Simplify Your Life

The Insubstantial Internet

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It is regrettable that the public-at-large has confused information with intelligence. From a very young age, we are inculcated with this belief that our opinion is inadequate and needs reforming, whether it is by the society’s hand, or our parents’, or an educational system, or a religious institution. Our own voice, our own intelligence site, which is formed upon the bedrock of common sense and critical thinking, our innate curiosity that leads us on to the path of trial-and-error, that keeps us in the beginner’s mind, is belittled and quashed by the hard اتم القراءة hand of the logical mind that likens the concept of education to systematic memorization that preserves the status quo instead of encouraging critical thinking that would challenge it, and thereby lead to a progressive evolution and advancement over time.  

In meditative silence, one may find one’s critical thinking ability to be far more profound, piercing, and perceptive, than the vast majority of content found on the Internet.  In is equally unfortunate that the people have been misled regarding the intention of the content they are consuming. It is a sad truth, but a truth nonetheless, that information, especially on a public forum like the Internet or television, has been used most unfortunately as a tool for the powerful to either misinform the public, or to overwhelm them with over-information, or, lastly, to entertain them into idleness, so that the public is none the wiser for it.  In many cases, the propagation of this information is almost explicitly a form of propaganda, bordering on the dogmatism found in fundamentalist religious belief systems. Its purpose is not to inform but rather to stir up and play upon our baser emotions of fear, resentment, greed, and worst of all, judgment.

Habitually, society has confused information is not intelligence, and the sheer quantity of information that the average person is bombarded with leads a person to become unable to form their own conclusions, rendering them incapable of mobilizing their critical thinking faculties used in forming their own opinions.  Is is any wonder then that the public needs to form their opinion based on talking heads, pundits, and 30-second sound bites from campaign commercials?

But it always takes two to dance.  There is a demand for others to think for them (as we have seen in the media), and to act for them (as we have seen in government), because the blunt truth is that, from the individual level to the collective, as a society, we have made the decision not to take full accountability and responsibility for our actions.  If we had done so, it would be inconceivable for us to resort to sensationalist news on the Internet as a source of truth to base our opinions upon. I further believe that if we continue to shirk our individual responsibility and duty to think for ourselves, and resort to blind belief instead, we are no better, except merely in degree, than various fundamentalists around the world.

If I am to think for myself, to come to my own conclusions, and thereupon, to act upon those conclusions, then I am responsible for the consequences of my actions.  It is possible that I may make a mistake and that I am afraid of the blame that may come upon myself from that mistake. If I am afraid of making a mistake, then does it not make sense for me to avoid thinking for myself, so I do not have to come to my own conclusions, and thereupon adopt as my own, another’s belief or an established belief system?  If things go wrong, it is not my fault, but the fault of the institution or individual that I believed in.

As a society, we are unwilling to make up our mind for ourselves, to stick our neck out if things go wrong – the desire to question, subsequently, seems to be in scarce supply.  Of those who have a desire to question, very few indeed have the courage to act upon it, and the more we as a society choose not to act, the more our society is moving towards a form of collective cowardice.  

The current President’s rhetoric, the intention behind his words, is encouraging his base to believe blindly in his promises.  So, his base is walking blind-folded, knowing not if they are heading toward firm ground or quicksand. And when many people come together, who are unwilling to take true accountability and responsibility for their beliefs and actions, and have a medium like the Internet to voice their opinions, we cannot expect real intelligence to emerge but rather a simple regurgitation of a belief system that someone else has promoted, which has been accepted and adopted as one’s own.  In many ways, the vast majority of people hardly have a mind of their own as they have found it easier to accept without question an existing, established belief system. The adoption of these beliefs penetrates so deep that the individual acts as if run by a software, a programmed automaton. This is the collective mind, if you will, that is at the very root of the Internet. We have, as a result, become a community of cowards.

Original thought, true intelligence, must by its nature require an innate simplicity and the courage to think for oneself.  The impetus for these words is to ignite a dormant spark of that intelligence that lies in all of us, that compels us with the desire to think for ourselves without fear of what others may want us to think.

I have always admired this desire for clear, intelligent, and fearless critical thinking in the Greek philosophers of antiquity, for their courage to think for themselves and their complete and brazen disregard for the established norms of the time.  It must have taken tremendous fearlessness to think so outside the communal box they lived in. Athens, in fact, was surrounded by warring nation-states. Its famous rival, Sparta, for instance, was an authoritarian regime, and its neighbors held varieties of the authoritarian system of government.  And yet, the Greek philosophers were, several centuries before Christ, able to ideate the foundations for a democratic society. A true wonder indeed this is – for there doesn’t seem to be any such historical precedent for this at the time.

We too, in today’s day and age, must learn to emulate the Greek philosophers.  We must learn to think for ourselves, to think fearlessly, in pursuit of the truth and precision, and exercise the true intelligence innate within us that can discern the material from the immaterial, the true from the not true, and we must, thereupon, have the courage to act upon our convictions.  Thomas Paine, perhaps, would call this ability Common Sense.

From the individual level to the collective, we must seek to think critically for ourselves and to come to our own conclusions rather than adopting a conveniently-packaged belief system that is promoted throughout society or published on the Internet.  For those who have not taken this practice to heart until now, in the self-utilization of our faculties, there will be mistakes along the way and it is certainly not pleasant to encounter them in practice. But like a muscle that strengthens with continued use, the skill of clear, intelligent, critical thinking becomes stronger the more we use our faculties.

It is, therefore, imperative, for us to take the effort, to engage in the enduring path of trial and error, to come up to a conclusion and to then develop a conviction with our own minds.  Furthermore, let us not consume information and mistake it for knowledge, but let us truly reflect on that information to discern with lucidity, whether something is material or immaterial, whether true or not true. When we can do this, the powerful elite can bombard us with mis-information and we are no longer slaves to it.  They can throw us entertainments to distract us and we will see the diversion clearly for what it is.  We will see it, as The Bard eloquently suggested in his melancholy play, as “sound and fury, but signifying nothing.”

In this regard, we must recognize that although the Internet has on one had become the synthesis for the mind of humankind, it has largely become a tool by the elite to spread mis-information and to keep us trapped in the consciousness of fear. We must see that the way this tool is being used is truly dangerous and that is being used with malicious intent against us.  However, I am not blaming the powerful elite for doing this. By refusing to think about and reflect upon things for ourselves, we are willing pawns in this game, and we have willfully dumbed down our intelligence.  We are, therefore, substantially more responsible for allowing the elite to keep us under control, and we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

The most poignant fact is this:  It is not truly the elite’s fault that they are viciously suppressing and misinforming the public; it is truly our own fault for allowing ourselves to be suppressed and misled. 

The ramifications of our actions are truly fundamental.  If we choose to have our voices subdued by others and become collective cowards, as we have today, to adopt as our own the opinions conveniently packaged for us by pundits and thinkers on the Internet, then we should not be surprised if we find ourselves living in a society that has an elite that takes advantage of our docility by creating a vastly unequal and unjust society.