Archive for the ‘ Sociology ’ Category

People are Formed by Their Circumstances

This is as obvious as anything can be. Our bodies are the product of millions of years of evolution. And our minds are formed when we are small children – to be like the people we grew up with.

This growing up process does not create perfect copies – every person is different. But in America, in the 20th Century, there was a strong impulse to make everyone the same. That way, they could be more easily managed, or controlled.

The emphasis was on uniform progress. Making society into a vast machine – capable of turning out more machines. This was Middle-class, Midwestern America in the Fifties – that I grew up in – that manufactured most of the world’s industrial products.

But as adolescents in that economy (a period I can remember well) we knew it would not last. And we had to look for jobs elsewhere. And, sure enough, it did not last – and that vast area (most of the U.S) turned into the Rust Belt.

America lost it – and lost it big-time. The brilliant future Americans thought they had – turned into dust.

If Americans had been smart – they would have learned from this, and corrected their mistakes. But they were not smart. They had the mind of a machine – and machines that were not very smart.


But technology moved on – and produced a smart machine – the Computer. How would Americans use this? Poorly. They still had the mind of an industrial machine – and could not understand this new one. Human cultures can only change slowly – but technology can change rapidly.

This, I believe, is the best way to understand today’s world – that is composed of people formed by the Industrial Revolution (the 16th – 19th Centuries) that are living in a world controlled by the Computer – in the 21st Century.

A world they cannot, and do not want – to understand. The world that elected Trump.


However, this is the 90 percent – the 10 percent (that I belong to) are having no problem with this – and indeed, are welcoming, and enjoying it. We have access to many learning opportunities.

This is the gap that now distinguishes today’s world – people who are still living in a Industrial World – and people who are living in the Post-Industrial World (the Computer world).

The Network

The Network has changed who we are, with unbelievable speed and thoroughness. The basic technology here was Electricity (the Telegraph) updated with Electronics (Television) and then with the Computer (the Internet). We cannot remember what we were like before this vast change – before the middle of the 19th Century.

The last technological leap before this was the Printing Press – that was also concerned with the spread of Information – in the form of text – the same thing you are looking at now, on your computer. This was made possible by writing, thousands of years before that. I could go on and on – but you get the general idea.

We have changed so much – we no longer want to know what we have become. We are thrilled by it, and horrified by it – at the same time. It is my intention to shed some light on this change, and what we have become. Entirely different beings, never seen before.

The big break came with Television, in the Fifties. It took over our lives, completely – without our offering a shred of resistance. This set the basic pattern – we wanted to be overcome by the latest forces – whatever they were. This was basically a religious impulse – we wanted to be ruled by a divine force – and the Network (as part of the Market) – was just such a force.

It was more complicated than this – but this was the general outline, and we need to keep it in mind. No easy task, believe me – because we do not want to know what has happened to us, what we have become.

Our world, and our technology – has become very complicated. I cannot begin to understand it – but at least I know that – I cannot understand it.

And this gives me a big advantage.

Facebook and Twitter ‘Harm Young People’s Mental Health’

Slashdot

Being a blogger is easy – all you have to do is judge between all the input that crowds into your inbox. And the choice here was easy. I have been thinking the same thing – and was happy to find some company.

Click on the link to the Guardian at the top, to read the whole article. This concerns the effects on British youth – but the companies mentioned are all American.

The Brits have been impacted by Americanism – and they are not sure they like it.

Software Runs the World

It has taken me quite awhile to realize this – and I can still hardly believe it. If most people are asked what runs the world, they will say “We do!” When they have no idea what they are saying. Who are the referring to?

They are referring to the people formed by mass communications, predominantly Television. Everyone is watching them. And their TVs have taken control of their minds.

Except Television has been updated by the Computer, and its networks – the Internet and the Phone. The Computer did not replace the TV. In people’s minds it is the same thing – but somehow better. And they identify with it – not having the slightest idea of how it works.

They think they are in control (because they can choose which channel (or screen) to watch) – when they are only passive watchers. Or Consumers – they can choose what they buy. And this makes them feel all-powerful.


So much for the introduction that sets the scene for what I am going to say. But I started to talk about Software – what about that?

Software is that invisible stuff that runs computers. It’s simple – do this, and then this, and so on. Plus some control statements, such as run this, this many times. Plus many, many libraries of functions that the software can call. This is where the power of software resides – in all the clever tricks that have been invented – that make the computer look human. When it is nothing but a robot.

Most people know nothing of this – but businesses have been fast to catch on. The Computer has made them more powerful – much more powerful. And indeed, has created a global economy – run by Software!

Everyone is being told “Look at this, or look at that!” But not to look at what is running everything – Software. The invisible controller, that is running everything.

This is even true of the many businesses I worked for in my twenty years (1980-2000), in California, in what thought of itself as the Computer Industry. They did not understand Software either! And did not want to understand it – because it was putting them out of business!

Consider the difference between the computer of the Nineties – a huge box where you had to buy additional hardware to plug into it – to make it do anything useful. To today’s laptop computer – where everything is built in.

The users of these computers are not smarter – but stupider. Because the Computer is doing so much for them. Its brain (its software) is taking the place of the user’s brains.

I am not saying anything new here – only repeating what many other people have said – the Computer is replacing people in many jobs. And the jobs that are left, require Software skills.

These skills are not hard to acquire – there is a whole industry devoted to teaching these skills, to almost anyone who can use a keyboard and a mouse. But how few are taking advantage of this learning opportunity! They do not want to learn – they only want to grab whatever is out there.

The difference in attitude here is profound! And nearly impossible to explain. Either you have the ability to see what is – or you don’t.

And most do not.

The Drive to be Wonderful

Google I/O 2016

This must be built into human nature – we are not just social animals, there are plenty of those – we are social animals with an elaborate, flexible hierarchy. Where the tokens that express one’s standing in the hierarchy are constantly being revised.

This means many people are being rendered obsolete – right now. They have responded by trying to stop the clock – an impossible task, that only makes the situation worse.

The link is to a Google event showing how wonderful Google is! The money spent on it must have been colossal – but that is just the point – Google’s money shows how wonderful it is. Microsoft could do this a few years ago – but only Google can do this now.

They can do this because they make all those people with their Android phones feel wonderful. This is Google’s overall goal – to help people as much as it can!

But this also makes them dependent on their phone – and indirectly, on Google!

I’m dependent on Google – I might as well admit that. I am using their Chrome browser right now – and YouTube also.

I have also noticed the fast pace of change in Software Development – it reminds me of the Red Queen’s remark in Alice in Wonderland “In this world, you have to run fast, just to stay in the same place!”

There are people who can do this, and they spend most of their time doing this – keeping ahead of the rest of us.  As shown in this link. He is telling other developers to concentrate on staying up to date with Google.

This will make them wonderful – or dead from trying too hard.

The Power of Being Nothing

This power is being exercised by nearly everyone in the world. They are having a wonderful time being nothing, and destroying everything!

Logically, this makes no sense – how can anyone not be? But logic does not apply here. These people have decided to not be – and anyone can see, plainly enough – that they have succeeded completely!

One can ask “Can they go on destroying the world forever?” Obviously not. The world’s resources are limited – and they are running thin already. In one or two hundred years – the human population boom will be over. There will still be plenty of cockroaches, but not so many of us!

If we were smart – we would see this coming, and plan an orderly transition. Although how we would get rid of most of the world’s population, would be a challenge.

The rise in the level of the oceans will take care of many of them – the shortage of food, the rest.

Empathy and Redemption

Open Democracy

This article is about pain – socially-induced pain, the most common kind – and how it can mess up the brain. When that is messed up, the rest of you is messed up as well – completely messed up.

To put this another way – punishment is not the answer. We can keep making jails until hell freezes over – without fixing anything.