I am a major Greenie, liberal-conservative socialist (who lives off the grid). Or, better put: non-partisan in every way. No party says what I want to hear, no party does what I want them to do and all the parties seem to stumble and fail. Worse for me, I do not trust them. And that is even true for MY own levels of government – it is even worse when trying to relate to foreign governments. So, being in relationship to my ‘system’ or our ‘institutions’ is very difficult for me. Relationship to say, Russia, China or even the bloody US of A is impossible.
Modern 1st world relationships are now mostly just built on shallow, superficial, transactional communications anyway. We message, we e-transfer cash, we order on Amazon, we work-from-home, we give our help through charities! In the old days, relationships were built on shared community tasks, mutual suffering and hardships (like war, famine and natural disasters). It included the influence of family connections, neighbourhoods and regions, religion, occupation and culture but those bonding influences have waned considerably in the last few decades. We don’t have that anymore.
With Covid, we do not even have the option! In-person verbal/written communication has moved away from proximity and the nuances of body language and facial expressions so basic to human intimacy and trust building. If we don’t at the very least have dialogue/conversation/proximity/involvement, we cannot have any kind of meaningful relationship. And, for touchy-feely folks like me, conversation by email, phone and ZOOM fail to make the grade.
And it is getting worse. Zuckerberg and his ilk are leading the push to AI (artificial intelligence). Call centres (a major spoke in the Consumer wheel) defy almost all the communication basics with culture, region, nation, language and commonalities abandoned for ‘canned’ questions and answers. And (a personal aside) I cannot stand FAQs and Chatlines either.
In many ways, it is all illustrated succinctly by modern surveys. The questions asked often have no relevance to the answers the participant wants to give. We fit our opinions on a sliding scale of one to five based on chosen ‘issue’ that is incidental or irrelevant to our real concerns. It is almost as if we designed these surveys to confuse and mislead rather than enhance information exchange. I obviously don’t trust surveys either.
Politicians nowadays know this instinctively and have evolved a form of communication that says nothing and means nothing. They can’t risk real communication because, as elitists, they have no common bonds with the people. No relationship. When they speak, they do not communicate.
Thank God Trump was basically a horrible person, communicator, speaker, writer but he has the instincts and skills of a good con-man. He stayed close to his base. He schmoozed ’em. He kept a human toe in the pool with his rallies. He communicated with skillfully rehearsed body language and buzz-words, slogans and a visceral appeal to those who exist at primarily a visceral level. He was and is a Machiavellian populist. Trump is a populist pig but he could oink and wallow when needed. The pigs understood what he was saying…… They enjoyed his company. But he did that for the con, not relationship. He has no real relationships.
So, where does all that leave us? Well, we have clearly abandoned the ‘getting-to-know-you’ part of relationship these days…..and we have eliminated the ‘need-to-trust-you’ in relationship with e-transfer and Pay-Pal and lawyers. We have, instead, embraced “I-want-your-money” as a sufficient common denominator but it is NOT relationship. It is not community. And I fear that it is so ‘not-strengthening-society’ and that our common-ness is being eroded more and more. We are losing community, society and humanity as we keep going down this road to ‘economic efficiency’. Basically, we are quickly losing touch with one another and the society we built.
Probably nothing says that more clearly than Facebook. There is a medium that requires no personal, intimate, sincere relationship whatsoever and yet it has largely replaced many levels of relationship except for those who work or live closely with one another. You no longer need to know your neighbour – they are on your Facebook page. That’s good enough.
The point: we may have, as a species, shot ourselves in the foot. At a point in history when humanity is facing the largest existential threat ever (the 6th Extinction is the name given), we can’t communicate. We are NOT in relationship. There is little trust and lots of polarization. We do not have a plan. We do not have leaders. And we are running out of time.
“Dave, why say that? What good does it do?”
I dunno…..just a thought, I guess. But, if there is anything to what I just said, then this is the message: get off of Facebook and Twitter as a form of communication. Get off social media as a means of acquiring information (OK, ‘cept for me, of course!). Use cash more. Drop chit-chat and introduce REAL talk that emotes, feels and strives for understanding, empathy and intimacy. But, given the timing, this might be the time to also up the output of ‘real’ messages to your politicians and eliminate any dissembling in your own life. We just no longer have time for BS and ignorance.