Maybe it’s the time of year; it’s the start of December, gloomy and cold outside, the days are short and the nights are freezing, and for a lot of people the seasonal blues are kicking in. Or maybe it’s because 2015, more than any other year so far, has been a hotbed of sheer, mind numbing stupidity from all corners of the globe. Regardless of the reason, I’ve just been itching to get back on my keyboard and blurt out another meandering monologue to molest your minds with for a few days now, skewing the output rate of this blog massively given its relative inactivity over the past year. Okay past two years. Can’t believe I started this shit in second year…
But moving swiftly on, this particular post has been a long time in the making, with the need to write it rising exponentially along with the amount of internet bullshit that’s fuelling it. The bullshit in this instance is one that we’ve all perhaps been guilty of falling for, the picture liked, the inspirational quote shared, some of us may even have posters, those with even less judgment may have tattoos, but at some point or another we’ve almost inevitably fallen victim to some cod philosophy. Nicholas Rescher, who I’ve totally always known about and didn’t just stumble on while doing some wikipedia based research for this post, described pseudo-philosophy (the actual name for it) as:
…deliberations that masquerade as philosophical but are inept, incompetent, deficient in intellectual seriousness, and reflective of an insufficient commitment to the pursuit of truth.
I can’t think of a better way to describe the mountains upon valleys upon Everests upon Grand Canyons of bullshit images and shitty self help videos than that; vapid maxims laid over pictures of sunsets or trees or young hipster couples holding hands that seem to spring from sources unknown. Seriously, who on earth is making these? I want to know who has the time and effort to search through what appears to be some kind of sepia toned Getty images and then finds or comes up with some semi-deep bollocks to scribble over it.
But my issue isn’t with the pictures themselves, they don’t inherently have anything wrong with them, my issue is with the people who fill up my Facebook and instagram feed with this relentless onslaught of supposed inspiration, when in reality it’s nothing more than a spotlight on their own lack of independent thought and dependence on new age eulogising like wasted affirmation junkies. An argument can be made that it’s not just rubbish, rather genuine motivation, but I find that hard to believe when I’m confronted with shit like this:
Fig.1: Google image search result for “motivational quotes.”
Let’s break this down. We appear to have an instagram filtered picture of someone who is clearly drowning and asking someone to phone for help, overlaid with some text about how you need to change your life because apparently life has no remote control, and that’s now some mind blowing fucking revelation that could well have come straight from the pages of Dan Brown’s latest literary excretion. The insinuation seems to be that life is now the same as a television screen, an object that we stare at but don’t actively participate in. Does that mean that our lives too are just a series of flickering images that we can’t influence? Are we merely passive observers who can do no more than “change the channel” and then just observe a different scenario? Do we have any control at all over our day to day existence? The second you read one of these things properly the facade crumbles, turning from semi-profound sounding bollocks into actual and utter nonsensical bollocks.
This is what thinking has been boiled down to in 2015, soundbites and pictures of sunsets that we like and share because that’s all we fucking do these days, like and share, like and share, repeat ad infinitum. At least with a self help book you actually have to do some reading, as basic as it may be, but with this you merely accelerate the process by which bullshit is spread across the internet. Fair enough if the people sharing these things genuinely believe in them, but it’s a level of belief on par with unicorns and faeries, childish wishful thinking that doesn’t actually achieve anything other than temporary self delusion. Modern society is deluded enough as it is, the advent of social media and 24hr news still hasn’t completely removed our propensity as a species to be in some endless quest to supersede the noble Ostrich for number 1 in the “Sticking your head in the sand” rankings, because as much as we pretend to care (and sometimes genuinely do) we’d still much rather ignore what’s happening and wallow in our own crapulence.
But you know what I think all of this really is? It’s just a symptom, not the disease itself, like the haircut the symbolises the descent into fucboi territory, or the Starbuck’s calling card of basic bitches the world over. It’s a symptom of our society’s continued downward slide into wilful self-lobotomisation. We’re knowingly selling out on our own intelligence in favour of reality television, red top rags, glossy mags, manufactured music, mindless action cinema, best-selling railway station crime novels and political apathy. Think I’m wrong? Well too bad, because science backs me up: http://goo.gl/hkJhyy. There’s a link between buying into pictures like the one above and low intelligence, and if that doesn’t speak volumes about the state of our current culture then I don’t know what does. No wait, Donald Trump is being taken seriously as a political candidate, that says a lot too.
However it really shouldn’t be surprising, when we live in a world with anti-vaccination nut jobs, pro-lifers who murder doctors, gun nuts, xenophobes, conspiracy theorists, and a whole litany of astoundingly ignorant beliefs and schools of thought. Of course we’re going to nod along to shit like “We are at a crossroads of transformation and desire” (generated randomly here for those who are interested and perhaps want to bait out some of their simpler friends: http://sebpearce.com/bullshit/), or the guff spouted by hacks like Deepak Chopra and his ilk while we caress a mug of green tea that some bloke in Tesco said cured his cancer. It’s tragic but inevitable that this is what centuries of genuine, insightful philosophical thought by the likes of Plato, Socrates, Nietzsche, Freud, Swedenborg, Kant, Bentham, Mills, and hundreds of others has evolved into. We live in a quick fix society and it seems that’s the way everything is going, where the simple act of thinking has been reduced to a virtual sugar pill to keep us nice and docile as the world continues to spiral into chaos.
So as with the previous post, the conclusion of this one is largely the same, think for your fucking self. It’s easy to get swept up in having everything spoon fed to you by whatever gym “goals” page you follow on Facebook, but there is an unparalleled satisfaction in thinking through a problem yourself and coming up with an answer that may well sound similar to pseudo-philosophy, but at least originated from within. If we go back to Rescher’s definition, all we have to do is remove the bits about a lack of “intellectual seriousness” and “commitment to the pursuit of truth” to turn something into a genuine insight, and no amount of meaningless, feckless, hollow, sepia tinged, stock photo word art drivel, blathered by milquetoast morons just looking to garner likes for their 15 minutes of internet stardom will ever be the same.
xoxo, The “Read a goddamn book sometime” Indian.