The overflow of information through internet has certainly not made us more open to absorb new information.
I find that most of us subscribe to information input that does little else than confirming what we already think.
I try to read stuff that will rub me the wrong way on a daily basis. I’ve always read CNN, every day I check it.
A friend saw me do it once, years ago, and I’ll never forget how shocked he was:
‘You read CNN???’
Yes, I read CNN.
Why should I check only news sources that will only confirm what I’m already feeling strongly about.
It takes some masochism to go through it, but I do it.
I see how an Iranian boat coming too close to an American navy ship close to Iranian borders is listed as ‘an Iranian provocation’. It’s an American provocation of course, since an armed American ship shouldn’t be so close to Iran in the first place. I see Russia being demonized every day. I see Israel getting away with anything, and I see Syria portrayed as the bad guys, always. In betwee I spot clickbait about 30 year olds who have become billionaires, because in order for the masses to embrace the current system we all need to be reminded that all of us can become billionaires.
To balance this I always check rt.com immediately afterwards. So I switch between American propaganda and Russian propaganda. RT has some excellent shows, like ‘on contact’ with Chris Hedges, the man is a real intellectual and interviews many interesting writers on the show, like Eric Foner who’s an expert on the Reconstruction era in US history. This is just one tiny example. I like many things about the show, and most of their articles deal with every day news, not with obscure figures. During the US election campaign they gave much needed attention to Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders, hardly obscure figures, though the US media likes to give them far less coverage than they deserve. I also loved the show ‘Breaking the Set’ by Abby Martin. She openly criticized Russia several times. Is RT propaganda? Yes, but so is CNN. I daily check rt and cnn, and somewhere in between lies the truth. The only news I don’t trust rt with, is the news on the internal affairs of Russia, I always skip that, but their coverage of the US is mostly accurate.
Opening the can of worms
Recently I’ve posted something about 9/11. Reluctantly. No, I don’t believe the official version. In fact, I don’t believe any version. I have the feeling Israel has something to do with it, that Israel may have gone to great lengths to pretend muslims did it. It’s a bit like string theory perhaps, there’s no proof but it suddenly explains a lot of things.
Immediately someone has to try and convince me that the official version is the only correct one.
This is of course a pointless and egotistical attempt, which leads to frustration on both sides. He can’t possibly convince me, since after literally weeks of watching anything I could find on the events, I’m firmly entrenced in the non-believer camp. His attempts to convince me make me dig in more. I’m also annoyed that he expects me to listen to his arguments whereas he ignores my arguments. I don’t even want to go in to this, because in the end the only thing that matters to me, is the truth, for me, not because I want to convince anybody, I know that’s pointless anyway. Perhaps mentioning something might spark someone else to look into it and come to his or her conclusions, but that’s it, I’m not out there screaming to people that they have to think what I think, because I’m quite sceptical of my own opinions. I’m still in doubt about certain aspect of the American Civil War, a subject I’ve reading about like a maniac since my early childhood. I’m so wary of discussions, because I have discussions in my head about all kinds of topics, non-stop, all the time, whether I want to have them or not.
Fragmenting into defensive tribes
We all seem to be retreating in camps where we re-confirm everything we already know and all opinions we already have. How many people who are anti-legalisation of drugs will go and read a book that is totally pro the legalisation of drugs with an attitude of ‘ok, give me your best shot, if you’re right it, I’ll admit it’. I know almost nobody with that kind of attitude.
We underestimate how our opinions are not really are opinions, but emotionally laden convictions that can almost all be linked back to our parents, childhood influences, our fragiel ego, our pride, etc.
If you comment on someone’s post and you disagree with that perhaps, you must have very little insight in the human psyche AND too much time on your hands, because you have ZERO chance of convincing that person that your opinion is the better one. You’ll only reinforce his opinion, because he doesn’t feel like you’ve attacked his opinion, he feels like you’ve attacked his ego, even if you put it very politely. So good luck with that. Perhaps be humble and wise and don’t comment. I know I have stopped commenting on newspaper articles, youtube video or Facebook posts, I just don’t comment. If I feel strongly about something, I put it on this blog. Mainly for myself and my wife and perhaps Benjamin Bossaert and five other people. That’s it. Ironically, the more I write for myself, the more visitors this blog is attracting, because January smashed all previous records. January 2018 had more visitors than the first four years of this blog put together…
It’s scary how we are fragmenting into little tribes with certain convictions that we reinforce.
It’s scary that the one thing you never know with communication between two people is whether there has really been any communication at all. We so rarely truly listen to someone else, especially if that person is saying stuff to us that we have emotional rejecting feelings about.
It’s also scary how people are so loyal to titles, authority figures and everything that comes with a stamp of ‘respectability’. When I was working for the stalinists in Belgium (PVDA), one of the most fundamentally anti-establishment parties in Europe probably, they still didn’t value their own propaganda rag or newspaper, they still only valued the newspapers of what they saw as their class enemies, the mouthpieces of the elite. People are funny. I’ve never met any real rebels, but the closest came the stalinists and even those were lame and very conformist in their actions, though they loved talking about revolutions.
It’s scary how completely tired you can become of discussing anything. These days when I get a comment on Facebook I’m already rolling my eyes before I’ve even read the comment. Just leave me alone. You won’t convince me of anything and I won’t convince you of anything. If you’re commenting just ask yourself in what way I’ve pushed your emotional buttons and leave me alone. If I could switch off the option to comment on posts I would.
I have the insane and extremely recent -in human history- luxury of shopping around between books and articles and documentaries to form my opinion on things, for no other reason than that I want to know EVERYTHING. I just want to know. I’m curious.
I don’t want to live, but I would like to be able to sit in front of a screen and watch all of humanity from day one till thousands of years into the future. By myself, with no people around. I’m deeply fascinated by people, but I most certainly do not enjoy interacting with them. I think people are scum and only fascinating from a safe distance.
But everything is very complicated and nuanced, in my role as a therapist I’m completely different, then I’m there, I’m present, ready to help, and capable of helping, but I don’t want to hang out with my clients and discuss anything. There are only a few people capable of having a real discussion, in which they are as open about arguments as I am, and aware of the reasons why they might want to believe something and might want to reject evidence pointing to contrary, in short, people who are aware how very biased they might be.
This also happens to be the mindset that you need to be a good therapist, whatever the client brings to the table, don’t judge.
Today I put something about Jordan Peterson on my blog. Some people who are probably not used to much intellectual input think that this man is a genius. I’m a fan of Jordan Peterson, I have read his most recent book twice and I’ve watched probably as much as 36 hours of him talking. The man is not a genius, he’s insightful, and most of the time he’s right, but he’s not a good historian for example, he just invents stuff on the go, intuitively, most of it is very good, he’s excellent at improvising.
What I’m completely allergic to is when people start raving about some celebrity. The guy is ok, but you don’t have to start drueling all over the screen and typing how you love him and how intelligent you are. Frankly, it makes you look dumb. The guy speaks with incredible conviction, he sounds so confident, and I like his voice, I’ve listened to him for hours and hours, but that’s it, he’s just a guy, he poops, he farts, his prostrate is growing just like yours if you’re a guy, and he’s read more books than the average person, something you could also easily do.
Don’t look down on people, and don’t look up to people either.
We are all humans. Deeply flawed creatures that need to be treated as though they are scumbags until abundantly and consistently proven otherwise.
Greetings from a person who used to be giving, generous, cheerful and very loving towards people, but has been taught, again and again, to curb his enthusiasm for humannotsokind, only to embrace a new found affection for splendid isolation.