Authors Note: Bare with me as I regress into illogical preamble and madding, irrelevant thought.
It was a woozy weekday evening and the light was a hazy autumnal brown. I hadn’t eaten all day and the pit in my stomach began to plunge my work ethic as low as the v-cut on Kelly LeBrock’s dress.
I had been aggregating a collection of Heinz salad cream sachets for months, delicately storing them above a loose fitting roof tile. It was a mischievous form of entertainment that kept me from sustained periods of unbearable boredom. I’d imagine, years after my absence this collection, ripened and rotting with the smells of broken enzymes and bubbling fats.
It was a grotesque, evil image that removed me from the mind numbing mundanely of filing. Cardboard boxes towering higher than my own head each held documents that were so important and held so information that one person could absorbed it all. So they just had to be shoved carelessly onto cramped shelves and left forever in a dark room.
I watched a spider dance around a web of shining thread imagining my own life as a Black Widow. I’d sit lazily on the fringes of my Spider friend’s webs, eating their bait and complaining about my bad back. I’d insight hateful comments on twitter over the Spider government and talk about my xenophobic hate against the False Widow Spider and the rising number of Oak Processionary Moth immigrant workers taking good honest English homes and jobs.
I’d click on link bait articles that furthered my preferential beliefs that I am in fact the image and likeness of God and the world does in fact revolve around me. I’d make a Tumblr blog and write about how soft we are on women, calling for harassment on all public displays of progressive thinking while harking on about privilege. I’d write as a white male, militant atheist stuck in the friend-zone and reblog gifs of jiggly boobs and cartoon cats.
I’d copy wistful quotes onto Instagram pictures of sunsets and bastardize Francisco Bulnes with an elite sense of political centrist snobbery. Because anyone with any real political ideals is easy parody but in my almighty grace I’d end up punching down and already demoralized groups.
All dissenting opinions on my own beliefs can and will be ignored because I’ve found myself in a space that encourages preference. The systems that our social media uses focus on our preferences and disenfranchise us from engaging with things outside those circles. Facebook makes you ‘’like’’ things, there’s no wiggle room there. It’s a binary system that enforces binary beliefs. Either its good or not.
It’s become the grammar of the internet, this dichotomy of binary appreciation. Youtube, WordPress, Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit and almost every freaking blog under the thinning atmosphere of our suffocating planet including this one! There’s been this push for us to strip our preferences down and brazenly wear them like scout badges. Big business has always wanted to aggregate the perfect, marketable profile of you for the sake of specifically targeted ads, and guess what? You’ve been doing that job for them. You’ve aggregated the perfect footprint. The perfect, saleable picture, the white man in his thirties that drives a ford car and watches the Simpsons and likes pictures of dogs and now he’s being sold a Simpsons dog lead and seat covers for his car.
This, rant, this preamble, this concern for the grammar of the internet is all borne from one disturbing comment I read.
”I’m sorry, but your opinion is in the minority’‘
I sat dazed for a moment trying to decipher the meaning behind these words. There must be something. People valued it. It was highly rated and many replied, agreeing with this dismissive statement. At the time I was trying to write about cynicism, specifically my own. I was reading through my own text and comparing it to the horrifically scary online disinhibition effect. A reaction where, because of the internet’s lack of social restrictions and inhibitions that are otherwise present in normal social interaction individuals are able to peruse in and out cynical, hateful behavior without the fear of any kind of meaningful reprisal.
That’s why we get this spiteful brew of cynicism from our web going hours. Like the consequences written by Jean Baudrillard when he discussed hyperreality in Mass culture as a set ”of ritualised signs of information, with no actual content.’’ Just because someone can discuss an issue doesn’t inherently mean they are capable of doing so and more often than not they fail to even frame their argument, causing a growing web of straw-man conclusions to develop along the recesses of more informed debate. This sort of baggage is ultimately more harmful than good and personifies that ‘’disappearance of intensity’’ in dialogue described by Baudrillard.
What’s most disturbing about this statement, ”I’m sorry, but your opinion is in the minority’‘, is that it frames the opinions of those who are not represented by the majority as invalid. It invalidates all discussion that’s separate from the general consensus. Now of course this statement isn’t adhered to in any fashion by the journalistic press, at least those with somewhat reputable standards. Yet it’s still growing and expanding as a more common belief and the scary thing is that people haven’t even noticed.
We now live in tiny preferential realities where we can design our own truths and easily surround ourselves with things that prove those truths. Yet it’s just an aggregated fantasy, like my collection of hidden salad cream in the rafters, a day dream to seep the mundanity of real life away. To distract us from the real issues. The piling boxes and paper work that surrounds us and gobbles up every complex thought we want to explore. It’s a lot easier just to live that fantasy, to hit the like button. To exist in a world without challenge.