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The Decline of Consciousness

  • There have never been so many studies on consciousness and yet i feel that, perhaps for the first time in their history, humans are becoming less conscious.
  • There is a vast program at work to trivialize and commercialize our conscious states.
  • The digital world as a whole (the Web and all the gadgets) is very introspective (it talks a lot about itself), but the individual user is less introspective than it used to be before s/he got connected by the digital world to millions of people.
  • The more one becomes part of a crowd, the less one reflects on her/his own actions. The more "messages" one writes to the world, the less aware one is of being read.
  • The more you talk the less you hear yourself.
  • In theory we never had so many opportunities to decide our lives, but in practice we surrender those decisions to society.
  • Society has become so efficient in providing protected neighborhood and safe routes for aging in good health and protected neighborhoods, in planning our education and career path, in codifying the rules of behavior in relationships, in framing the duties within a family, that the individual does not really need to consciously decide what to do.
  • There is an invisible oracle that tells us what to do in order to maximize our satisfaction, and even tells us what our satisfaction is supposed to be.
  • We are less conscious of why we live the lives that we live.
  • Ultimately, "society" is not so much a political or religious authority but a mix of marketing pressure and peer pressure.
  • Marketing pressure originates in the consumer economy, which in turn is a feedback loop between consumer and producer, whereas peer pressure is an even more complicated feedback loop that turns everybody into both a consumer and a producer.
  • Last but not least, we are the technology we use. The more powerful the technology the less conscious we need to be.
  • As we reduce culture and life to a process of distributed computing, and turn the largest repository of knowledge ever created (the Web) into a platform for advertising products, consciousness becomes redundant.
  • Digital technology seems to increasingly suppress personal identity: we are creating a society of high-tech zombies; a stone-age intellectual life armed with space-age tools.
  • A parallel phenomenon: we are becoming immune to (i.e. less shocked by) war news. Nobody really cares anymore if a US drone accidentally dismembers/kills 20 children somewhere in the world. There is a military industry that makes money out of our commoditized indifference towards collateral damage just like there is an advertising industry that makes money out of our commoditized (un)consciousness.
  • Your identity, dignity and privacy are the collateral damage of any business plan based on advertising revenues just like somebody's physical existence is the collateral damage of any business plan based on military revenues.
Proof-edited by Alexander Altaras