evolution


Me 2.0: Count your followers...

Me 2.0: Count your followers...

Social media? Web 2.0? This idea that the web will facilitate communications. Allowing us to share information. Make new connections to each other. Yeah… right…

It started off so well. Finding new ways to connect via the web. Brilliant. Facebook allowed me to stay connected to my friends all over the world. To be connected to them in new and wonderful ways. Have fun via virtual touching. I could even follow their thinking and random ideas on Twitter. I can tell them what I like on Digg. And I can blog to just dump my thoughts and emotions in written space. It was good. Really good. Being connected. Being part of each other.

But it also bugged me a bit…

A few things have developed that makes me think we are moving Web 2.0 to Me 2.0. The Me of self. But only “better”. Being obsessed with ourselves. The individual over the group. The god complex coming out to play in virtual space.

I just see too many people disconnected from all of this. Especially my people from Africa. That’s not new. That’s all “fine”. It’s not as if they were connected before. But what happens now is that those voices are not even drowned out anymore. They are just not present. Because they are not connected to the others who have and who are connected. You live in a shack in the DRC? Tough luck buddy – no squatting in virtual space for you. Kid working the farm in Brazil? Sorry, no ideas for you to plant in our little space my friend. Sweating in the shops in Vietnam? No place for you to raise your fist in anger over here.

Oh get off it. I know the stories they tell can be found somewhere on the web. Mostly through the eyes of some do-gooder who are connected. But the problem actually goes deeper than that. It’s not just about them not being here or them being represented by other voices.

The places where we go – Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Whatever.com, Myopinion.net, Idogood.org – we filter our interactions. We filter it to the bare minimum of our thoughts. The bare minimum of our interactions with the world. We can carve it nicely into little blocks of interactions for every part of our ego. An application for every self-interest. A site for every self-absorbed soul. Your life and meaning in a 140 characters. If you sweat in the factory or you work on the farm or live in the shack – sorry, you take too much space and I only have 140 characters for you. No character, only characters.

And so we filter away to basic interactions. Random thoughts in 140 characters. Fun interactions with friends and followers. A Digg at the other side. And the “people” who make us are left behind somewhere in between the tweets of virtual space. We update our status and forget who defines us. I am because we are.

I am because we are…

It remains true to Web 2.0. It becomes Me 2.0. We becomes me.

We define the “we” as those who can tweet and follow, update statuses and poke us, Digg us a story of fake depth – those who are connected. The new “we”. The real we being replaced by the virtual we. The faces of the masses drowned out by the faceless numbers on the net.

We started off with good intentions. We paved the road to hell ourselves. This new we that we live with. A virtual space made for our ego to be seduced to me-me-me.

I could still live with the potential of all of this. Because we could use this to spread our words. Be the voices of the voiceless and hope someone will listen when we shout into the dark virtual world of Web 2.0. Maybe find an audience and some new ubuntu friends to tackle the problems in the world. Random friends become us. Ubuntu grows to be more people defined by us.

But it didn’t stay that way…

We’ve always had the narcissist hanging around the net. That’s just fine. But what worries me is people turning into narcissists without even knowing. Without even realizing they are selling their souls for a tweet. Without knowing they are feeding the ego through an update of self. Becoming so obsessed with number crunching their followers. Turning into me-me-me. And that’s what worries me. People changing. And taking control without knowing their impact because they don’t see the mirror anymore.

Good people are turning into self absorbed ego-driven maniacs without even knowing what they have become. Because Web 2.0 has become the drug for the ego. Like a true ego addict they don’t even know they are addicted to the self.

Now we have these others taking over and infesting others with their neo-narcissism. The “me” crowd. It’s all about look how big my following is. Look at what I have done. Self promotion through the web. Decent people are being seduced by this idea that they are the centre of the virtual universe. I just published a book. Look everybody! It’s me! I just got a great idea. Look everybody! It’s me! Me-me-me. Goddam bloody me. People are becoming self absorbed by their own cuteness and their own sharp idea and their own bloody ego. And most of the time they don’t even realize it because this Me 2.0 is like a cancer that slowly eats up the real you and it turns you into something you don’t even see. It’s inside and you can’t see it. And you don’t feel it or hear it. But it is written in between your keyboard hits.

Web 2.0. It was a great development. Getting us connected in new and innovative ways. But it has changed the me into Me 2.0. Where we can drive our own image online and become even more self centred than before. What was hidden because of public “frowning” before is now let loose on the web because the ego goes unchecked. We’ve always lived this dangerous life where we think we know better and are better. It was checked by society. Now there is no one to check it because we can hide our faces behind our screens. The saddest part of it all is that we don’t even notice it. We don’t even know it. And we will fight this idea because it can’t be me right?

I mean really. Do you bloody well think you are God because you have followers? Do you expect these followers to become your diciples? Bow down before the might virtual God.

This is what I fear. That something that started as a new way to connect us actually tears us apart without us even knowing or taking notice because we are too absorbed in our own little virtual world where we are God. Something that makes information democratic becomes just another way for the individual ego to replace the ubuntu. You see it in little ways as peoples “updates” move from conversations to self promotion and ego boosting random self-perceived “wisdoms”. We don’t use Twitter to share random thoughts with our friends and converse with other. We now use it to create followers by the thousands so they can hear our wonderful stories and so that they can feel the glow of our 140 character Bible.

It’s in the nature of people I guess. We create something we think could be good. We start off doing good. And then we get seduced by the power it gives to our ego. We create something good but we don’t know how to control it. Actually, we don’t know how to control ourselves. It’s not in our nature to control ourselves. Even when we think we do and can. We are so easily duped by our own ego. We don’t even know it or see it. And we become like the people we despise. Those people who only think about themselves. Those same people who say they do it for “the people”. We become them. We just don’t see it. But it is hidden in those Tweets. In those updates. In those… hitting of the keyboard sending our ego into virtual space. Like a drug for the self-centered soul.

Me is the new religion of the internet.

Web 2.0 is turning us into Me 2.0.

It’s not social media. It’s self media 1.0.

Don’t update your status. Update your life. Don’t tweet the ego…

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I pick stoopid...

I pick stoopid...

An amazing thing happened a few days ago. On Tuesday evening. Just a regular day. My daughter’s birthday…

It started because someone was bored. Doing nothing. Hanging out at his house and bored stiff. So he decided to do what he always does when he is bored. He went surfing. The internet, dudes and dudettes.

And he Googled. He Googled “What are we doing here on earth”. Just to look for some theories. You know, to look at while he was bored. And he found my blog. Or rather, he found “What are we doing?” (I know, my regular friends over here will roll their eyes and feel sorry for the guy. Of all the places in the world… Some people just don’t have any luck or catch any breaks.) But somehow it made a connection. He found value in it. It made him rethink… I don’t know… how we are in life. You know. What are we doing?

He didn’t stop there though. He went a little step further. He created a Facebook Group – What are we doing? (Join in!)

Let’ me put it in his words:

The text below is nothing more than a simple blog post by someone I’ve never met before; I just happened to stumble across their written thoughts. It changed the way I look at life.

Forget being too cocky or cool to read it and really try to understand what the writer is talking about: Us. As living things, as human beings, as people, as a global society. I think a lot of people in this world need to slow down and understand what it really means to be alive and enjoy ourselves and each other.

Read the text. Join the group. Invite your friends. Hope that others read it and understand it as much as you have. You might be able to change someone’s perspective on life. Thank you!”

As simple as that. And something happened.

More than 2,500 members and growing.

And people putting it up on their blogs and sites. And translating it into Spanish. Sharing with others. Asking the question. Doing something.

People asking “What are we doing?” And maybe getting inspired to do something. And talking about what they are doing or what they are going to do. They talk change. They talk about being the change. Because they know it starts with each and every one of us.

A few people have asked who I am. Even saying I should get more credit. But that’s where they are getting it a bit wrong. Firstly, he gave me credit. Left a link. And gave the ultimate compliment by finding inspiration in something I wrote. It’s an honor beyond belief. But the most important part of the question is that it is not about me. Who wrote it is unimportant. Who I am is unimportant. Anyone could have written it. I just had the time. And some words. The important part is – What are you doing? Just do anything really. Okay, anything good. To make a difference. Five minutes. One smile. Anything. Really.

It’s not about me.

Most of the people who joined just see it for what it is. A blog written in frustration. Written because I just don’t get it. Don’t get why we aren’t all just trying a little bit harder. It’s our only little ball of rock and crap floating in the middle of nowhere. It’s all we have. Shouldn’t we at least give it a shot? Should we at least try to do something to leave it a bit better when we go? Leave a legacy people can look back at and smile? Something we can be proud of even if we are dead?

But there are a few people complaining that it isn’t “scientifically” correct. That I didn’t get all the “facts” right. You know – science will save us all… They complain that I said our little patch is a few billion years old instead of saying that it is 4.5 billion. I didn’t get all the facts right… Nit-picking. Playing the fiddle while Rome burns.

Okay. You are brighter than me. So what? Tell me. What are you doing? And I don’t want to hear about quantum mechanics or the general theory of relativity. (I don’t like conflict.) I don’t want to know if you are a scientist building a new kind of bomb, testing on animals or creating a super drug to heal us of hair-loss. I just want to know what are you doing as a human being to make our little patch a bit better.

I don’t care if you think the earth was build in a day or seven. Or a billion. Or that we are heading for disaster. Or that God made earth. Or Allah rules. Or no one rules but you. Or that it is in our nature to rule. The fittest will survive. Or that we shouldn’t eat meat anymore. Or that we should eat meat. Or J-Z rules. Or Paris is so yesterday. Or all the other cool things you know. (I like your t-shirt, by the way.)

But all that? Is nothing. It’s minor details. It’s noise. It’s excuses. It distractions. It’s the glasses you put on while watching life go by. It’s the fiddle you play. It’s you being Nero. It’s not doing. Anything. It’s just blah-blah.

You are smarter than me. So much more intelligent. You are cooler than me. You know it baby. I give it to you. I hope it makes you feel better. Can we agree and get a move on?

I’m just a guy. Born in South Africa. Writing on the train going into Boston. I’m the guy you walk past while you listen to your iPod. I’m the guy who serves you your dinner. I’m the girl who helps you at the bank. I’m the guy who works in your garden. I’m the girl cleaning your house. I’m the girl you work for. I’m the guy who works for you. I’m the guy who is trying to sell you a newspaper or a packet of cigarettes. I’m just a guy. No one special. Just a guy who wrote a blog. You are the cool one. You are the smart one.

Now tell me. What are you doing?

I know what Nathan did. And he was bored. And decided to go surfing. And do something.

__________________________________

To Nathan: Thanks. It’s the best birthday present my daughter got on her birthday. She won’t even know it. But thanks to you she has a better shot at having a bit of a life when she grows up. Salt man. Salt.

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It's the only one we have

It's the only one we have

For those who don’t believe in evolution – stop reading. No wait! It actually doesn’t matter. My question will stay the same. Whether you do it in the name of God. Or Allah. Or Yourselfishness. Or the Big Emptiness. Or communism. Or the Dalai Lama. Or Ganesha. Or the dog down the road. It doesn’t matter. The question stays the same.

What are we doing?

Do you know what a privilege it is to be here on earth? Think about it. You are so damn lucky.  Think about how you somehow managed to pick the one little ball of rock that can sustain life. Billions of years ago. A Big Bang. It took a few billion years for enough dust particles to stick together. And eventually form earth. A few lost comets and debris crashing into this little ball provided the stuff needed to start good old earth. Water. H and little bit of O. And… And the other stuff like hum… metals and chemicals needed to eventually hang around to build this blue looking rock hanging out in space. And it started swinging. Swinging away around the sun. A touch of atmosphere. And it gets to grips with itself – gravity. And it stays just far enough and close enough from the sun to maybe sustain life.

And it did. Life came to earth. Think back to what it took to get you here. After a few more years. A billion plus. Something stirred. From deep inside… hum… somewhere. And life was born. Not much of a life. Not as we know it. But it stirred. And eventually formed some algae. That at bloody last turned into something with eyes and fins. Got sick and tired of staying in the water the whole time and eventually crawled out. From there it was a hop, skip and a jump to monkey and then man. What a ride.

Think about it. Your ancestors. From the algae that didn’t get burned. To that thing in the water that didn’t get eaten by our early cousin the shark. Crawled unto land and somehow managed to make it. Not get squashed by big old Apatosaurus. Hid from the saber-toothed tiger while hanging out in the trees. Dodged  bullets during wars. Each and every single day. For billions of years. Your ancestors got the lucky breaks. Always at the right place at the right time. Never got caught flatfooted. Never choked on a banana or a flea picked from our less lucky uncle Earl. Remember him? He “invented” the spear by accident. But it got stuck in his head. In on the one side and out the other side. He didn’t make it. No. Our ancestors always got away. For billions of years. And here you are. Drum roll please. Ta da!

What will you leave for me?

What will you leave for me?

We are damn, damn lucky. It took so much effort just to get us here. All the breaks you could ask for – we got it. Talk about being privileged. Talk about knowing the right people. Having the right genes. And here we are. So what are we doing? What are we doing?

What are we doing with our lucky break?

That day...

That day...

We sit in front of the idiot box and watch stupid stories of murder or love or “reality”. We drive our big fat cars to fit our big fat ego’s. We eat hormone induced meat because we can’t bother to hunt or even know where our food comes from. We sit in our air-conditioned offices and watch the world go by. All the time trying to sell something. To make more money. Selling ourselves. Selling our souls. Selling lies. And we go home and have no time for those we leave behind. We don’t look at them and show them how to make sure we stay lucky. How we can make this little rock last a little bit longer. To make those who will come after us have a chance the way we got our chance. And that’s the good part.

We fight wars. We kill in the name of whatever. Or Whatever. But in truth we murder and kill in our own name. It’s us. Not Him. Or Her. Or It. We seek war before we put out our hand in friendship. We will rather fight than try to live. We breed hate before we nurture love. Kill before caring. We would step on that algae that made us before we nurture it to life. Thank god Mother Earth does not have our temperament. She doesn’t care. She just does. We care. We care about us. And not others.

Never again

Never again

We gather things. Things we don’t need. We live for greed. We stuff our faces and then send the rest down the drain. Garbage disposal. We don’t share with those who might need it more. We don’t think that the scraps on our table that gets thrown away can feed a family that comes from our less lucky uncle Earl. And we live for the need for more. More money. More houses. More cars. A better phone. An iPhone. A better laptop. Better cable. Virtual life on the net. Tweeting on Twitter. It’s us, us, us. More, more, more. We just do what is good for us. And not others.

And then we blame. We blame the others when we can’t look in the mirror. When we are so addicted to our lives, but not to life. Addicted to wanting more. And war. And the lies we tell ourselves and to others to make it okay. Okay for ourselves. Because we can’t look in the mirror. What are we doing?

Hector running for us

Hector running for us

Why can’t we evolve? Move forward. Laugh at uncle Earl? Not be like cousin shark. Be a little more in it together?

Why don’t we do our best to make this little world better? To care a little bit more? Why don’t we look after each other? Why don’t we stop the killing? And the dying? And the hunger? Why don’t we know that we are all the same? In the same boat. That it doesn’t matter where you live. Or what you believe. Because, in the end, all we have while we are here and before we die is us. Just us. And our little rock. Why don’t we know that war and hate and blame and greed and… don’t solve problems? That love and friendship and life and caring and sharing and… and… That these are the things that we can leave behind. The lessons to help those who come after us. Because what we leave behind is what will define tomorrow. When we are the ancestors. When our descendants will look back and laugh at how funny we looked. Like Grandpa Algae.

We are lucky. Always have been. And even luckier that we can’t see the future. And that our ancestors can’t see us today. What would they think? What would they ask? Papa Algae won’t be impressed.

What are we doing?

What are you doing?

Together we can

______________________________________________

The world is a puzzling place. The answers aren’t that easy to get. And the questions don’t get any easier. But it doesn’t mean we can’t keep on looking and asking. Sometimes I look in the mirror and stare at myself and this little world of ours. And then I write. You can find more of these thoughts at a page I created that captures links to all of these stories in one place. Go to the “What Are We Doing?” page for these stories. No, it won’t bring you back to this post – it is a seperate page.

Someone read this and decided to start a Facebook Group Page that they hope will inspire people to look at our world and each other in a different and more positive way. Feel free to join if you already belong to Facebook.

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