Dagdha's Blog

Random Ruminations #3

Posted in Uncategorized by dagdha on July 11, 2012

Countless pieces of trivia, facts, and fabrications swim around my brain like a cracked-out jellyfish in a water park, so I’m not sure where I learned a lot of what I know. Or what I think I know. Or what I don’t know, for that matter. But somewhere I learned that Native Americans, or some of them anyway, believed that cameras were evil because they captured the soul. For some reason the Lakota warrior Crazy Horse comes to mind, but that might be just another jellyfish riding the current of a urine-filled river past obesity resistant inner-tubes. Whatever. Moving on.

Like much of their wisdom, this fear of cameras has become legitimate, despite seeming crazy a century or two ago. Cameras are now ubiquitous. They’re more common than herpes, hybrids, and those fucking family decals on the back of minivans. And despite the cleverest of tricks and disguises, as victims of ravenous paparazzi will attest, cameras are impossible to avoid. Most people aren’t hounded by photographers to same degree as Angelina Jolie, but there is nothing that prevents other people from stealing your image. I say “steal” because you don’t own pictures anyone else has taken if you are photographed in public. And if you upload any photos you do own, chances are the virtual landlord of whatever service you use in cyberspace will have rights to them as well.  Just ask Mark Zuckerberg and his team of lawyers.

This doesn’t even take into account the magic and curses wrought with the almighty god of visual media: Photoshop. Is there anything that can’t be done with this sweet suite of voodoo? Sure it’s great for removing red eye and adjusting white balance, but it’s probably also the single biggest contributor to eating disorders since Marylin Monroe and liposuction.

What’s really messed up, though, are the potential abuses of power by technology companies and the government. Passing over the implications of systems like CCTV in England, most cameras are now automatically linked to powerful networks via cell phones, which provide all sorts of interesting metadata along with the pictures and videos you record.

Think about it for half a minute, and you might start to agree with Crazy Horse…  Next topic!

There are two fundamental human desires I wish to discuss – the urge to be part of a group and the dichotomous desire to be unique.

One the one hand, humans are primates. We evolved as social creatures. We depend on one another for physical and emotional support. Solitary confinement, a punishment reserved for the worst criminals and considered by some as cruel and unusual, has shown us the consequences of depriving this fundamental need for social interaction, which can often lead to insanity. It doesn’t matter if someone is an introvert or extrovert. Biologically/neurologically we all need at least a minimal amount of belonging.

On  the other hand, much to the chagrin of teenager parents everywhere, we all have an innate drive to be different, to define ourselves as individuals, which can be extremely difficult when surrounded by mass  produced, mass marketed, mass media in a standardized society. I’m no psychologist, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to argue that the epidemic of depression (and subsequent obesity) is at least indirectly attributable to a sterile culture of corporate standardization. Sure there are more choices than ever before, but that only makes it even more difficult to focus on the things that make us truly unique, which is not our cellphones, shoes, or automobiles, despite what commercials tell you.

Obviously both categories will vary based on the individual (introvert v. extrovert), and they may not have equal pull, but a lack of either seems to create problems.

As a freak of nature with a functioning clone walking around, I learned the art of being different early on (you tend to learn this a bit faster when someone else has your face). I’m no snowflake, but I very rarely worry about being different these days.  My issues are on the other side of this proverbial coin, which really began after I moved back to my hometown a few years ago. This incestuous town of Tea Party Bible thumpers with no regard for education is  the last place I want to belong, so I largely keep to myself outside of a close knit group of friends. But it’s really starting to get to me, and I need to find a place where people actually discuss ideas, otherwise I’ll continue my downward spiral into a cynical abyss. But that’s my problem, and even a Google web crawler would fall asleep reading about it.

This post isn’t quite a thousand words, but I’m not sure what else to write about at the moment, so until next time, drink your Ovaltine!

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