A couple of months ago I posted a link here to author Douglas Copeland's wonderful article, A Radical Pessimist's Guide to the Next Ten Years. For refreshment's sake, here it is again:
Okay, so this has been a pretty important document to me. Maybe part of that is because I myself am somewhat of a Pessimist. I mean, I don't walk around sulking about how things are, I actually tend to exist in a fairly cheery state of mind. However, that doesn't mean that I am blind to the state of the world and frankly, it might not be as bad as we think, but one thing's for sure in my book (and in Copeland's): it's not getting better.
Anyway, in reading through Mr. Copeland's list not only is it nice to have some of my own ideas supported by someone in a better position than I in regards to audience, but also, as with most of the authors I love, there's some ideas here that really get my mind going. And today I wanted to talk about one of those, specifically.
Respectfully quoted from Mr. Copeland's article:
"16) “You” will be turning into a cloud of data that circles the planet like a thin gauze
While it’s already hard enough to tell how others perceive us physically, your global, phantom, information-self will prove equally vexing to you: your shopping trends, blog residues, CCTV appearances – it all works in tandem to create a virtual being that you may neither like nor recognize."
I like this idea. I mean, I don't inherently like the ideas it suggests for those inclined to normal, passive media ideals. What I like is the way this suggests a new... avenue for the Will of the person in question.
Think about it.
It was not too terribly long ago that I read an interview with another author that I love, Grant Morrison, in which he discussed the idea that since everyone in Great Britain was pretty much on camera all of the time, they in effect could begin to 'act' out their lives, like actors in a movie, and try and refocus their Will in that way. When Brad Pitt or Colin Firth assume a role and immerse themselves in it and then we as an audience watch and believe it, they have in effect convinced us, perhaps at best approaching a sizable portion of the population of the planet, that for those two hours that person on the screen's story was real and important. The best films have impact on our lives. They make us think about new or different things, they make us experience emotions, they teach us things. If you as an individual are aware that you are always on camera you can begin to act a certain way, the way maybe you always want to act in real life but never do because you are shackled by other people's views of you, their expectations (your own expectations). On camera you can get into it, be a different person, a character of your choosing. Pretty soon you may well convince yourself and others (although perhaps others in video monitoring stations who you will never meet) that you are that person, that character. Fake it til you make it? Maybe, but the technology is there...
And that brings us back to Mr. Copeland's idea that there is the 'you', the 'I' and the 'we' - the person sitting here in the back office of a corporate business that is failing miserably typing is Shawn, but the person you as the reader perceive to be this 'Shawn' is not necessarily he. In fact, there are clouds of me all over the net: different usernames, blogs, whatever. They are all manifestations of me and yet also not me at all. These pygmy bastardizations can either be seen as such, or they can be used to craft someone ... else.