Let's Talk Tech

Just for fun, let’s do a bit of musing, speculation, daydreaming even about the future based on broad predictive generalizations discovered in THEE, specifically the Spiral of Political Maturation

Let’s imagine that it’s 100 years in the future.

Let’s assume that things are very different. Perhaps the human race has extricated itself from the current political mess. The plutocrats have been toppled, powerless in the face of mass collective action. Maybe banks don’t lend 100 times more than they possess after no more governments and international financial institutions were left that could afford to bail them out. Maybe bail-outs are a thing of the past, relegated to one of those laughable (yet unfortunate) pieces of history—like when doctors told us it was healthy to smoke. Maybe this entire list of things came true.

How did it happen?

Can’t really say except that we realized we created the mess, so we could create the pathway out.

This, the wars, the endless economic uncertainty, the political obfuscation, the faux democracy where votes are merely appeasement tactics, the totalitarian undercurrent that flows beneath the newspaper headlines, the corporate control, the bought policy, the endless noise of discord, the collective panic—let’s assume it’s all gone. What remains is a more pure democracy. Maybe votes are counted in tweets. The body of people make decisions for their society as one, rather than politicians making choices for their benefactors in bills and laws with names like “The Poverty Relief Act” or “The Patriot Act.”

Of course, it’s not utopia—whatever that is. There are still problems. Perhaps where every decision is made by the majority, the minority gets sandbagged. Maybe when we don’t trust the politicians anymore, (why would we, they burned us over and over again) leaders aren’t allowed enough power to make potentially important decisions, and the idealism that inspires us is no longer tolerated for fear that it’s merely another line of beautiful, yet empty words. Bringing it to the now, think “hope” and “change.” 

But how about technology, the brain candy of optimistic futurists who excitedly wait for the “hybrid human” and “the singularity?” New advances will have rocked society, no doubt. But the Internet is over 100 years old at this point. The novelty will have worn off. Are these mobile workers, once proud of their progressivism, still so new and exciting? Or are they the new cubicle workers, crowded into coffee shops for long hours and low pay?

Today, when the Internet is barely 20 years old, we’re already hearing complaints of dehumanization, disconnection, the new generation’s inability to read anything longer than 140 characters. What about privacy and individuality? Imagine a Facebook page that has broadcasted the minutia of a person’s entire life—from 13 years-old ‘till death. The study of history will be quite a bit less speculation perhaps, but what of your life do you get to keep for yourself?

A lifetime of one’s face bathed in the florescent glow of an iPad screen sounds grim to me, but I myself still have difficulties tearing myself away from the computer. At times, nature seems foreign and actually speaking with people face to face seems a chore.

THEE speaks of a spiritual crisis on our distant horizon. I am convinced this technological revolution will play a central role. When the soul of humanity is quiet, after the crushing confusion of our current society has settled down, we will have time to think about who and what we are and the world we’ve created for ourselves. It might not be pretty.

Do I have any real friends? Am I some sort of cyborg? Have Netflix and YouTube raised my children? Is education merely a series of Google searches?

Extreme? Perhaps, or not extreme enough.

What could happen if we live and move through humanity as a whole? The global village, the singularity of all of humanity’s interconnection, the distrust of idealism and individuality might amount to some homologous set of meta-values that aren’t actually values at all.

Will right and wrong, good and bad, beauty and truth and justice become some sort of watered-down relativity? Perhaps we will become the torch and pitchfork-wielding crowd—all 10 or so billion of us. 

Interesting questions, no answers. Of all the THEE frameworks, the Spiral of Political Maturation has most kept me on my toes. It gives me so much to wonder about and no specifics, which is understandable. We’re talking about the future. But it gives me a chance to wonder and speculate about the trajectory of society—which is always fun.

What do you think? Can technology only be a good thing, or do we have some reason to be wary?

Difficulties in Language Arising from Distinct Usage Types

The newbie walked in to The Don’s office. It was old-school classy: wingback stuffed leather chairs, snifters on a tall mahogany table, everything wood and deep red. A lingering cloud of smoke from the consigliore’s cigar hung in the air. He sat down across from The Don, who leaned back in his chair, a warm and welcoming look on his face.

“Sit down,” he said in his strained, breathy voice.

“Thank you Don,” the newbie said, a false air of confidence in his tone.

“I have a problem with Giuseppe’s wine shop on the corner of 3rd and Franklin,” The Don said, “I want you to take care of it for me.”

“Of course, Don,” the newbie replied, “anything for you.”

The Don said, suddenly grave and serious, “I want you to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

The newbie was confused. He paused. His thick New Jersey accent came out and he said, “What, like a million dollars or something?”

The Don was flabbergasted. He swiveled his chair toward the consigliore, who stood behind him, stoic, and said, “Who is this guy, I thought you said he could be trusted.” He swiveled back toward the newbie. “No, I want you to threaten to rub him out.”

The newbie was visibly shaken, nervous. He said, his voice quivering, “I don’t understand, Don, like with a big eraser?”

Where can I go with this? Is newbie politely escorted out of the room? Shot? Given formal instruction on the lingo of the mob?

Perhaps The Don would have been better off being more concrete, something along the lines of:

“I want you to get in your car, drive to 3rd and Franklin, park your car, walk into Giuseppe’s wine shop and inform him in no uncertain terms that we will kill him unless he gives us our money.”

What we have here is a case of associative language gone awry. Of course, if you’ve seen any of The Godfather movies, you know what The Don was talking about. This method of using language is one of the reasons language so often goes wrong.

Imagine being a third wheel in a conversation between two very old friends. They seem to speak in code, complete with inside jokes, references to experiences only they shared, nicknames, subtext, words with double meanings and slang. No doubt you and your friends or significant other have a similar sort of way of communicating.

It’s also one of the reasons learning a new language can be difficult. I spent a year studying French in college before actually traveling to France. I was so confident with my conjugations, my infinitives and had built a nice working vocabulary. But when I got there, I found it was one thing to make myself understood—not terribly difficult—but it was nearly impossible to understand anyone. I can only assume what I was hearing was a barrage of informal, associative language.

This use of language framework in THEE is a relatively new and underdeveloped addition to the website. Much is yet to be discovered or not quite precise enough and it cries out for your feedback. 

This is one of those THEE phenomena that, when you read it, you realize that it’s referring to something very common and unremarkable in your life, something you’ve known intuitively for as long as you could speak. But it’s when depicting the whole that it becomes useful.

Associative language is one of seven types of using language, and maybe the most common. But knowing about the other six is useful because each of them have their appropriate time and place. For example, you use Concrete language when you follow a recipe. You take advantage of Universal language when you read a newspaper article about a complex topic outside of your expertise. Ironically, those with expertise in said topic may find the article total garbage, because their knowledge on the topic has them using Conceptual language, which allows for far greater understanding of complex concepts.

As a writer and artist, I take the most pride in my work when I effectively use Gestalt language, the language type designed to awaken inner awareness and excite passion, rich in metaphor, metonymy and imagery. It is the language of the poets, sages and great orators.

Understanding the differences in using language types goes along way in communicating effectively. In what type would you say this blog is written?

Order out of Apparent Chaos

The line a mountain range creates against a blue-sky backdrop; the waves on a beach—one timidly approaching your toes, the next engulfs your knees; the dizzying scope of diversity of life on Earth; a spinning rock hurtling through space, circling a raging fireball, itself hurtling through space. It all seems so random, like there’s no rhyme or reason to it all—just pure happenstance. Our very existence defies incredible odds.

A blade of grass’ existence defies incredible odds. But upon closer examination, there’s an order to everything. Perhaps at times, it’s so complex that understanding it would be impossible—or just too much work. But the rules of physics and chemistry and biology are consistent throughout. Take a wider perspective and it’s easy to realize that Earth is far from the only rock spinning through space. And with all those planets and all those stars, it’s almost silly to think ours is the only one with life. What’s more, life on another planet almost certainly conforms to the same basic rules of physics, chemistry and biology that life on Earth does.

Randomness is an illusion. And though it can be a convincing one at times, it can only fool you if you’re merely scanning the surface of physical phenomena.

What about the non-physical? Perhaps there are parallels.

First of all, is there a non-physical?

Some (even many) claim that there isn’t. But they’re ignoring some pretty obvious stuff. Is there such a thing as language, you might ask? Anyone would undoubtedly agree that there is. “But that is merely a human construction,” they might reply.


Humans constructed language; it now undeniably exists. Humans also constructed societies, which also undoubtedly exist. But are these tangible objects? Obviously, their products are. Without language, there would be no books for example. Without societies, there would be no social institutions, like religions or governments. But these physical phenomena originated within humans somehow. Is it possible to look into those origins?

Moving on…

Is there a “human nature?” Truly, we are all unique, but aren’t we all the same as well?

I found that traveling confirmed this for me.

Still, doesn’t human endeavor seem random and chaotic? Think about the staggering variation that arises out of 7 billion individual “wills” acting out their own little dramas simultaneously.

But again, we’re looking at things from too wide an angle.

Let’s examine spirals. They occur with shocking regularity in nature, from the double helix of a DNA strand to the formation of nautilus shells to massive spiral galaxies. And check out this video:

 Crazy, right!? We’re moving through a spiral at this very moment! As it turns out, each of us is probably moving through more than a few spirals at this very moment.

They emerge in THEE as well—a structure of the non-physical aspects of living a human life. Spirals represent our movement and progression through various states of existence in time. Much like nature’s spirals, they range from small (individual) such as the spiral of career development to massive (social) tracking society’s political development.

A clarification and classification of psychological and social elements as found in THEE is proof that there is order in the microcosm of each individual person. There is order in their interactions, their decisions, their communication, and anything else that is unique to being human.

Within each of us lies a structure (albeit an abstract one) that can be ordered and studied as usefully and concretely as the periodic table of elements.

Of course, THEE is highly complex and dynamic. But particle physics is complex and dynamic.

The hope is that someday, perhaps in a distant future, humanity will embrace this new way of understanding of itself. That added bonus? THEE does not exclude any existing knowledge. Perhaps the most succinct way to describe THEE:

“We structure the world using the structure that structures us.”

Required Reading, Dredging the Comments and Good People

Last week, I talked about my experiences with rising to a challenge and being creative in my blog, “Tuna Sandwiches, Tattoos and the Dreaded Stork.” It got me thinking—as I often do—about politics. 

Do nations and societies get creative in the same sense? Must they face a challenge with positivity and optimism? While it’s true that there is no psychosocial entity without individuals (governments, organizations and societies could not exist without individuals), can these concepts geared toward individuals apply to larger social structures?

It seems a logical leap. There is a sense of a collective optimism, or pessimism. That, I imagine, is what’s pollsters hope to convey with things like approval ratings and media scholars look for in their surveys of newspaper editorials. What’s the general malaise, the overall sentiment, the zeitgeist?

My sense—just based on my observations of my society—is that the current malaise is anything but positive or optimistic. I feel that the average person can’t even wrap their head around the knot of problems they and their societies face these days.

Despite my strong urge to do so, I’ll spare you the list of said problems. You probably know as well as I do. But I’ll give a couple of examples.

I’m taking a class in college this semester in which the professor has decided it will be fun for us all to get together and discuss the most controversial, hot button topics of the day. Just imagine! Most of my classmates are significantly younger than me, even by as much as a decade. The professor is quite liberal, and he has disclosed that fact, He’s assigned a book to guide our discussions that is about a stone’s throw away from the Communist Manifesto. Let’s just say I’ve become the class devil’s advocate.

Anyway, what comes out of these discussions is often sheer, soul-crushing defeatism. Democracy is hopeless, capitalism is a fraud, people are greedy and selfish and destructive. And there’s nothing anybody can do about it. The worst part: the professor agrees! This authority figure charged with molding young minds is basically indoctrinating us with his neg-head worldview. There's not much to be gained when we just say how much everything sucks.

Or look at this comment I ran across on the popular social news site, Reddit. The forum topic was: “If you could remove anything from existence, what would it be?” One answer:

“Humanity. Humans are failures of evolution. We've completely lost touch with nature and now we're defending ourselves from diseases that should have killed us. We are an infestation. I would prefer for life to continue on the planet, and with humans, that doesn't seem possible.” 

Yikes! I mean, I’m no stranger to online drama, but that one really struck me. I just wanted to give the guy a hug and say, “C’mon now buddy, we’re not so bad.”

The truth is we’re not totally bad, or evil, or some sorry lot of ne’er do well’s. Life can be difficult, with regular conflict or even continuous struggle. More than the idea that some people are good and some are not, the truth is that people without awareness find themselves tricked by charisma or self-protection into releasing their worse sides and calling it good.

Really think about it. For every news report about a murder or rape or the oppression of peoples by a heartless dictator, there are thousands of untold stories. Stories of small kindnesses, great personal triumphs, or even the day-to-day humdrum of parents going to work, paying their bills and spending a nice afternoon at the park with their kids. That’s beautiful stuff.

My classmates lament that America produces so few rags-to-riches tales. They ask: Where is the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet? My answer? Well, he’ll be here eventually, but what about the average guy who is the first in his family to graduate from college, get a decent-paying job and live everyday proud that he can comfortably provide for his family. That story happens every single day.

I get it. I do. I have these feelings of dread. I doubt the virtue of my culture, my country, and the human race. But then I just take a look around my neighborhood. There’s nothing but good, decent people. Literally.

It’s just a matter of perspective and to simply remember that goodness is not rare. I bet you’d be hard-pressed to think of even one person you know who truly and deliberately wants an unhappy life, a crime-ridden, dysfunctional society or the pain and suffering of others. There really aren’t that many out there. In fact, I would submit that evil barely even exists at all, just less good and people who have lost their way.

As for the social/political/economic problems we face, it’s going to work out some way or another. I’m optimistic. We are a species of wondrous creativity.