Sunday, 24 June 2018

I Broadcast, Therefore I Am


YouTube’s tagline is/was ‘Broadcast Yourself’. It basically applies to all social media and virtually anything digital these days: you need to be broadcast to be heard and being heard is the only way to tell if you exist, or poignantly: matter. Or so it would seem. 

One definition of a successful person is to see which way everyone is going, then go the other way. I’m not sure what ‘going the other way’ is in terms of the digital revolution and information age, but it would be worth exploring. Going against the universal shift toward digitising everything may be annihilation – in the form of immediate social isolation - all the way to a physical end. Not particularly successful, is it?

Have you ever stood at the shore of a lake or pond, and fed the birds? Bits of bread thrown to the flocks of differing types. It is seldom orderly, civilized. It can be humorous to observers, to see the manic frenzied fights that take place, especially if you have some larger birds duking it out with the smaller ones. You’re never quite sure if the birds are reacting out of need or greed, but whichever, it is not a particularly dignified sight. But that’s ok, because these are wild animals, birds, acting according to their basic instinct. Dignity, calm, peace, decorum, respect – not at all important, understood or needed. And it’s entertaining. Are you not entertained?

Sunday feeding of birds is fairly common. Have you ever seen rats feed as if there is no tomorrow? Have you seen them climb over each other, devouring at fever pitch, with no concern for each other? Their tiny fur coats a shimmering mess of hunger and survival. Puppies do similar things while trying to get to a nipple, but they’re puppies so are automatically excluded from scrutiny. They’re cute. Rats – not so much. 

And so, why do we act more like ravenous rodents, scrambling for restaurant waste? Why are we so easily pitched against our sojourners in a survival death-match? Who has set these parameters, who throws the food, saying “this is all there is”? And why do we respond? 

Why are we happy to act by instinct? Human development and flourishing has often been described as a myth in the human being, especially when we act like the unbearable instinctual beings that we can sometimes be. 

Is there a choice, is it up to us? 

Or do we succumb to Chestnut Tree Café mentality, where sipping our oily gin, we think of the way things are or could have been?

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