Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Seven thousand words in, and I realize that I'm overdoing this paper. I might get an A, but it's pointless. The marks don't indicate anything beyond "I was here."

And even then, what's the point of proving knowledge? Two steps away, there is a throng of people, hundreds easily. A good majority of them are arguing inane day-to-day facts, precipitated through a process of profound and enforced ignorance. It's dangerous to be too smart. It's dangerous to be even a little bit smart. But grab just a grain of truth, and tie it to an emotional message, and you have the kernel of a revolutionary idea.

This is a dangerous science, mostly because it doesn't follow the rules of causality. Imagine a scientist in a lab coat, trying very hard to catalyze a reaction. On one morning, his assembled experiment fizzles, and the outcome is failure. The next morning, his ingredients and his assemblage is exactly the same, but this time the experiment takes off, rapidly producing the desired outcome. According to science, there would be a so-called "hidden" or unaccounted-for variable that the scientist missed, and the race would be on for him to try and discover this hidden condition for the experiment to succeed. This is also the approach sociologists and communications experts attempt when dealing with the success or failure of media adoption.

But there's a secret. There is no variable. The scientist's experiment succeeded simply because it was done the next day, and not the first. But even then, the day on which it happened is irrelevant to the experiment - it cannot be accounted to produce the desired result consistently. So it goes with the masses; introduce the ingredients, and its entirely up to the environment to produce the desired results. There is no quantifying it, and it's completely arbitrary. Even a successful introduction, for example, the Kony 2012 campaign, is subject to the whim and conversional nature of the fickle public. It appeared the desired result was achieved, but once the communities got hold of the message, it was torn apart, reassembled, compared and ultimately discarded.

The message went viral, but strangely, the body of the public reacted to it. Became immune to it. This is a new trend, that highly-connected individuals work as mast cells, binding to ideas, comparing them - analyzing them, rather than just blindly passing them on. The results are still highly arbitrary, but this demonstrates a huge change in how viral media works. Now there are elements of fast-acting immunity: skepticism, critical analysis, and a desire to discuss rather than to enforce. The pushback against questioning adoption is huge. Our case with the Kony Campaign illustrated the vehemence with which people defended a campaign which they knew very little about. It was an emotional stake - people want to believe in something, to belong in something. Regardless of the reality imposed by a rational look at the situation, those who supported the Kony 2012 campaign created their own reality, which isn't all that surprising when you consider the lifestyles imposed on North Americans.

Our lives are rife with incongruities and double-standards. Moral and ethical ambiguity isn't just present, it permeates every level of society. We can never really be sure who we are, or that what we are doing is good. The toolkit we're given when we're young is composed largely of enforced indifference, of apathy. Given the chance to join, or create, a good cause, the average person won't balk, and they'll defend to the death the ideal they've created for his or herself.

There's just no reasonable way of predicting or anticipating when, where, or how people will adopt these ideals, en masse. And now, more than ever, we should be wary of this.