The theme for this month’s blog posts has been WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) and I thought I’d end the month sharing what I’m seeing about the world around me, and us. I’ve recently started reading articles on Medium and the ones that seem to spring out at me are those that feed my inner conspiracy theorist. But I’ve also realised that the part of me that likes to see drama and secrecy is coming out of the closet and into the light.
I had thought that maybe I would start with the announcement I made to colleagues back at the beginning of the year that President Trump would be the last elected president of the United States. I don’t know why that seems real to me but it does. What I think about that statement is heavily influenced by what I see around me. And the what I see around me is in large part down to what I hear, I read and I see. I then filter all that input through a the values I have, the morals I subscribe to and the experience of my life to date.
But here’s the thing, when you really pay attention to WYSIWYG you begin to understand that none of it is real. And I’ve noticed that when i run my morals, values and experience of life to date through the inevitable reality check it becomes ever more apparent that what I hear, read and see is only true for a particular moment in time.
The reason none of this is real is because it is representative of the constant reinforcement we get because we have the same conversations with the same people, we watch the same news channels, we ‘like’ the same videos on YouTube or Facebook. And because we do all these things consistently, we are presented ever more of what we think we believe which keeps us in the same belief loop.
To step out of that loop I’ve had to turn off Facebook (again! I did it several years ago and was all the better for it); I’ve stopped watching the news and I’m trying really hard (honest I am …) not to jump into conversations with my assertion it’s all ‘bollocks’.
But I’m a human being fed into the same algorithm everyone else is stuffed into as well which means I cannot completely escape the things I’ve liked in the past, the articles I read on Medium and the topics I click on in the news feed in my work phone when I’m looking for distractions. To get away from it I’d need to completely disconnect and I genuinely don’t believe that’s a viable option.
So I choose to see that everything I think, feel and do is a product of whatever emotion I happen to have at the time. I also choose to recognise that the world I see, read about or hear of also isn’t real because unless I experience personally, it too is a product of someones filtered view of reality as they see it.
Sometimes it’s easier to explain what I mean by sharing a story and I have a couple that may make it easier to understand where I’m going with this.
The first story is of rampant consumerism that could be fueling an environmental crisis the world can’t step back from. I read the articles, I hear the news and see the updates online about plastic, fuels and pollutants. The part of me that believes it is horrified, the part of me that sees I’m being fed by the almighty algorithm takes a step back and instead watches how I live my own life. It sees that I buy things I don’t need, that much of what arrives in my household comes wrapped in plastic, it sees that I order online or drive to a supermarket instead of using my local stores.
The second story is of a pandemic, one that has effectively created a two tier society that is split by access to and work in technology. It’s mid-March and the UK is locked down. Millions move to furlough because their roles are in sectors that are effectively closed for business. I on the other hand work in the tech industry and life explodes – instead of working part-time I move to full-time temporarily to get companies, charities and organisations up to speed.
What I read and hear about in the news are the people taking trips to the beaches in Dorset and leaving behind mountains of litter and human waste. The underlying message is that they are feckless and irresponsible and it’s the rest of us picking up the pieces of a society going to hell. My personal experience is of people keen to learn, keen to work and keen to see what else is possible.
And when I see all these things taking place in my own life I have a sense of the truth of environmental issue and the social changes taking place and both force me to re-evaluate my actions and as a result I change.
Oh, and that statement about President Trump – that’s real – I really did say that (and here’s the thing, I do actually believe it too!)