As a futurist, I think of both the positive and negative aspects of the technological culture we’re creating. And I see something that might relate to certain discussions of late.
Fandom has a disproportionate number of people who came from abusive backgrounds, are brilliant, but stunted emotionally. Does it take much to suspect they simply “clumped” all their mentation into one category, where they could get approval without being emotionally vulnerable?
Interesting that there are people who have no empathy with others, and others who cannot grasp that their personal view of reality or experience of events is not universal. The “One soul looking out through many eyes” doesn’t mean that the other person is identical to you. You can have a zillion containers holding water-based fluid, with no two of them having the same composition, shape, or temperature. Infinite variety. Humans have the same basic motivations: avoiding pain and gaining pleasure. They have the same basic emotions: fear, anger, love. The same basic fears: falling, loud noises. Hunger and discomfort.
A few other things that seem universal, with everything else learned along the way. Basic animal drives of personal and genetic survival.
What is the genetic component of what we are? What is the environmental? Make no mistake: this stuff has been debated for thousands of years.
I remember a guy “Chuck” who couldn’t separate his personal feelings about a movie (“it’s good. It’s bad”) from a general objective sense of what it was. In other words, if he didn’t like it, he couldn’t believe anyone else did. If he loved it, why, others must too, and if they said otherwise, they must be paid off by a studio.
Chuck had trouble understanding women. His miscues were legendary. I noticed that he assumed that they would enjoy the same interactions, at the same pace, in the same ways, as he. A little grabby he was, because HE enjoyed being grabbed.
He didn’t understand because he didn’t ask. He assumed. And when he was proved wrong, he assumed there was some conspiracy to confuse him, or that they were nutty.
Needless to say, he was confused, lonely, and what we would now call a little “Aspy.” He just didn’t get it. His “theory of mind” was skewed. What are the extremes?
- People with NO empathy. Others are totally different from them.
- People with TOO MUCH empathy. Others are the same as them. There are a number of pathologies here.
I have a suspicion that we’re breeding more and more people disconnected from their balanced emotional empathy. Why? I’d say it is the degree to which modern people don’t have to interact with the physical world, with other real live physical human beings the way our grandparents did. This is just a hunch. Some things I think are growing problematic:
- A disconnect between the effort needed to earn a calorie and the number of calories available. Danger: obesity.
- Communication via chat. Danger: losing the ability to interpret facial expressions, vocal tonalities. Miscommunications due to loss of those vital channels.
- Seeing the world as “flat” rather than three dimensional. Reading and staring at screens.
- Seeing the time-flow as malleable because of freeze-frame and rewind. A different quality of attention is created, one that works great in an artificial environment…but not so great in the “real” world.
- Confusion of mating cues. “People” who seem real (but flat) acting according to the strings manipulated by writers and directors rather than real human emotions. We absorb those lessons. Then when “real” people don’t react that way, we get confused and resentful. “Incels” anyone?
- The danger is developing a twisted “theory of mind”, not being able to understand other human beings. Or even our own interactions with the real world. We don’t know why we can’t leverage our intellects and emotions to hunt and gather (earn), can’t connect with a mate (sex), can’t understand why our bodies bloat. OUR CONNECTIONS ARE BROKEN.
Without the feedback of the real world, actually barking our shins on reality. Both romance novels and porn set up unrealistic expectations. Video games shelter us from the pain of actually learning physical skills. We develop flash-friendships, anonymous internet groups to play with, and while they are fun, they aren’t real. Those people don’t care about you. If they heard you got run over by a cement truck they’d say the current equivalent of “gnarly!” and play on.
I saw this with the first generation of computer programmers, with people who buried themselves in fantasy books, with people addicted to video games, and FB and work in offices and never get outside.
Lack of connection with the natural world, with other human beings…and perhaps with themselves. This is why meditating, contemplation, connecting with nature, and physical exercise are so important. You can hallucinate all you want about your body, but a mile doesn’t care. You either walk/run it, or you don’t.
You can’t “level up” by buying virtual coins. You have to actually do the work, push through the pain and fear, learn to overcome “sensory motor amnesia” and learn how your body works.
“Exercise is BORING.” Yeah, because you’ve never engaged your mind and emotions. Like your ancestors had to, OR DIE. “I don’t understand men/women.” Yeah, because you have surrounded yourself with fantasies about what they’re like, and when they don’t match your expectations, you blame THEM, not your fantasies.
I could be wrong about this, but its what I see. The answer?
- Connect with your own heart. The most basic piece of emotional reality we have is our own hearts. I think that if you don’t understand others…you don’t really understand yourself.
- Connect with your body. Exercise. Move. Your body evolved to hunt, gather, evade predators. Society evolved to express that with games and mating rituals (dance). Re-connect there.
Just these: opening the heart, awakening the body, will anchor you to the world. The opposite? “Awakening your kundalini backwards”. Smart, but body and heart “stupid”. It isn’t your fault: humanity has won a battle with the natural world. Don’t be road kill.