Monday, 28 December 2009

Like minded, same minded, tunnel minded and what kind of minds are we looking for anyways



I'm happy to report I'm not leaving SL or SL Social Media.

Mind you... I'm not going crazy with it either.

But I feel great after meeting some like-minded aviation friends at the aerodrome today, and by-golly it just might all work out for the best!

Aviatrix :: Zoe Connolly



I was very interested to read the above post on someone returning to Second Life after a few months away.

Firstly saying you are going away and then coming back is such a established pattern on the Internet I would be interested in looking in what it means. I have been seeing people "leave" only to come "back"  for about 20 years and would imagine walking out of the Internet or one of the Internet technological social spaces is as old as Usenets first days. It seems kind of like a child like behaviour. Taking your ball and leaving only to return later and have to say it was everyone else who changed. But we all kind of do it for a while. Perhaps in the overwhelming media saturation world of global technological Capitalism the only thing we truely own is our own attention. By pulling it away and then claiming we return on condition we are trying to give ourselves some value.

But what I find most interesting is the "like-minded" concept. What does it mean to be like minded? And given this new global media is the best we can do liked mindedness?

The Interent has made it that a large part of the English speaking world can form contacts with others anywhere in the world. The strange set of associations I have made in Second Life is the real reason I give to "coming back".

But this device for forming new radical connections between people is being mostly used to find people who already think as we do. Now since we can't read people's minds this is a bit difficult and falling outs happen as people who had imagined they were "like minded" learn they are not. But overtime the tendency has been the formation of tribes that share our values and ideas more and more perfectly.

This is the great threat the Interent posses to democracy. Democracy requires unlike-minded avatars come together and argue it out to some extent. The question of how much free market vs. state managed elements should take place in the economy is a continually debate in English speaking democratic process, with the end result always being a compromise between 60% free market 40% state managed to 70% free market to 30% state managed.

But more and more media today gives people a place they can run to and only face people who already agree. On the right and left blogs and social networks are forming stronger and stronger bonds between like people who are now enabled to ignore people who think differently.

The power to connect is also the power to elect not to connect. And more and more the Interent is a mass cluster of tribes of people who already agree. This has been noteworthy in the right wing response to the failure of the Bush administration.

For those who think I am being too negative I would point to the conservative movement of 1979 vs 2009. In 1979 Conservatives in the US and UK were presenting themselves as the saviours of problems developed during the 1970s. Agree with them or not they presented thought out arguements and they were able to present rational individuals to make cases on TV for deregulation and reduced government.

2009 sees a conservative movement that seems not even to think it needs to argue for itself. By entering a media echo chamber not only are the past 10 years forgotten an entire mythology is just created. Deregulation and tax cuts didn't work as predicted and many of the predications that those opposed to the Conservative movement made in 1979 have come to pass. 30 years of free market policy has lead to the largest financial collapse since 1929.

What is alarming is that the current faces of Conservatives in the US and UK don't even seem like they have to answer these issues. In the US they have retreated in to bizzared paranoid illusions and in the UK they have retreated to arrogant attacks: it is hard to find in either Cameron to Gleen Beck one rational argument which you could judge or even would make a policy.

The illusions are beyond just Sarah Palin. David Cameron in his parties conference also said the current economic problems are because of too much government. Such a statement is to simply ignore the established facts of the economy. The housing bubble in the United States was ultimately driven because people could do things to make themselves money and did, regardless of the impact and under regulated.

Now I am not saying this is just the Internet's fault. In fact the Internet is more of an effect of de-regulation than a cause and probably Gleen Beck and much of the neo-tribalism on the Internet are both products of changes in the way culture is owned which started in the late 1990s with the rise of something sociologists call "neo-liberalism" or worship of free markets.
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