INTRODUCTION TO “MONTH 11”
July 25, 2021
In January 2021, 11 months after the pandemic started, I briefly wrote Facebook posts, a series I called “Creator’s Diary”.
It ended after 4 entries, and I never posted them to this blog.
But in particular because of the last entry, I can now see they are part of my Covid Diaries.
And that the reason they stopped, was most likely because I felt that disconnect with the world again.
The feeling that I was unsure for whom I was writing, how to view the world, or my own existence.
“Month 11”, counting in months, is something that was used in “A Quiet Place” to indicate how much time had past since the monsters appeared and took over the earth.
I gladly borrow the time signature, partially for dramatic effect, but I am grateful we’re not facing the monsters they do!
Although references to a world ruled by monsters were made.
This is what the posts said:
To support my project of writing a diary as if I m living in 1996, I m reading a book about sensible/ functional use of social media.
“Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport
Just like other forms of minimalism, it’s about recalibrating your life so that what you spend your time AND undivided attention on, reflects your values.
Although I m definitely not a purist in implementing this book, I highly recommend reading it.
The vibe of it has already freed up so much time usually spent on social media/ email/ scrolling;
The book has created its own time to read it!
HOW ONLINE (YOUTH) CULTURE BEGAN
A topic I m currently investigating, is how our minds got hacked by online media.
And how to get them back.
We are currently losing time, daily, checking our likes, reading new shiny things.
By now, it’s just not social media:
All sites have been engineered to reward staying and reading more.
Where we put our awareness and our time seldom reflects our values.
The things we really find important.
The things we would really like to spend our leisure time on.
Many of us do not even have leisure time/offline time anymore;
We are always behind on what we want to do, what we want to achieve, and when we do fun things we want to document them.
As if they do not exist unless we make it public.
Today I discussed this with a friend, and he pointed out that at the turn of the century, the youth in Finland were already communicating with each other in SMS “bubbles”.
They had a culture where they “hung out” on SMS, and then met each other in real life/ a certain place in the city.
The youth of Finland was the iGen generation (born after 1995) avant la lettre.
Before any other culture, they lived in an online community with its own rules, its own risks of being thrown out or excluded.
A culture not understood by their parents.
When I got home I investigated this culture further and it brought me to the history of texting.
It is very ironic that texting was seen as a way to communicate, to not bother other people.
A call was intrusive, especially at out of office hours.
But by texting two people could communicate with each other at different times.
“I didn’t see your message.”
“I only just read your message.”
Were perfectly viable explanations.
Aside from maybe the Finnish youth, immediate answers were never expected.
Let alone residing next to your phone, and being addicted to your notifications as we are today.
Twenty years after the avant-la-lettre iGen generation in Finland, most of us are acting as if we are in such a highly-pressured peer group as 15-25 years olds usually are.
(And always have been)
There are few fixed rules, and in order to be a part of such a group, you need to be constantly tuned in and watch group dynamics like a hawk.
In the book I m reading, Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport, he gives a number about which percentage of the mental brain-width goes to social interactions.
I think it was somewhere along the lines of 80%
And that was not counting SMS and online culture, I think this percentage might even come straight from the chimpanzees.
I think in the upcoming decade, we’re going to see an enormous shift in our presence on internet.
That just like with smoking that went from something everybody did everywhere, and was marginalized, using your smartphone will no longer be normal, but become functional again.
And this will happen within a decade.
I found many studies about the negative effect of online culture, both in Finland as well as globally namely on generation iGen (born after 1995)
But although a youth that was (in my opinion) unprepared and not properly guided in the exposure their phones would cause, is no doubt the saddest of all effects;
I think we only have to look at our own lives, and if we’re born before 1985 we very well remember it without technology;
If we look at that, we can see what we’ve lost.
And maybe it is our responsibility to do our part, and bring offline culture back.
So that at least the youth has a choice, where they want to live.
A few minutes ago, the Netherlands got their first Covid curfew, which will last two weeks minimum.
I ve just deleted an entire paragraph about how long I think this is going to take.
Or why Covid has been very unfair to everybody under 25.
And just like climate change, no more houses being available and phone and media addictions that are altering their brains and creating anxiety, we were unable to stop it from happening.
We have not protected our youngest generation the way I think we all wished we had, or maybe a better way of saying it is that we are not giving them the world we wanted them to have.
The following is not addressed to those under 25, but those older and in particular those born before 1985:
Being addicted to refreshing your newsfeed, checking your mail, your likes and so on, is addictive behavior that means you do not FEEL what reality is.
It’s like the movie Ready Player One where the reality is so bad, people are in the virtual reality, The Oasis, as much as they can
Even at the end of the movie, when the government becomes more humane, they close the Oasis for one day a week.
But they keep using it as an escape for 6.
In in another movie The Matrix, something similar happens when the human bodies are used as batteries, and their minds are entertained in The Matrix.
If in this virtual reality The Matrix, you meet someone from the resistance you can choose between The Red Pill, which will awaken you, or The Blue Pill, which will leave you in your state of blissful ignorance.
Few want the red pill.
Many choose ignorance.
I feel that because my generation and the ones before have failed to create a sustainable future, a sustainable now, AND we have raised an entire generation addicted to The Oasis, asleep in the Matrix,
the least we should be able to do, is to be present and aware in the world we created.
Offline and online.
CURFEW NIGHT 1
final diary entry
Last night Covid curfew started in The Netherlands, and it was dead quiet.
I was in bed at least an hour earlier than usual, and it was after having this eerie desolate feeling for hours already.
As if, especially for a Saturday night, something was very very wrong.
And most will agree it was:
Whether you’re mourning the Covid tragedy or the loss of freedom, I think few will disagree that in a country with a curfew something is seriously wrong.
Going to bed in a silence that could have meant I was the only living creature within miles, I wondered;
“How many people will love this silence so much, this measure wins by popular demand? ”
And when I woke up, as if I had spent money on a holiday in the mountains that serene, that sensation was even stronger.
We have to be weary to not get used to this.
It was dark.
Since the sun doesn’t get up before 8.15 or something that didn’t mean much so I checked and to my surprise it was already 7.30.
If the clock had said 4 I would have believed it, because it was so quiet.
I went about my day.
At 10 AM I had to leave, and by this time, it was still so quiet I got an I Am Legend like feeling.
From the movie where Will Smith plays the only survivor, in a world taken over by zombies and wildlife.
Since I had not checked any news, could I even be SURE the rest of the world had not been (quietly) eaten by zombies?
So I checked.
According to our news sites, the world was not overtaken by zombies.
The silence really was the silence of curfew and a country that didn’t have a good reason to get out of bed.
Today there were Covid protests, and they got out of hand.
For the first time since, I don’t know, the eighties? , there were/are riots, clashes with the police, property destroyed.
Turns out what I was hearing last night was the quiet before the storm.
An unexamined life is not worth living
is part of The Covid Diaries