We now live in a world where Kim Kardashian’s butt in a pair of “see-through” jeans is delivered to us by the internet feeding tubes as a real and unprotected moment caught by happenstance and not on purpose.  We know by now that nothing reality fame whores do is spontaneous — or even interesting any longer — their behavior is all so predictable and transparent and, frankly, boring. We exist in a constant “on” society where everything counts and nothing matters and the ideal of “over-sharing” being uncouth died with the invention of the broadband connection and the ever-dumber smartphone.

We all live the Kardashian curse.  With live-streaming Twitter video feeds from Meerkat and Periscope, the threat of Google Glass against our privacy in public is shredded!  Google Glass was a child’s fascination while these live-stream feeds from smartphones locks us into an always on, never-blinking, society where anyone can place your life on the live internet at will — their will, not yours — and what are you going to do about it except smile and go along for their ride with you leading the way?

The inexplicable need to go viral — to be important beyond the selfie and to be noticed by others in a pretend, organic, way — falsifies all of our lives; for nothing is possibly viral today because we’re all too hyper-aware and keen on sensing the non-genuine thriving all around us under the score of honesty and integrity.

We live in a predictable, preplanned world where nothing is allowed to breathe or be spontaneous.  Our agendas are scripted for public expression, online petition outrage, ongoing distribution and angry consumption — all so we might get on the nightly news or be quoted in Wikipedia as an expert in the inhuman condition.

The naturally occurring moment of humanity has disappeared from our lives and that is something we should genuinely mourn.  Our spontaneity and naivete no longer exist.

The biggest fake is “reality television” — which either neither of the sort and nothing of the matter — because everything is pre-written and pre-determined and incredibly cynical in its effects on the Observer. The only reality television that actually worked was the first season of The Real World on MTV where people were unwittingly exposed and vulnerable and unfiltered; ever since — everyone is camera aware.

The only thing that is sort of real is the cruel everyday April Fooling of our children on TV — especially those kids with parents in the military who “surprise” their children on camera by first pretending to be someone else — like a ballplayer or a school mascot, until the live “reveal” for the TV screen: “No, I’m not who you thought I was, I’m actually the father you haven’t seen for six months, now give me a good hug and make it look right with crying and everything; we’re on video, for crying out loud!”

Our “real” experiences have been reduced to feeling horrible and awkward for those emotionally exploited children, or the kids who are high on painkillers and are videoed on the ride home from the dentist by their mother who wants her drugged up son to say “something funny” so she can get more Social Media hits and become “viral” — but only in her own exploitative mind.

I fear we are too far apart from the inevitable result of an opened Pandora’s Box, and we’re now living in the everlasting shining that will never filter into darkness and shall always refuse to go away. We’re caught in the perpetual false smile and the never ending moment of always wondering who’s watching us — by the millions! — on a hidden live stream in which we star, but can never really begin to see.

6 Comments

  1. David, You write with those lazer-beam powers of cultural-societal observation that Dr.Stein, our mutual mentor, saw and promoted in you at Columbia U.

    Keep up the good work!

    Neal

    Sent from my iPad Neal Golden-Lekwa 206-459-7676

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    1. Hi Neal!

      Great to have you with us! Thanks for the kind words!

      Yes, Howard Stein always pressed us — as you well-know! — to be vigilant and proactive and to never disappear or give up. We live on through him!

  2. David, we don’t know each other, but you’ve put into words what I’ve felt and what’s been tormenting me for a long time now: this miserable, weary feeling that there is nothing real or authentic about the society we live in. Sometimes I wonder if it’s my own pessimism or cynicism, or maybe just a twisted form of psychological projection, but it’s a feeling on a gut level that something is really, irreparably fucked about our society.

    As you wrote, it’s almost like nothing can happen nowadays without being photographed or filmed, and that potential always exists. And that’s a particularly beautiful and profound way of expressing it: “We’re caught in the perpetual false smile.” To even make a living, one has to practically whore oneself out. Employers expect more and more out of employees, and if you try to live outside of normal employment you run the risk of wage slavery or poverty… I guess it’s always been that way to some degree, but it feels like it’s getting worse. We live in a society where people are constantly “performing” as opposed to just being themselves. (But the notion of self maybe has been so deconstructed that whatever potential self might exist is impossible to realize, prone as we are to dissecting everything as opposed to just letting something be.) A society where every sentence is measured for the effect it will have rather than its inherent truthfulness. Where everything from art to love has been banalized, commoditized, and cheapened. Where you can become a different person by buying a set of new clothes, or by adopting certain affectations… Where people quote TV shows and movies and don’t have original thoughts or ideas of their own, because everything is borrowed from elsewhere and hardly anyone really truly looks inward… True, I’ve met some people who’ve disproved everything I’ve just said, but they’re truly few and far in between, and they’re beautiful and broken souls caught in and suffocating under this Hollywoodized society we’ve created for ourselves…

    But the saddest part? We can deliver rants like these, and people might nod their heads and say, “Yeah, that is how it is,” but then completely forget about it minutes later. Such nuggets of truth can be “liked” on Facebook for instance or applauded on a stage, but no one actually gives a damn. And no one has the time to read them anyway. It all just revolves around social standing in the end. I’m not sure if you’ve read or are familiar with Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle, but in my opinion its observations and analyses ring true, and perhaps even truer, in the 21st century, even if he can be a little heavy-handed. David Foster Wallace also had some sharp insights in both his fiction and essays, especially in observing that most people cannot stand to be bored anymore… Solitude and silence are seen as undesirable. Introspection is laughed at. People expect to constantly be entertained, and when there is a moment of personal profundity it is subsequently banalized by being posted on facebook. Nothing is truly personal anymore.

    But at the same time I suppose we have the choice to break away from all that. But how? Our daily lives are flooded with media and corporate influence. Seemingly everything has a price. Everything is owned or else purchasable.

    I probably sound like an old curmudgeon. And I apologize for the extended monologue, but you’ve really hit a vein with your post. Our world needs more honesty.

    1. Thanks for sharing your excellent, insight, Arthur!

      You’re right that we’re pretty doomed in many ways — and the string being pulled is generational — the older poops like me, and the older spirited poops like you — see exactly what’s happening around us, what’s being lost, and what’s being degraded, and yet we fearfully know everyone behind us, or against us, doesn’t really care as long as they can keep their smartphone and selfies and have virtual relationships.

      As the real dissolves around us — and we’ll be the last to go, because publishing and entertainment and economics and education and love are all already ethereal and living in the mist — and when our times comes, and we become encapsulated, and enslaved, by the very technology we claim to loathe and love, it will all be over and nothing will change or get better until the reboot button is pressed again on civilization and everything goes back to base one and the reinvention of the wheel and indoor plumbing.

      Those sorts of catastrophic resets are not unique in civilization — I just never thought I’d live long enough to be a part of one.