Alternative realities

I think communication has been hacked…  

Not all communication of course, but masses of it, especially when it comes to what is actually happening in the world.  I’m not talking about Russian Facebook ads or the 2016 election hacking, I’m talking about the root of the tree of talking, which has been spliced to an outside source like you would hot-wire a car.  The lines have been splayed to an outside source and that source is pumping inaccuracies into our pipes like lead from the Detroit River.

Communication between two people involves taking a huge amount of real information, discarding massive amounts of it–like nearly all–while choosing words to represent that experience or sentiment or idea in as sparingly accurate a way as possible to faithfully represented all of the sensations, emotions and ultimately details the speaker experienced during the event that’s being discussed all the while taking great lengths to ensure that the words that he or she is choosing to condense this subjective experience can be understood and related to in a similar fashion by the person to whom they are speaking.  

That’s what we do.  We discard most of the detail, condense (compress) the information to be transmitted over words into as few but meaningful words as needed to guarantee that the receiver will be able to uncompress these few words into a mental image that is as true as possible to what we were trying to convey.  It’ll never be a perfect replica though.  It will never be 1:1 compression because in order for that to happen the listener would have to have experienced it themselves.  They would have had to been there.  They would have had to have experienced or seen or felt whatever it is you are trying to convey.  

In fact, the best that can be expected using our low-bandwidth communication which we call speaking, is some form of mutual understanding whereby the speaker and the listener have a common understanding of a broad framework of similar experiences, beliefs and ideas that they are able to utilize during this act of compressing and decompressing communication.  For example, the speaker uses the word “home” to describe where he currently is located.  This requires the listener to know what the speaker refers to as “home” and other details related to that particular word relative to the person who is speaking it.  My “home” is not your “home” is not my mom’s “home” which is certainly not the “home” of my boss.   

This is an important distinction because it also denote that successful communication requires context.  The words that are used not only need to have a commonality between those who are using them but a context also must be established to communicate between parties successfully.  

“Who’s house” are we talking about?  “My house?” “Your house?”  Without knowing the context I might end-up driving to New Orleans to my mom’s house.  This is not good.  Context is born out of a higher level understanding of what the exchange of ideas is related to.  It’s the twine tied-around a bundle twigs.  It’s the big M&M text on a bag of otherwise nondescript yellow packaging containing, small, round, hard somethings.   

So when I say that communication has been hacked, what exactly am I referring to?  In this hyper-partisan political environment we’ve retreated to our corners and tone-locked our phones and televisions in to the sources that we believe to be true and real and authentic.  The thing is, not everyone is doing their due diligence in checking their sources and what can start out as harmless omissions of small facts can quickly lead to omissions of whole news-stories and before you know it you’ve got a political spin-machine like Fox News as your main source of information.  

Now having a fave new source is not an issue in it of itself, but it quickly explodes into a massive issue when the other information sources you rely on are equally as omissive and misleading.  What’s happening is that these information sources, playing the role of the speaker, begin to reinforce a framework of words, ideas and shared experiences that slowly begin to replace those words, ideas and shared experiences that we might have used to communicate with someone who doesn’t share our same geo-political ideals.  We slowly burn the ideas we normally would have used to bridge different points of view simply by not allowing ourselves to share any common qualities, words or ideas with the listener to whom we are speaking.  And we’re doing this cyclically, drilling downwards until there are no bridges left.  

Once upon a time, those shared qualities humans shared were born of the expansive fictions that man has willed into being from the recesses of his creative ingenuity.  These are the stories we spun once-upon-a-time to bind us together–first in small tribes but later into villages and the towns and then states and countries, filled with Christians and Jews and Muslims and Capitalists and Communists and Socialists.  These explosive acts of creativity are what have allowed us to conquer the world and they are all based on the same low-bandwidth of human communication which continues to fuel the fiery imaginations of listeners the world over.  

But these sources that used to be our frameworks of shared understanding–our religions, our belief in America or Capitalism or liberal rights are what is being overwritten with data from our partisan information sources, slowly warping our worldview into something that is not universally shared by the members of our old framework.  The commonality of our frameworks are being zeroed-out and filled back in with specifically designed narratives, hellbent on leaving the humans of this country split into sub-groups of sub-groups to the point that there is no commonality left at all.  For all intents and purposes the partisan information that we are consuming in insanely high quantities is becoming our new framework of beliefs–our new religion–and it is easily becoming more powerful a framework than any of the traditional religions of God, country and economics because it actually encompasses all three, tied neatly in a bow and delivered directly to you wherever you are to devour and rewrite your commonality.  

Over time, the speakers and listeners in their opposing political tribes understand less and less of the other’s context until finally communication becomes nothing but noise.  There are no shared words or ideas or experiences.  The context surrounding the framework of the speaker is diametrically opposed to that of the listener.  There is zero commonality.  At that moment, the speaker and the listener live in alternative realities–their ability to relate and to communicate is gone and we are pwnd.  

Alternative Realities, Mamiya6MF, Kodak Tri-X at 1600, processed at the Icon.  

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