I feel a shift coming in the way that I’m processing the world.
I feel a shift to real spaces and moving away from digital spaces. Social media prevents us from seeing the whole picture, from having the whole conversation, from interacting with and caring about people with opinions different from our own. I don’t want to be blocked or cancelled or censored or labelled while trying to learn and grow and understand.
I feel a shift moving away from partisan politics where the left is always on the left and the right is always on the right and there’s no space in between for people to exist and grow, where learning happens all over the spectrum and we aren’t limited to learning from people in our own political ideologies.
I want to shift away from the vacuum of identical opinions and nodding heads, of carefully curated algorithms to keep me contained in my programmatically created box.
I feel a need to disconnect from online spaces and exist in real space with my people, make more real space friends, create more real change in more meaningful ways, grow more food, engage in real community.
I have never felt the need for this shift before. I have been a digital person for decades. This is my safe space. But it’s changed and I really do think it’s doing damage for me personally but also for the world. The meta-verse isn’t the answer, it’s an escape and an escape isn’t what we need when the world is burning.
There’s a deceptively simple yet pervasive expectation that all of us – everyone – could summarily arrive at the right version of things, the true story, outside of the blaringly misleading headlines, outside of misinformation campaigns, outside of unprocessed biases and legacies, outside of the manipulation of giant media and corporate algorithms. And that with a little prodding here and there, a little coaching and educational support (perhaps I underestimate how much prodding and coaching is often anticipated), we can climb out of the rapidly flowing murky and anfractuous river unto the banks of right thinking.
We can think straight – finally! – because we now read the rest of the story and not just the headlines; we can think straight because we now question our sources more frequently instead of jumping to conclusions; we can think straight because we understand our limitations and trust those who have done the research to speak.
The problem of course is that this expectation religiously presumes a rational infrastructure to behaviour, a hard steel floor of correct thinking beneath the shifty strata of cloudy half-processed dross. It presumes we, like snakes shedding worn-out skin, can remove ourselves – perhaps with great difficulty – from underneath the sedimentation that has kept us buried in heresy. And that by and by, we can think properly. It presumes we can leave the rapidly flowing muddy river for its sturdier banks. But this river has no banks, and there is no place to stand.
We are the river in its messy frothing flows. We are oriented bodies, swept away, driven, stirred, instigated, swayed, marked, moved, and moving, cultured, struck through, diagonal, contradictory, implicated, complicit, political, inchoate, exposed, shifting, migrant, and populated. And the feeling of security granted by presuppositions of rational and positivistic foundations is as a man who has tied himself to flotsam, hoping that the stuff is anchored to something that is ‘not river’. Something more dependable than this sullen tide.– Bayo Akomolafe