HASHTAG

“Me? I couldn’t care less how other people choose to spend their time, so long as it’s not actively interfering with other people’s good works. You hear about this all the time, about how some faceless individuals on the Internet are making life difficult for so-and-so on some social network. The thing to remember is that those interactions are all playing out on a website. By and large the little cause-and-effect dramas that play out are entirely voluntary. Someone pointed me at this movement that started last year over some minor drama and supposedly exploded into this giant convoluted monstrous hate machine, and maybe for them it’s real, but that’s only because of how they structure their reality. I’ve always held the belief that our perception of reality is fluid and mutable. Try to think of it like this: your sphere of influence (which, bear in mind, is a two-way mechanism of equivalent bounds) floats around in the aether along with everyone else’s, like bubbles in space. Sometimes these bubbles intersect, and you get conflicts of interest, sharp agreement, and everything in between. And those intersections aren’t limited to just a one-on-one meeting of the minds. You can be overlapping with an infinite number of other realities all at once, depending on how you’ve positioned yourself. It’s like if you’re sitting at a table with three other people. One of them is a friend you’ve had for years, a person you know well enough to trust and you share a lot of the same ideas. Maybe your little bubbles intersect like, 75%. There’s a complete stranger at the end of the table, someone you’ve known for a minute, and so far the impression’s been bad and you’re just not sure about them. Your bubbles barely touch at all, perhaps not even one bit, and you’re only peripherally aware of each other. Then the last person knows this stranger even better than you know your friend, and is passingly familiar with you. Their bubbles almost completely overlap, while yours share just a narrow slice.

“Here’s the kicker, though: you’re free to move your little bubble any time you like. You’re under no obligation to share or lease any of your brainspace with anyone else’s. It’s entirely voluntary. You can be in close physical proximity to someone, and yet be wholly exclusive of their mental machinations. You want to try and tell me that a bunch of people playing mind games on some website are going to have any kind of impact on my reality whatsoever? Do you really think I have that little control over my sphere of influence? It’s patently ridiculous.

“And you want to know something really important about all of this? If there are these people engaged in the type of social warfare you describe, where the battleground is a communication-limited social network, I say good for them. Let the people who want to punch that particular tarbaby do so, let them get mired in it. If they’re getting something out of it, good. Perhaps there’s some lessons there to be learned, and they’re all just going to school. But the real importance of it is that those who are participating are spending their energy there, engaged in ultimately fruitless battle, spending their time and energy on insignificant, temporal communication instead of building things that might have a real impact on the culture at large. Oh, they’ll say that they’re changing the world, that what they do matters, but that’s only to stave off the despairing reality of the situation which is that they’re engaging in pointless diversion that’s no more impactful on the world at large or the future history of humankind than the sharing and dissemination of cat pictures.”

NOT ALONE, BUT ALONE

“… and then you realize that every single human being who’s survived long enough to form their own opinions on things is an incredibly, insanely complex individual filled with hopes, dreams, fears, loves, hates, desires, and despises just like you. And that at some point they’re going to shuffle off into whatever is or isn’t in the vast and dark plane of the afterlife, leaving you behind to wait your own turn, and wonder if you’ll ever meet them again.

“That’s perhaps why we marginalize so many of them. People, I mean. It’s the only way to keep our hearts from shattering into a million pieces on a moment-to-moment basis.”