Meat Space, The Virtuals and Solutions

“Something in us is telling us we’re moving too fast, at a pace dictated by machines rather than by anything human, and that unless we take conscious measures, we’ll permanently be out of breath.” Pico Iyer

So, I’m stopped at the light separating Manhattan Beach from El Segundo heading north on Sepulveda Boulevard. Twilight has just made its muting appearance and the quintessential Southern California smog-blurred shroud actually provides definition to the dark colored craft making its descent into LAX some four miles away.

It was a moment of whoops, there it is and there it was.  For me, the moment represented the paradoxical nature of 21st century life.

Speed is “the” marketplace indispensable of today.  It’s the “out of the gate fast and break things along the way” mentality. It’s the not-so-subtle petition to “get it done now.”

Military strategists add credence to this approach.  Long ago, they discovered initial judgment calls are 70% correct.  On the battlefield, next week’s plan of perfection generates a 100% fatality rate today.

Speed is essential.  We are in a continual race to get ahead, keep up and never fall behind.  It never ends.  But, we are not machines.  However, in our adaptive quest, it seems some infectious strain, an inflexible miscegenation of sorts is transforming and corrupting the human condition to something less than human.

Now, you’re probably saying, “this guy is a regular party animal “funster”, sure to wow-the-crowd at the next barbecue or taffy-pull.”  Get me started on the Dewey Decimal System and its non-stop hilarity.

This piece is not an homage to Don Quixote or an expression of tacit support to some modern-day Luddite resurgence.  And, who’s to say the “Luddies” weren’t just misunderstood land reformers that got bad press.  You never know.

Recent studies bolster the perception that humanity adapts to environment.  Our thoughts, our beliefs are formed by our surroundings; and that’s what concerns me.

Here’s what I mean.  Years ago, pediatric experts concocted a technology that would do everything short of burping the baby.  For starters, the system rocked cradles and changed diapers. At the time, it was billed as the most exciting advancement in child-care development, freeing Mom from maternal chores.

If the old saw about the hand rocking the cradle ruling the world is true, then imagine the devastating consequence of this misguided delusion if it had gained universal acceptance. By that standard, Elliott, of Cable’s Mr. Robot, would be the heir-apparent, poster child of the millennia.

What makes this program so popular is viewer titillation.  I am as guilty of it as the next person.  It is similar to the powerful seduction of gawking at the grisly.  It attracts and repulses simultaneously.  What is perverse is the acceptance of the show as entertainment while, on the sidelines, vicariously witnessing and trumpeting the descent and decline of mankind.

For the viewer, in the grand scheme of things, the program rarely presents a counterbalance to the “gigaflop” conquest in the long run at the bequest of “short term cool.”

It’s a different take on bread and circuses with gigabytes.

Think that’s over the top?  As opposed to virtual reality inhabited by “Geekdom”, Cyberpunk has devised an interesting term for humanity: “Meatspace.”

Talk about the intentional capitulation to the intangible. The word, “quisling” comes to mind.

I’m over 50 and still cling to the belief that nothing takes the place of the human touch.  Playing with my Grandson, laughing with my daughters, getting together with friends and holding hands with my wife are moments so far beyond bandwidth envy.

Call me crazy but I just don’t get the same “warm and fuzzies” while tapping away on my Toshiba desktop.

Today, I paid the cable bill but had some questions regarding a charge. So, while waiting to be connected to a service rep, a prompt interrupted the transfer stating that a $5.00 surcharge would be added to my next statement for the crime of speaking to an operator.

It’s bad enough to be forced blindly to accepting a prerecorded digital ultimatum and then penalized for speaking to a programmed human; that is contemptible.

A Future Foundation study reveals that the unhappiest people in the world are those spending much of their time on Social Media. This affects their career, their self-image, mood and even their energy.  In fact, the survey points out that many of them wish they resembled their online profile.

Their personal web portrait is so BS top-heavy that they can’t live up to their own fabrication.  However, the pretense is met with overwhelming approval by like-minded disciples that perpetuate the fraud.

Then somehow, the dreaded pull of “Meatspace” reality seeps through the self-spawned bogus curtain, forcing the “virtual” to accept reluctantly the Hollywood adage:  “Never believe your own publicity.”

Call it “The Conceit of Self-Doubt.”

The old line about meeting the enemy and it’s us takes on greater dimension with every passing day.

And then, in the quest for higher profit margins, business is complicit in diminishing the value of the human condition by creating customer incentives for passively accepting preset dictates devoid of actual free choice.

So, what do you do?  Author/Businessman Max de Pree said it best, “We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.”

Today, more than ever before, information is an essential key to success.  Forget bitcoin.  Information is the universal currency. We need what we need when we need it: stat.  But, as much as possible, avoid the distraction of being side-tracked into self-revelation schemes.

It’s easy to zone out while online.  Before that awareness kicks in, we have submitted to an incidental craving as a momentary reprieve from an essential assignment while quickly and unknowingly relinquishing personal revelations and intelligence.

From now on,  I won’t respond to those supplemental attention-grabbing, beguiling and bordering-on-the-bizarre headlines located at the bottom of an article or website such as, “The Billionaire’s Secrets to Staying Rich”, “Woman with 3 Boobs Reveals Cancer Cure.”  You get the idea. These are “gotchas.”

Anybody know how to get rid of “Ad Choice” pop ups?  Please let me know.

I’m avoiding Facebook as much as possible and staying away from the rating of posts or emails. Oh, and I’m never revealing my location.  I’m even careful of those I follow.

Linked in, that’s a whole different story. It’s professional.

Recently, I checked online the cost of the train from London to Paris.  Now, I’m infested with online billboard incursions related to it.  From now on, I’ll call.

It reminds me of when I stopped at the light separating Manhattan Beach from El Segundo while heading north on Sepulveda Boulevard.  Off in the distance was the silhouette of a plane landing at LAX.

I see that moment now as analogous to a demarcation line; maintaining the  essence of humanity as we know it as opposed to willingly surrendering it all to the non-real as it makes its final approach.