Somehow I clicked on “blogsofnote.blogspot.com”. Let me just say that there are some nasty, quirky and creative blogs out there. Check it out. You can find a blog on almost anything.
For example hulaseventy.blogspot.com deals exclusively with random connections of a full-time mom and photographer based in Oregon. She’s been blogging since 2005 and she’s had 31,000 people check out her bio. There’s another woman who’d like to be a stripper but isn’t, and another who draws and posts weird cartoons of her day, and has 1228 regular followers. It’s a smorgasbord.
After a few days or so, this column will end up on a blog, too. Whatever you think of the column, it’s not written as a blog. I’d have to say that I’m not a blogger. For those of you who haven’t guessed by now, a blog is like a mental scrap-book, an Internet diary covering whatever interests you.
My column is just too long to be any good as a blog. And I don’t follow really blogs, either. I think it’s because I love reading too much, and it’s hard to read much on a computer screen. I figure on-screen reading tops out at about 150 words or so, and even that’s a strain. The best blogs mix photos, art and text together into an interesting pastiche on a topic.
My life seems to be taking on the same fragmented characteristics these days. There seems to be less time for long, concentrated work. Instead, there are more frequent interruptions. More small intrusions, more small tasks to be fit in along the way. Kids need help with homework. Phone calls need attention, e-mails need answering and so on. I read recently that only 3.5% of our work time is engaged in actual production. At that rate it’s amazing we get anything done at all. It’s as if we’re becoming more and more fractured.
I’ve noticed this shortening of attention span is a growing trend. We’ve even managed to divide our lives into distinct compartments. As kids we grow up in the suburbs where we hang out with lots of other kids just like us. Then we move to a university town, and hang out with lots of students like us. Then we move to the big city to kick-start our careers, gain experience with big-brand corporations and party like crazy until we meet the right significant other. Then we move back to the suburbs to raise our kids. Once our kids are safely away at college we sell our house in the suburbs for a big profit and we retire to quaint towns like St. Andrews. And finally, when our health begins to fail, we move as close as we can to the best health care services we can find.
You might call it the “periodic life”. And what is clear in this lifestyle is the lack of any geographic specificity—or any geographic loyalty. We’ve evolved a kind of a post-industrial nomadic lifestyle.
If our loyalties are not geographic or tied to the land, then to what or to whom are we connected? Increasingly, I think, our loyalties are aimed at ourselves—through self-expression and personal development. While our friends may still be important (that is, coworkers and people we went to school with), finding an audience is even more important. We need to be noticed.
The root causes for this self-direction are complicated. There’s a lot coming at us. On one hand we’re busier than ever, and our time is more fractured than ever, our attention spans shorter. On the other hand we’re more fixated our jobs, our careers and getting ahead. But is there something more we’re truly craving, and why?
In the simplest sense, we always crave what is already hardwired into our nature. And what is hardwired into our nature is to work with our minds and our hands in a meaningful way for our community.
So two things might be missing to cause the craving. One could be the lack of meaningful work. The other might be the lack of connection to community. So who or what has hijacked our work and our sense of community?
The sacredness of work and community are long gone. Taking their place is a corporate reality. And clearly, large corporations set their agendas around profits and investments, not people. In fact, reducing labour costs is a consistent feature of corporate planning. So an ongoing level of unemployment at, say 5 to 7% is seen as “acceptable”. Large corporations also beget smaller corporations, which are then tied to the same agenda, right down to the local owner-operators like truckers. And these small businesses at the bottom of the pyramid are the ones that have to take up the slack when big corporations make cuts. For this, the guys at the top get bonuses and golden parachutes, while the guys at the bottom apply for welfare.
This is the end result of handing over the business of “production” to corporations. Under the corporate model, everyone supplies a specialized piece of the work, but no one actually builds a whole product. And of course there’s a recent evolutionary history to this, from industrialist Henry Ford all the way to Henry Paulson the investment banker. The corporate modus operandi seems to be “give us the job and let us do the thinking.”
There’s obviously a great deal of cash involved in this process, too. I recently stumbled across a YouTube video on Ellen Brown a financial critic and lawyer who talks about the 300-year history of the big banks, especially the privately controlled Bank of England and the U.S. Federal Reserve. In each case, the Rothschild family figures large in a business that can literally print its own money and regularly “earn” 40% on its loan portfolios. Brown concludes, correctly, that citizens who don’t control their own money supply do not control their own destinies.
I find it interesting, with such powerful information on the Internet, that there is so little public outrage about the injustice and so much more interest in rather trivial self-gratification.
But then again, it’s not the information; it’s the medium. The Internet, like all corporatized networks, favours specialization of topics, fragmentation of thought and the elimination of spontaneous collective dissent. You could call it the “Babelizing” of the people.
So the only answer at the personal level is, of course, to just do your own thing. If your thing is cool you can blog about it. You might even get yourself noticed. As if it mattered…