I know I needed some quiet time on vacation, so I’ve opted out of going to the Viking village over the last few days. Yesterday, I went out and did some photography, and I was quite happy with that. Today, I left myself to my thoughts, because I really hadn’t had time to think about the despair or curiosities that were in my mind.
Some days, it is more difficult to go through those waiting thoughts than others.
The Catalyst of Despair
What kicked this off, was the 85 degrees that it was going to be in Gudvangen today. For those who are not familiar, Gudvangen is situated in Norway, deep in a fjord that’s adorned with waterfalls and grand views. Last week, for market, I saw my breath in the middle of the night. Today, it became nearly 20 degrees hotter than the high yesterday.
I have no basis of knowledge to understand whether this is normal or not. But the sharp increase (and my overall hatred for hot weather) reminds me of the climate change that is going on at the moment.
Scientists predicted the changes that we see today, in the 1980’s. The increased overall heat, ever-increasing record temperatures and an increase in carbon emissions are pushing us further and further up the heat index. I could list countless articles that would show that we’re really messing things up.
But, that’s not the source of despair. The problem that humans have, is that most of them don’t understand, or even see, the long game. This has been a slow increase, and it’s not been sharp. It hasn’t affected many lives (yet). The despair is derived from understanding that humans are horrible at seeing consequences. This model of gradual change, and the unnoticed human populace, can be applied to so many problems.
When there are problems, it is easy to turn a blind eye to it until it directly hits home. But still, this is not the source of despair.
Falling down the rabbit hole
My despair comes from knowing that there are groups of people who weaponize fatigue. Who rattle chains further from problems that people care about. My fatigue comes from those who’ll benefit from at least one of those methods. I look to so many areas of politics, and find easy, frequent examples of misinformation firehoses, deliberately causing issues to fight over, and creating a PR buffer from both.
There’s a Japanese proverb that says, “A wolf that chases two rabbits, catches neither.” We become so set on solving every problem, but there are so many that are created, that we become exhausted from fighting them. Intellectual exhaustion happens because of bullshit asymmetry:
The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullshit#Bullshit_asymmetry_principle
In other words, it is far easier to start a fire, than it is to put it out. It can take just one or two people to light an entire village on fire. It will take the entire village to contain the blaze.
There are several effects that come about as a result:
- A massive amount of misinformation can be published, causing true information to become buried. One troll farm was responsible for over 9 million misinformation Tweets. This is just one instance.
- Inflammatory propaganda is much easier to produce, to help propel divisive narratives.
- Intellectual discourse is easily dissuaded, as many with misinformed narratives can speak out against the few who work with facts, and feel correct.
- Rebuttal exhaustion becomes inevitable for those who do continual research, with little to no change in thought of those they argue against. Cognitive dissonance triggers defense mechanisms in the brain similar to a fight or flight response. So a person can provide valid, factual data. If it’s presented and an argument is won in favor of the data, the person who was arguing against it is not likely to change their mind.
Couple this with the majority of readers only reading the headline and sharing it, and you have a wildfire. The lesson is simple: inflame a narrative, do it many times, and then have people fight the issue, instead of coming to you directly.
Effectively, they’ve eliminated disciplined people who investigate by exhaustion. They’ve given people material for their narrative, regardless if it’s well founded. They’ve created a buffer for themselves.
The End Result: Despair
I’ve spent two hours writing this. The result is that a few people will see it, and I will have voiced my concerns, effectively, to a void. It will not suit a narrative for many people, and I will feel that I’ve gotten this off my chest. But, it will only be for a while.
We’ve become a society of instant gratification. In a world where information is at our fingertips, we are concerned about finding what suits us, instead of what is the truth. We rally to news organizations that stoke our adrenaline and make us feel right, instead of those that give us facts.
But the biggest factor in my despair, is that I can do nothing about it. I feel defeated. The only thing I can do, as many others do now, is live in my bubble and try to do the best I can for myself. I am capable of so much, but at the same time, so little.
There’s no happy ending here, except if you find solace knowing you’re not alone.