Monday, October 10, 2011

Social Noise Reduction

There is a particularly common criticism of today's society I hear a lot. I am not sure what the term for it is, but I think it is a core part of the larger ideas of Postmodernism and Cyberpunk. The criticism is that nowadays, thanks mostly to the internet and mass media, people are bombarded with so many opinions, alleged facts, works of fiction, ideas, and memes, that people have become either terminally unable to separate the "signal" from the "noise" in the information we process, and/or are incressingly distracted by the trivial.

And yeah, I can see that. But before we go around claiming Ludd was right and throwing out all our communication technology, maybe we should consider that maybe PEOPLE are the problem, not the information. First of all, I think the problem with people being unable to tell the difference between fact and fiction is simply that most people don't have the critical thinking skills needed to parse information in an optimal way. What's more, most people don't have a broad enough perspective to realize that sometimes it doesn't even matter. People are often more interested in picking a side and being right then anything else. Sometimes, especially with controversial or heavily contested subjects, you just have to admit that some things may or may not be true. This doesn't mean you can't draw conclusions, you just need to think about logic in a different way.

As for people being distracted by the trivial, I actually take it as a sign that what a lot of people say is important, isn't really that important to a lot of people. That doesn't mean it isn't important in the grand scheme of things, but people so rarely look or care about the the grand scheme of things. I think, for example, kids getting distracted from school by video games is not a problem with the games. It's a problem with the school or maybe the parents. People shutting themselves in and playing MMORPGs all day is not a problem with the MMORPG. It's a problem with our society. As for the people who get distracted themselves, it's hard for me to make an argument that they are at fault if they honestly don't care. I mean, yeah, they are doing it to themselves but that is a choice. They pay the consequences for that choice. Though I may be bias because that is more or less what I am doing, allowing myself to get distracted fully understanding that there is a price to pay. Some times it's worth it, sometimes it's not.

I feel personally, like I have spent the last ten or so years of my life mostly just gathering information and working it out in my head. Trying to build a sort of cathedral of images and thoughts in a manner similar to how Carl Jung worked out his issues by writing his Red Book. I have been interested in that sort of thing for a while, probably ever since I was a kid and saw parts of The Wall, and perhaps even before that with my childhood games of imagination.

But, Carl Jung stressed the need to write these things down, so that they become contained and objectified, and I have done very little in the way of actual writing and art. I have a powerful urge to do so, which is part of what my hack was intended to do actually. To give my ideas and outlet and to make them more 'real' so to speak. I suppose in the back of my mind, there is a third criticism of today's society that saps me of the motivation to do much work on it. And that criticism is that there is so much of that kind of stuff out there. Stuff that both intentionally and unintentionally explores these themes I want to explore. And while they might not do it in the same way, they cover a lot of the same ground.

Lately I have been reading a lot of random webcomics and watching videos of a lot of random games. And it gets to the point where there are just so many works of fiction with so many themes and ideas, that even if a few of them still make me take notice of something or reevaluate my ideas slightly, I don't really think there is much room for me. Which is a stupid way of looking at it really. I talk all the time about being the butterfly that starts the storm, of how I would be happy if my ideas were remembered even if I were not. After all, I am sitting here writing this in a blog that I am not sure anyone actually takes the time to read. And maybe this blog is like my red book. Maybe blogging in general will help people deal with there problems just knowing, even if it is never read, that it is out there somewhere for people to randomly find.

I can always hope, and I guess hope is enough to live on.


  1. I do read, I just don't comment because I don't have anything of value to say most of the time! I check almost every day, even. Though I do think I'm your only constant reader...

  2. That's nice to know! I think I actually might have a one or two people I know in real life who might read, though I think they might skip over a lot of it because they don't understand half of what the heck I am talking about. That's one of the reasons I tend to pot hole links to define things a lot, even though I am sure most people don't care enough to read long pages of subjects linked to from a long rant.

  3. Luckily, my nerd rating is almost as high as yours so I get it anyway :P

  4. Although sometimes I think I use terms in slightly unconventional and technical ways, and I usually like to cite where I get information if possible. Honestly, I could probably do better, because I usually skip linking for terms I have linked before.