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Predict At Your Own Peril

Like many people, I have been following the political race pretty closely and have been surprised bordering on shocked in the way that the candidates respective roles have been portrayed. I understand that there is a whole grammatical ballet around how one presents a candidate, there is an entire lexicon available to refer to candidates with the correct meaning, but as we refer to the “Presumptive” nominees it seems as though we take our data to higher and higher platitudes (with a nod to the late Mayor Dailey).  It seems as if because we can sample data and make predictions from it that these predictions are obliged to have the future oblige the prediction.  An off colour remark by a candidate and the pundits  are showing us how this will put his future victory in peril, all charted with colour maps showing  delegates hanging like low-pressure systems awaiting the next prediction to blow them to a different course. Maybe we are looking to be ruled by the predictive force of algorithms in place of our own free will. We still have a voice but we won’t for long we allow the predictions to become the dictators of reality.

 

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A Change of Direction

In addition to the beautiful writing, I have been taken by the central idea behind Robin Wall Kimmerer’s “Braiding Sweetgrass” asking that we reexamine our relationship to our environment, asking us to create “cultures of regenerative reciprocity” and invoking a relaationship to the earth like the native americans; taking just what we need and no more, remembering that giving is as important as getting and to have respect for where our gifts come.  She laments the winner take all mentality we take to the planet, noting that in the long run, we are the losers.   The impact and importance on the environment is clear as is the importance of this new paradigm she proposes. The thing that I found interesting was the parallel to the new paradigm that social media has created. It seems that the only reason that social networks survive is our generosity with not only our time but our information, opinions and lives. We must feel the need for gratitude for our efforts for 35% of people check their mobile phones before getting out of bed while 80% of smartphone users check their smartphone before brushing their teeth.  Why else would we do this unless it filled a need, a need to have our gift acknowledged and hopefully commented upon, liked and retweeted?

It seems that what Kimmerer is looking for in our relationship to the world is what we are already doing in our relationship to social media. To give first, not expecting anything in return but being thankful and grateful for what we get, to take the gifts of others and share them hopefully respecting the dignity of their words and thoughts. The top down model, where content flows from top down is over, hopefully we can bring this new interactive approach to other relationships in our life and our world. While this new media destroyed the old media hopefully the social media paradigm will bear with it the seeds to save our world.

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Tears in the rain

I had the pleasure of showing my son Ridley Scott’s, “Blade Runner” a few weeks ago and while it was a pleasure to see the movie again, it brought up some interesting questions. As you may recall, the movie deals with Decker, Harrison Ford’s character must track down and “retire” human looking robots. At the end of the movie, Decker is “retiring” one of the robots (Ruger Hauer) who begins a stunning monologue lamenting how his experiences, his memories must die with him. It’s a beautiful and well known scene that got me thinking about memory, virtual and otherwise. What if we could download our experiences, our memories to a computer to be saved forever? All of our experiences saved forever and for anyone to take out and reexamine. Would we ever examine another’s life, take the time to sift through all the moments, to possibly find a diamond insight in the rough of time. Will we find ourselves in a Kardashian inspired nightmare, obsessed by  watching someone else’s life that we lose sight of our own.   Perhaps we might  find respect for the miracle that is our own separate moment in time, available only to us and only shared by communal experience and those who care to hear the tale.

 

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“EMILY: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?”

STAGE MANAGER: “No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.”
― Thornton WilderOur Town

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Alone again, electronically

I have a an old friend with whom I have a long and rather confessional-like  relationship, in short we are the one who knows where the bodies are buried for the other- the person who knows those dark truths and will never share them.  We have known each other for years and I was quite taken aback when he mentioned that he was on Grinder- a gay meet up app. Shocked- I said, “ I didn’t know you were gay” – to which he replied-“no-no-  I’m not- I just use it to chat with other guys. I spend so much time at work it’s almost impossible even chat with other guys my age and that’s what I use it for” It seems that the conversations can be seldom about sex and are often more about connecting with another person. The drive to electronic connection seems to have destroyed the emotional connection-making us less and less personally connected and more cyber-lonely. Polls rank the United States the loneliest places on earth (1). It seems we may be evolving into a world with many “likes” but no loves.

 

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With a nod to Gilbert O’ Sullivan; you can hear “Alone Again” here

 

1 “America Is The Loneliest Country In The World – Is It Because We’ve Abandoned The Traditional Family Structure?” Infowars. Accessed June 01, 2016. http://www.infowars.com/america-is-the-loneliest-country-in-the-world-is-it-because-weve-abandoned-the-traditional-family-structure/.

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