie or television show (which is in itself an advertisement), eat this, drink this, etc.
The human mind becomes overstimulated, and becomes accustomed and -desensitized- to this unending stream of visual and sound stimulus. It's to the point that "peace and quiet" is becoming more and more challenging to find. If you don't have a smartphone (and I don't) you're seen as a "freak." Meanwhile, they're the ones who eat dinner sitting in front of a computer monitor, fork in one hand, smartphone in the other, eyes glued to both the screens. You're just looking at advertisements and distractions. Is that what it means to be "plugged in" or whatever? I think I'll skip it, thanks.
I don't like taking pictures of myself and posting them online. In fact, just last night I decided that I would delete all pictures of myself from FB, and instead add photos from "thispersondoesnotexist.com" to my profile, tagging myself in them. I wonder what it will take to confuse FB algorithms to no longer be able to identify me, and/or to begin to confuse me with others (or, rather in the case of pictures from TPDNE: a "photo collage" of hundreds of others).
I've also removed photos of myself from LinkedIn (which is owned by Microsoft), though I haven't gone to the drastic step of flooding it with fake photos of myself. I kinda-sorta represent my day job there, and don't want to leave a -completely- creepy impression. Leaving the blank "mannequin head" is weird enough.
It feels odd at times to go against the grain. But I reflect upon it, and still feel like it's a worthwhile choice to make. I don't need social media. I don't need to be all that social... Particularly with those who seem unable to carry out a conversation without the aid of emojis.
I've fully engaged "grumpy old man mode," so I'll quit now.