Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing
George Orwell 1984
How many of us can claim to be making stuff? Stuff you can use, touch, feel, savour and enjoy, stir your tea with, digest as entertainment or enable you to watch, read and listen to that entertainment?
The vast majority of us are busy reading the thoughts, five things, seven habits, and thirty-six lessons of how I made millions, without thinking as to what we are contributing to beyond other people’s aspirations and dreams. And, of course, our own income through sponsoring a bit of hope is a good thing. But how many of us are actually engaged in making product?
It is said we build knowledge on the shoulders of others’ achievements and yet the question is there now – are the vast majority of us building on shoulders? Or, are others carrying you as an onerous load? Are you thinking you are building a mind and body to achieve? Or are you being manipulated in all these lists as others flip and flop around inside your head?
I watched the new series on Vietnam, http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/the-vietnam-war/home/ , and realise just how we are, or maybe not, making tangible stuff but many, far too many, are indulging in using time in human’s most primitive, primal, need for aggression. It turns out the Vietnam war’s consequences has numerous parallels with the situation we encounter regularly now in fragile places. The move to urban settings, the destruction of subsistence living and the need for new livelihood interventions since many people are robbed of their lives as infrastructure does not keep up with public health conditions. Mosul, Iraq, is the latest case with US$2billion being the conservative sum suggested to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure following the liberation of the city. Liberated from what to what? We kill each other first by bullet and bomb and then with crap and pestilence as politicians claim victory and people are left to contend with the absence of tangible stuff supporting livelihood and living in general. Conditions are such, the elements mutually reinforce as the breeding ground for diseases assists the recruitment of malcontents to radical, quite possibly, extremists actions. And round we go again, destroy tangible stuff and feed in to the desire to find the panacea solution for our ills.
As the world of work continues to change, some say evolve, others say through a series of disruptive innovations or inventions; how is not so much the question, the what for and where this takes us as individuals, societies and as a species are the interesting questions.
What is apparent is the superficiality of much of what we have developed in the last twenty years. Let us take Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and the other communication media, with no disrespect to those equally influential and not named. Yes, very good vehicles for marketing, for influencing way beyond the original intentions or beliefs of the founders/creators. Some would contend, very good vehicles for destroying thinking, depth of analysis and cultivating a hardening of opinion behind extreme views.
This is the point; they are vehicles for transporting people to work. Like an airline, people use the vehicle to get from A to B, and so people can get on with making stuff, of pricing product and finding ways and places to promote such production. Is this the be all and end all of the social media and the airline analogy?
Nope. Some people find it an adventure to go on aircraft journey, the journey is an end in itself and they enjoy talking to fellow passengers, finding out who is working on what, or more likely, finding out about those taking a holiday and why they are going where they are going, with who? For how long? What sun-screen they use. And so we have the basis of data, collecting knowledge of people’s habits, plans and aspirations. Airline companies plan out far into the future knowing which aircraft to what on what routes, when to buy new aircraft, when to promote for more passengers, when to raise prices and change the seating arrangements to make more money (even the most Islamic of operating airlines need to pay their way).
How does this fit with social media? The operating costs are remarkably low (in comparison), no aircraft maintenance or safety issues for safe landings at different airports. The capitalisation of a number of tech companies not dealing with stuff is amazing with the number of employees decreasing as the prices paid for the latest ideas becomes higher. The hegemony continues and money now begets money with a consolidation of the oligopoly: Amazon, Alibaba, Alphabet, Apple, Tancent and probably Facebook.
Are you really picking where you want to go on holiday? Do you really know all the options available to you in what you work on? Or are you happy with somewhere the sun shines, the drinks are decent price and allows you to get over turning up for a job long since losing its appeal you saw as a fresh eyed entrant to the World of Work? Still paying off your student loan? Thinking of buying the house to make a home, going club class to a more exotic place for your holidays. Back to social media possibly and exploring these dreams, reading more of the five steps to earning a million.
The reality is social media feeds off its self and produces exactly what? For the vast majority of us it has developed an addiction every bit as habit forming as the opioid use in the USA, far more addicts than the 2.4million announced as habitual users of painkillers in the States. As the emergent figures are showing: millions of pieces of data from 50milllion individuals to manipulate how to pose thoughts processes inside their heads. Far more pervasive as we see enquiries launched into how personality tests developed at the start of the millennium are being used to manipulate (political) public opinion. Cambridge Analytica is the tip of the data mining mountain as China announces a super computer capable of 93 trillion (this is a 1 with twelve noughts) calculations per second.
To draw from Orwell and his cerebral 1984 –
‘the best books are those that tell you what you know already’.
Social media works on this practice, feeding you reinforcing points as you change how the synapses in your brain change how you process information.
So you think you have free will? As George Orwell noted –
The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better
Points to Ponder:
You making tangible stuff? Impacting your life and helping others? Go touch today’s productive work, think what you can do to make things happen for you and your people tomorrow.