The social dilemma: What is the problem?
This year has burned away like a wildfire overtaking our spirits and days. We are heavily fatigued and utterly confused as to how 2020 was profitable. But what if 2020 gave us the hardest look into our “social dilemma?”
The Social Dilemma, released in January of 2020, is a documentary aimed at addressing the pitfalls of social media as a medium that has entered a coexistence, if not a leading role, within society. In the documentary, various noteworthy and instrumental people in the digital world involved in developing and marketing social media discussed their concerns over the operating premise of social media engagements. Inherent in the design of those platforms is manipulation - a crafted bias and control of information that obscures and limits truth. It is certainly worth watching for many intriguing deductions about society’s growing derailment and the part social media plays, but the number one intriguing questions was,
“What exactly IS the problem?”
When asked point-blank, to define the exact problem the modern human race faces, one after another featured commentator paused, unable to answer this question plainly. They felt the answer was too complex; however, the root problem in a society crafted by social media is simply, “Each human is convinced he or she knows what is best.” This arrogance born of what appears to be access to unbiased information and the perceived discernment to digest it all alone is the problem. An expert is born every 15 seconds. In the end there is division, untold polarization, and obscuring of truth as a byproduct of a flawed unilateral processing system.
How could the pandemic help rectify the social dilemma?
The undercurrents during the pandemic fed dominoes that set in motion so many things as riptides sending society reeling literally every day of these long months. What of spring break, the end of school, summer adventures and relaxation worry-free, fall and the exciting resumption of school, and holidays to come? What of the elderly - so marginalized, of the youth - so eager to taste life, and everyone in between? Each family has a unique cluster of considerations and we are all working to numbing exhaustion to find that middle ground that is Truth.
The pandemic has created an unprecedented opportunity for exposing the toxic social media climate we identify in. By its required social distancing, selective socialization, social accountability, and measures for sheer survival, the pandemic can reconcile the growing layers of facades and straw men principles and prompt the reinstitution of fundamental truths. At the beginning of the pandemic, a global fury was on to secure ourselves to wait for clarity on how SARS-COV 2 would impact society. This extreme and global lock down created a universal pause button.
Although technology aided humanity to stay connected, productive and entertained in a global shut in, society soon admitted how human contact was essential and a missed elixir. While we face the inescapably arduous task of developing what vaccines and mitigatable treatments we can, we are invited to take inventory of our self identify, self worth, affiliations, priorities, joys, needs, purpose, unhappiness, dependency on distractions, waste, want, and future. We turn to the few beside us during the initial uncertainty and the ongoing global crisis and truer colors are seen.
By rekindling our basic self awareness and exercising the courage to look inward, we position ourselves to move forward better than ever. That universal pause button has slayed the society we were becoming against our better judgement and fundamental constructs. How can we be together while being safely apart, and what will we recall of the last months of this epic year?
In the Social Dilemma there is a powerful statement expressing the notion that our minds are unevolved for millions of years yet the technology to both feed and trick our minds is rapidly evolving at a pace that will soon sabotage our ability to have or even maintain human progress.
What are the basic truths?
Basic tenets include health and well being, human presence, basic supplies including food and water, social contracts that provide safety and regards for all sexes, creeds, and ages, safe livelihoods that produce meaningful products and safe engagements, and finally, entertainment when safe and once all other things are afforded first. These basic needs are the bare bones of the human experience and by stripping down and reinstituting first the most important, then the remainder, and seeing the urgency of the lesser needs boil over, we begin to see the failings of society to create a fundamental substance in the social structure.
How do we exercise truth in these days to come?
We can ask for technology to serve the user better rather than allow it to use humanity to basically cannibalize itself. We can literally redesign the days and demands to reprioritize the time we spend and the circumstances in which we do so. We can slow down the pace of engagement and map out the best value for engagements. We can choose social venues that create safe spaces that regard all within society respectfully. We can allocate for children, and children with special needs, their dues. We can carve out a place for elderly to be served and be engaged. We can understand the gaps in our social structure where marginalized members fall out and how we have used certain platforms like schools to find those in need and fill those gaps but will use other means and other designs to fill gaps. We can foresee the ramifications of a society that is running from distraction to distraction to fill fundamental holes in relationships, and to avoid self reflection of worth and purpose. We can then ask society to make fundamentally more fulfilled, more substantiated citizens who can withstand a pandemic having been fortified in earnest joy.
The year has burned away like a wildfire overtaking our spirits and days. We are heavily fatigued and utterly confused as to how 2020 was profitable. But what if 2020 gave us the hardest look into our “social dilemma?” What if 2020 told us how we would rally or react or persevere and prioritize if a THREAT came to our world? What if we listened and dared to redesign every engagement and every holiday until we rose above the manipulation and polarization to find ourselves eating pumpkin pie in April, traveling without leaving our homes, eating healthier at home cooking for ourselves, having more meaningful relationships, missing our parents while they are alive, being creative to say, “I love you, I’m thinking of you,” using Christmas lights whenever, practicing kindness to those isolated or less fortunate, understanding how we are the same more than different, protecting each other from all elements of weather and cruelty, and declaring ourselves only capable of part of truth but united powerfully identifying with the many truths of a human experience? What if we found the TRUTH about human connection that is threatening to be buried under the delusions of our rapid progress in a technologically driven world? What if we found the real virus and the real cure to what is killing humanity?
Then we would grow gardens, make shadow puppets, learn to slow dance, go for drives, be outdoors, go on long walks, eat slower, talk longer, find delight in little tasks that we do repetitively, cultivate a meditative core, read more classics, cultivate more talents born from boredom, have more pets, take on more long term projects that can improve our homes and our comforts, delay gratification while fortifying what is gratifying about life, and see the pandemic of 2020 as the best opportunity for a reset.
All tallied there can be something gratifying about 2020. It is cheap and simple and forever yielding. It is not “normalcy” as it is cultivated under social media but normalcy as it has always been true for humanity. WE are that something about 2020. WE are what remains when you strip away the fabric to find the humans still yearning for each other and fighting by patiently waiting for safe passage to reconvene, with less to take for granted. WE exist in a time of plenty and of possibilities to be helpful and caring and reach out in what means we can by the very social media that grew to nearly extinguish humanity’s best attributes of consciousness.
WE are grateful for a time of deep and collective reflection and the insight to see this year as a gift. 2020 has been a time of extreme potential masked as extreme taxation of nothing but a shallow façade. As the year closes, take this opportunity to recreate the best of our world and our existence. You will find 2020 was the best year of our re awakening in a stoicism that has propelled many to an enlightened happiness. We are once again salt of the Earth, spilled and, thus, sanctified.
“Everything from the little house was in the wagon except the beds and tables and chairs. They did not need to take these, because Pa could always make new ones.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie