read me your scripture and I will twist it
show me your wrists and I kiss and kiss it
Red hot chilli peppers, 21st century
1. Read me your scripture and I will twist it
1.1. Eras and Centuries ( or eurocentrism disclaimer)
Humanity has always been concerned about the past, present and future. It’s part of our nature to question, to compare, to wonder, to imagine. A glimpse to the past reveals that things never were truly stagnant, its either a slow transition or a sudden conversion that would be happening. If not religious then political changes would occur if not sociological transformation then warfare would shift humans’ reality and minds. Longer periods could have noticeable tendencies that would characterize the lifestyle of people living in that period of time and that would be a defining reason for naming it.
When we talk about ancient times, classical age, medievals, renaissance, modern days, and atomic era, we (westerners) tend to believe that the whole world and all the civilizations had somehow a similar developmental path that led all of us to meet where we are now – in the days of Information era. This attitude derives from eurocentristic worldview but that cannot simply be regarded as ignorance or arrogance (or a feature ascribed to only one regionally defined cultural area). It’s much more complicated than blaming the need for representing one’s own civilization as the most developed one, or the exemplary one in comparison to others. It’s a borderless perspective that can only be altered by improved knowledge of things.
Perceiving the development in a linear evolution is, in fact, a very western mindset. For example, Chinese civilisation, which is considered to be the mother civilization for the majority of Far East regions and cultures, regarded time in a circular manner. Of course, for a western mind, it’s easier to comprehend China’s development by picturing all the dynastic cycles being put in a line and then regard them as different eras. Indeed all of them had specific characteristics that would define that time period, e.g. Han times are regarded as days of remarkable technological advancement, Tang era is the Golden age for arts, Ming dynasty is remembered for expanding trades and ties with other civilisations. However, this angle disregards specificities for Chinese consideration of time and also sets up the so-called universal timeframe of comparison.
Similarly, the idea that we all live in the 21st century represents how much the Western way of thinking is imposed on others. There is a number of different calendars, or one could call it perceptions of calculating time, that have been created around the world, each having different criteriums and reasoning why we live in a specifically called year. However, it’s difficult to find a single person who wouldn’t know which year did we enter on the most recent 1st of January, while not as many could answer the same question in regards to other calendar systems.
1.2. 21st century as Information era
All the creatures
On the beaches
Making waves in a motion picture
Won’t you keep this
In between us
Search and seizure, wake up Venus
With respect to the distinct pasts and worldviews, today the planet Earth, in fact, is as united as it never was. Technological and scientific achievements provide us with a glimpse to things that are bigger and smaller than us, it connects the world physically and virtually, which generates a greater standpoint for us to see the whole world as it is. The 21st century is the time like never before due to the increased education and public access to numerous sources of information. The illiteracy is rarely common, thus, now it takes fewer efforts to find out how things are done in different parts of the world without witnessing it. We can read about different nations, cultures, philosophies, religions and countries no matter whether it’s reviving, ceases to exist, prospers or it is long gone. Learning about the struggles in the past, the challenges of distinct nations, great stories of heroes and villains help us to relate with each other.
The distinct quality of the era we live in is those increased levels of accessibility to different information. Now almost anyone can easily find an answer to a bugging question what is what and where is where only by a few types and clicks on their computers or smartphones. Want to know what is the capital of Nigeria? You will know that it’s Abuja with historical explanation how did that happen in less than a minute. Do you want to know who was the first man and woman ever to climb the Everest? Edmund Hillary and Junko Tabei. Ever heard of the eye of Sahara and where could it be found? It’s a geologic dome in Mauritanie, one that has several theories of its origin and nature. The point is, today you can just sit and keep making up questions while answers will be out there for you in seconds.
And the good old news is that everyone is more or less free to choose what to read, what to watch, what to believe in and what to dedicate their time to. This means that being able to easily access numerous sources, even more of them if you are willing to pay, all this helps you to improve your knowledge on topics that you want to. If all you read concerns a certain topic at some point you become an expert of it.
1.3. Is information controlling us?
Turn the screw and
Twist my language
Don’t forsake me I’m contagious
Knowledge is power. A power that can be used and abused, changed, alternated or modified, a power that can be thrown as argumentation and support to the claim. We learn so-called facts and trues but, as my history teacher used to say, history is the greatest prostitute ever known, because it changes depending on who writes it. And that is a status quo of all the news we read. It depends on the author’s level of bias taking into consideration that pure objectivity can never exist.
On the other hand, through a social media, we get immersed in an environment where notifications and opinions and thoughts and ads and somebody’s, that you haven’t talked to in ages, happy birthday wishes just pop up to you. Furthermore, while we believe that we can choose what we want, AI is being used to gather information about us too. All that me, as an individual, is interested in is being registered and stored in order to complete a file of what an individual might find appealing. I am a file with a number as I am a person with a name. All I get to see on my social media is offered by an algorithm based on my previous searches and likes and pages that I opened. Sounds kind of nice. This way information gets filtered FOR me, and I, supposedly, will get informed about things that are in my area of concerns. So if I am very much into politics, I will get related information bombarded at me just to please my need to know more about it. But what if all that means is that at some point my reality becomes only those few interests of mine that keep on being fed to the degree that I don’t even realise that it’s all I know, that’s all I think about. Isn’t it that my reality is being created for me?
Nevertheless, individual realities have always been altered by the influence of others. You are born into a society so you get to be a part of it which implicates that you act accordingly to its norms in order to survive, a.k.a. creat the best that is possible for you. So one can argue that what the AI does, is somehow just a role that for ages has already been played by organisations, institutions, families, religions, governments and societally bounding unwritten agreements. Basically, all one can think of when it comes to the influencing sources that compose an individual. Thus, all the above is a philosophical (or other) concern about human will power and critical thinking.
2. Show me your wrists and I will kiss it
2.1. Are we living in a depression-era?
The dollar bill will
Mentally ill bill
Mum and dad take your ‘don’t be sad’ pill
What ultimately the goal of the information is, is to raise awareness about certain topics to the general public. One, that is of a higher public concern as never before, is advanced knowledge in regards to public health, especially mental health. Scientific advancements helped to diagnose numerous mental illnesses and particularly two became extremely common to hear about – depression and anxiety disorder.
Depression, an illness of sadness and hopelessness, often gets triggered by all you can see and absorb. Anxiety disorder is very much alike, just instead of causing apathy and disinterest it puts a person in a desperate mode ‘to handle it all’. There is a lot of information about it and the statistics show how these illnesses are spreading. Of course, numbers are numbers which without additional context can be biased. The world population keeps growing, and with more people, there are more cases, the awareness is on the rise which contributes to higher statistics. Thus, are mental issues another defining quality of 21st century or numbers only represent improved general knowledge and simply more people?
Individuals who struggle with depression can confirm, that there are days when you don’t want to live anymore because you feel like nothing matters. Increased access to information let us see one thing in particular – how humanity has always been striving and that there was never a time that things would be just. Rich would get richer and poor would get poorer, institutions in place to help to change inequalities often mainly serve the needs for the chosen ones. When you are constantly exposed to the issues and the reality of today’s world it can be complicated to remain hopeful and happy.
2.2. The Upbringing
Hand it over
Stop and read what you just wrote her
Oral sex and bird migration
We grew up with fairytales but then, one day, we got a phone or a computer through which we were able to find many facts about what actually happened or is happening at a particular time and place in the world. Of course, generations before also grew up with fairytales and, same as us, one day learnt what the world really is. But the part of the unknown back in a day was greater than it is now. What I mean by it is that it was easier to idealise the past and imagine that people were living in accordance with higher moral standards in comparison to what one sees today. Not knowing the details or better to say not being able to easily access them allowed people to live in a bubble picturing past or present but somewhere else as if it was\is harmonious and struggle-free.
Also, Disney movies became the most popular and dominant stories to kids across the world. While some of them are well done, some, on the other hand, were adapted and changed to pass on a questionable message, one that was not what the creator intended to. E.g. the Little Mermaid by H.C. Andersen, who specifically wrote for kids, ends not with a happy wedding party but with a suicide. Esmeralda from Victor Hugo Notre Dame de Paris was sentenced to death but, it needs to be said, this was never a story for kids in the first place.
If you read about most popular fairy-tales and their original versions you will get shocked. Snowhite was raped by a Prince charming and woke up not from a kiss but because she was giving birth. Cinderella didn’t get her shoe back which eventuated with her marrying the Prince, but her half’sister chopped half of her foot and got that instead. The Little Red Riding Hood did not safe her grandma but got eaten alive herself. Not to mention other tragic stories written by H.C. Andersen and Brother Grimms, to name a few The Girl Without Hands or The Little Match Girl.
I believe that feeding our kids with only happy ending stories when we already know that real life will not only be a pleasurable experience is a questionable choice. The last generations are being raised by overly preoccupied parents who want to shield their kids from everything that is scary or unpleasant or sad as if that will help them to grow up happy. Maybe it does, but this way the real-life situations come as a real shocker to kids who are not prepared to accept life as it is.
2.3. Don’t believe what you see, believe what I tell you
It’s my favorite
Coming down with the favored nations
Learn to give and take dictation
Seems like fairytales we tell our kids nowadays are stories of successful people who for whatever reason were blessed. Blessed by gods or who were hard workers or just ordinary people who made a good story out of their experiences. What matters is that while you are lost in search of who you are and what you want, things keep happening. And sometimes you feel like you cannot catch up with anything anymore and you don’t even know what to care about the most. Every day we are bombed with information about horrific or horrifying things, about beauty and achievements or just information how to keep you fit, what is healthy and what is not and it varies from source to source and at some point, you don’t even know what’s true and what isn’t.
The information forms our attitude and believes, imposing certain opinions and how we should perceive what is good and what isn’t. As it always was the case before, today we keep looking to find and define ourselves, questioning our choices, accepting values and determining our goals. It’s not an easy task. When you are born into a society that tells you who and how you should be but, at the same time, it encourages you to search, many of us struggle. How do I know that this is the path I should take? We only live once, thus, each and every one of our choices count and matter.
The pressure not to make mistakes is high. Expectations to do well are raised to the degree that one doesn’t even have time to question what he or she really wants but make choices based on how much financial success will that choice possibly bring. And even if you enter an office where majority of people working there are overstressed, overworked and unhappy, you still have a run just because you want to believe that for you things will turn out differently. Often we choose to believe what the authority tells us instead of accepting the picture that lays in front of our eyes. We choose to close our eyes and trust our ears instead, up to the point where what we see finally makes a connection in our brain and oftentimes brings the whole imaginated reality to collapse.
3. Somehow we’ll make it cause thats what we do
Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Make You Feel Better
‘The world stood it all and ever winter that ever came has ended’ – a character from the popular TV show, called Game of Thrones, once said. And as each of us feels as little as a grain of sand in this world, it is difficult to admit that my everyday choices have something to do on a big scale. Information era is the time when we get access to know a lot, but at the same time, we are forced to find an authentic way of our own being in the big scale of differences, problems and challenges. What we are experiencing now is new, and there is no treatment because history does not provide an answer. History only allows us to see how other humans suffered, fought and carried on until we all got to the place that we are now.
There’s a reason for the twenty-first century
Not too sure but I know that it’s meant to be
It is meant to be, could be something to hold on to in the darkest moments.