Someday, it will be obvious that all the content on our information platforms converges on this theme: there is no important difference between fabrication and realityâ€¦Some people refuse to believe that reality has become indistinguishable from fabrication. But beliefs are crude reflections of the psychological processes that actually determine how we function. Fat people believe that they are on the stocky side. Abject drunks believe they are poetical free spirits. Malicious prudes believe they are selfless do-gooders. And a lot of people still believe that, with some obvious exceptions involving hoaxes and errors, we know whatâ€™s real and whatâ€™s not.
~Thomas de Zengotita, â€œThe Numbing of the American Mind-culture as anesthetic,â€ Harpers, April 2002, pp.33-40.
We are experiencing the erosion of credibility. We live in a world where things are nearly never what they seem. The result is a version of the â€œcry wolfâ€ scenario from the old fable. When things turn out to be other than what they seem often enough, then we begin to expect that things are not what they seemâ€¦ever. The jarring reality is that we are living in a culture that has made skeptics and cynics of us all. It is how we avoid feeling like credulous dupes when we actually accept as reality the mediated world (to borrow a term from de Zengotita) that we live in. Iâ€™m struggling with a question that I never imagined I would ask. Is it possible to be an informed voter? Or are we merely â€œmediatedâ€ voters, analyzed, objectified, idealized and curried for our favor? I fear it is the latter, and if so, I have begun to doubt the democratic processâ€”not the process, really, but what we have made of it. I have begun to question our ability to filter out the truth from the distilled information that is carefully dispensed to us amid the mind-numbing stream of sound and image.
De Zengotita titles his essay, The Numbing of the American Mind and then adds the thoughtful subtitle, â€˜Culture as anestheticâ€™ followed by a quote from Nietzsche: â€œâ€¦the massive influx of impressions is so great; surprising, barbaric, and violent things press so overpoweringlyâ€”â€˜balled up into hideous clumpsâ€™â€”in the youthful soul; that it can save itself only by taking recourse in premeditated stupidity.â€
I think there is another way. I think the follower of the Jesus Way has been offered asylum from the asylum, a place of peace between the worlds if he will choose to live there.
More about that soonâ€¦