Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Facebook: Building Schizophrenia

            We’re all writers in some respect, in the sense that we all have an internal dialogue.  What few people fail to recognize is that there is a fundamental dissonance between how we perceive ourselves and how other people do.  It is perhaps the ultimate dream of the wayward human to reconcile these two things – and also fundamentally impossible for all but the most discerning monkeys.  

            There comes a time when a person realizes that there is a significant divide between the opinions of their peers and one’s actual characteristics. In a way, it gives the opportunity to amplify ourselves in the manner we see fit (I am a caring person, I am a political person [in the eyes of others]).   

Humans always behave differently under observation.

            Careful Billy, if you hold your face in that place for too long, it will stay that way.

            We live in an era where we can make certain reconstructions of ourselves.  We are in concert with a second, or third, or infinite personalities.  Social media and the digital medium to which we are slowly uploading our personalities, is giving us carte blanche to reform (or destroy) our image; at first in the eyes of others, and over time in our own. 

To what degree does this digital representation conform to truth?  It conforms, specifically, to the degree that we determine.  In this way, our unexplored frontier, our Manifest Destiny, lies within.  What are the dimensions of our failings and virtues?  For how long can we conceal them before they are realized, digitized? Not long. 

            So we may actually come to terms with this schizophrenic manifestation of “me,” by becoming whichever version suits us best.  For that reason I have abandoned my social media profiles, having realized that, indeed, my own fear at the perception of others has diluted my sense of self.   It is not the mark of an extraordinary person to move according to the judgements of others.  Some are convicted to do so, but for me it is anathema.  I choose freedom to change organically, with the maximum facets and branches to move along, and without the slow, erosive touch of Facebook (or the inevitable spawn).

            Let’s slow down here.  Some might ask, “is everyone really that concerned with what other people think? I’m not. This article is bullshit.” It is cold comfort in the face of truth. 

Many evolutionary biologists propose we developed self-delusion in order to better deceive others. It requires a great deal of effort to convey a lie. You need to have all the right parameters: the issues involved in the lie cannot be in conflict, the story needs to be logical and believable, it needs to be conveyed in a way that doesn't reveal the intention to deceive.. The ability to lie didn’t’ begin with humans.  Many species use deception for evolutionary advantage.  Camouflage is a form of deception. Species of bird will place their eggs in the nest of other indigious birds to trick them into providing resources for their young. 

Primates, dolphins, and dogs regulary use deception to gain food over their competitors.

What this means is that the structure of our higher brain functions are not necessarily designed as a “(T)ruth detector” but rather a mode of efficacy-discovery.  Ultimately, our brains are designed to satisfy our evolutionary needs such as hunger, thirst, protection, and replication.  We can differentiate the “old brain” and the “new brain” quite simply:

The neocortex regulates many other functions, including how we percieve objects, understand language, make rational associations with our emotions, and other high-level brain processes; including decision-making, rational hierarchical logic, model-building, stimuli-organization and aggregation (and so forth)…

Whereas the thalamus (to an extent), the brain stem, the cerebellum, and our autonomic nervous system (to name only a few) are some of the older evolutionary hand-me-downs of brain development. 

So what we get is a sort of monstrous combination between the higher-order thinking of the neocortex and the lower-order thinking of the autonomic regions of the brain.  That is not to say these regions are not important, as regulating heart rate, metabolic function, hormone distribution, cellular reconstruction, and so forth are guided by these old brain mechanisms. 

            But now that we’re beginning to merge with intelligent processes such as social networks, the divide grows continually. These platforms are evolving in tandem with our “old brain” characteristics, which compel us to racism (out-group violence); exclusivity (in-group altruism); self-indulgence (seeking and dopamine); sexual gratification (genetic replication); and personal vanity (thalamus, reward, and low-level neocortical expressions), to name a few.

            What’s the solution??

            There’s a pervasive fear to criticize elements of human nature that are not desirable.  If asked, most people would be hesitant to decide whether removing a gene associated with rape or murder is ethical – and if they did – could they take it a step further and apply it to other non-desirable human characteristics like selfishness?  There have already been proven genetic links to altruism, and to such heinous acts as rape, murder, and indeed, general social deviance.  

            The solution is to abandon our unwillingness to change, and to recognize that we are not built in the image of God, but rather, that we should strive toward the idea. 

“Clarity of mind means clarity of passion, too; this is why a great and clear mind loves ardently and sees distinctly what it loves”

-Blaize Pascal

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

            -The Dalai Lama