As I sit for a bit of reflection, something becomes obvious. The theme of “the echo chamber” that I took on in the past couple of days is still right there, not even close to done.
As it is, what turned out to just be part one of the theme was barely a sampling, a quick sketch, of a large topic that can encompass a whole list of assorted topics, with most of those being interrelated and interacting to some degree. Part of the challenge and difficulty, and this is a huge issue, is simple length. I cut that one way down from where I started, and that was a little over 2000 words, equivalent to about four printed pages as formatted for print form in the word processor software. People start yapping about being “long winded”, even for something that short.
When “communication” and “information” have come to a state of things where random brain-twitch idiocy with a limit of 140 characters is considered a great advance in communication and information, I think it’s pretty reasonable to say we’re getting into problem territory.
A couple years ago, in the course of conversation in email, my correspondent had something to say about the matter of how much attention and verbiage I directed toward our situation regarding petroleum resources and use, past, present, and likely future. Let me be clear; the comment was not about that situation, but how much attention I gave to it. I remember something to the effect that what I wrote in this space online, or personal emails, was just too long-winded for people to absorb. To cut it short, because everybody wants it cut short, apparently, there was some suggestion about writing letters to the editor of periodicals, and that such notes should run to a length of a maximum of 250 words or so, otherwise it would lose people because it was just too long.
Here’s an indicator: I just checked, and the previous two paragraphs total 267 words.
On one hand, I took his point about being economical with words. On the other hand, the fact is that the subject involved there is just one of many subjects that simply can’t be covered in a tiny little burst of text. Trying can’t really do much more than reduce things down to bumper-sticker cliches and platitudes.
This kind of problem can also be found on display in what passes for discussion in comment boxes of text on Facebook pages, or reader comments following articles on web pages. The latter can be some of the most astonishing and grotesque displays of ignorance and raw idiocy ever. This kind of thing can be the worst kind of echo chamber feedback loop reinforcement, as people in these settings can often be firmly entrenched in all kinds of things they think they know, or notions of “principle” that can be warped nonsense.
In the last note, I wrote a bit about what might be useful to examine about the popularity of the TV sitcom fiction of the nineties show Home Improvement. Now, on a cable network that might be described as a real Home Improvement channel, you can find an array of shows that display some attitudes and presumptions that are pretty questionable. There’s a kind of repeating pattern that plays out, seemingly happening almost every time I sample a few minutes of the stuff, that it’s really striking.
Somebody will be wandering through a place in house shopping mode. They walk into what appears to be a perfectly functional and tidy kitchen, some place that might be regarded as amazing palatial luxury and wonder by 95% of the world’s population. The people involved will then launch into petulant whining about what they see, perhaps because of some “issue” like being revolted because the appliances are ten years old or more, not that they don’t work, but they’re not brand new, and the kitchen overall is just somehow stylistically icky. It’s just amazing. I can hardly believe these people are serious.
Pondering that got me back into thinking of the impressions of the fictional TV sitcom and general pysche of nineties America. I think most Americans tend to hold notions of the nineties being a fairly good time economically. In reality, it’s probably pretty fair to say that it was a time of the population of the country indulging in a general consensus of believing that we were much more wealthy than we really were. In retrospect now, all you have to be is simply awake to see that much of the “prosperity” of nineties America was really a phantasm of racking up more and more debt in all areas (both private and public “sectors”), escalation of more and more construction of suburban sprawl, and delusions that cheap petroleum and natural gas were infinite and endless.
Pretending that exponential economic growth was infinite and endless continued merrily along, proceeding right through the eighties and then through the nineties, and of course at the end of the nineties, under President Clinton, a group pf Republican senators put through the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933, happily signed by Clinton.
Everyone pretended the party of pretend growth would never end. Then it did. Here we are.
The whole pretend to be wealthier than we are thing caused big trouble beyond the games of debt and the financialization of everything. It’s been apparent for a long long time now that these games of pretense and greed have caused all kinds of damage, from people determined to at least seem to have “growth”, by simply doing all they can to short somebody else in everything possible in any way possible. The basic game, get all you can while paying as little as possible or nothing to anybody for anything. We’ve had lots of that, and things are falling apart and people are broke and struggling and things don’t work and are malfunctioning more and more. So, ask yourself how that principle of bottomless greed is working for us.
People belching out vague chatter and platitudes about “job creators” divert people from noticing something important. People actually creating jobs, as in paying people decent compensation for their work that allows them to have a decent life and be paying others for their work, and are doing business honestly, in trade of value for value, are often finding themselves struggling. The results are often tossing people aside, negating jobs, not “creating jobs”, as a repercussion of the kind of race to the bottom effect of what I’ve just described above, widespread ravaging of economic health everywhere by people in quests to gain as much as possible and pay anyone as little as possible for everything. The games of Wall Street in trying to get something for nothing, and get as much as possible, are having destructive effects much broader than many people seem understand.
It’s almost impossible to seriously discuss much of this with many Americans, who have had their heads filled so constantly and relentlessly with lying, confusion, and all manner of nonsense, repeated endlessly, that they can’t recognize reality right in front of them and have a single real thought of their own about what’s happening. What’s most outrageous and astonishing is that this is true, even when they’re absorbing nonsense that completely contradicts what’s happening in their own direct experience. As incredible as it is, it’s like a massive portion of the American citizenry right now would gladly eat shit, and pay a large price for it, because they’ve been convinced it’s a cookie.