We are flooded with information. We are flooded with misinformation. The media landscape has become saturated with news, statistics, opinions and personal stories (my own included) of nearly every form concerning racism, immigration and identity politics. Politicians and leaders everywhere have cleverly forged these heavy topics into sturdy oars in their unscrupulous battles for power. Certainly, they have always done so, but now they have even greater reach and drive, the ripples of their strokes spreading far out across the globe. Some say the landscape has become oversaturated, while others say the time has finally come for these deeply submerged issues to surface, to be examined in full light, and debated in a scale the world has never seen before—that is, before the internet made it possible.

Wherever you stand on these issues, it is extremely difficult to escape the undertow and crush of powerful waves stirred up by anger, hate and controversy, ceaseless and overflowing. That is, unless you disengage.

One way to disengage is to unplug all your devices, but that is quite drastic. Another way to disengage is to turn off all but the most basic notifications and apply stronger filters to your various feeds. Technology has given us the amazing and rather frightening ability to make our personal bubbles even more impenetrable, so there is very little possibility for new information to challenge us in any way.

However, social media has found some creative ways to circumvent that, beneficially and detrimentally: dispersing provocative content enticingly, “popular” opinions exponentially multiplied by bots, or worst, they have given shady provocateurs access to your personal information. With this maddening array of choices (and their chaotic outcomes), by far the surest and quickest way to disengage is to simply do so mentally—to simply wash your hands of it by letting it wash over you unprocessed, unfiltered, unknown. We are fatigued. Exasperated. Then we become inured, numbed.

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Unfortunately, this also plays well in the strategies of those who strive to manipulate us for personal gain. If you can’t move people with any type of information, fact, or statistic, you can render them harmless with bombardment and repetition. A sea of dissonance harbors disillusionment.

There are also ways to make a person or a topic seem important that do not depend on the content of their character or any intrinsic value, rather, the amount of focus placed on them and the group they represent. This has worked out very well for many politicians, who severely lacking in crucial aspects of character, are more interested in bending the truth, in rewriting reality itself than searching for it or championing it.

The question of reality is the ultimate one. It is the common denominator in this sea roiling with contradictory stories and arguments unceasing. What is reality? A solid answer seems aggravatingly unattainable. The force of multitudes of opinions clashing, the cacophony of voices debating, insulting, insisting on their truths all at once have rendered it shape-shifting, malleable. Has reality become fluid or was it always so? Are we drowning in an ocean of realities? Have we nothing to guide us but only the most bombastic and fervent of lighthouses?

It seems we cannot decide on a reality. At the very least, a shared one. One that does not diminish anyone’s humanity. We feel threatened, opposed, endangered. Some want to erect stronger walls to keep those away who yearn for the relative stability within those borders, tenuous and fragile it may well be. Some want to be separated from those who do not share in their beliefs, or values, or race. And yet the cry of divisiveness is the most common accusation from everyone on every side. They are dividing the country. They are dividing us. We are divided.

It is a bit of a misnomer to divide the sea. Water is composed of the same primary elements. It does not seek to be distinct unless there is an active agent or an impermeable barrier. It flows to reach equilibrium. That is the way of things. Nature moves towards balance. Our universe expands until it reaches a symmetry of critical mass. Then it rapidly contracts until it reaches singularity. And then it begins again.

Take a deep breath.

alightcircledreamscape2mpbaecker

Text and images by M.P. Baecker © 2018.

17 thoughts on “Dividing the Sea

  1. brilliant post. I can never disengage. I’m a politics and news junkie. But I always try to have an open mind. I lean conservative on many matters but I never lose my humanity for the sake of my convictions. My biggest struggle is seeking and finding the actual facts, not commentary, opinion or bias. Alas, in the junkyard of the internet ether it is a nearly unattainable goal

    Liked by 1 person

    • Finding the truth, objectivity and solid facts seems to be frustrating everyone now!!! I almost wrote an essay about that very topic, but it still needs some work. Lately, I’ve been regarding FB, Insta, Twitter as “Idea feeds” not newsfeed or fact feeds. It’s all “kinda newsy”, then I double-check them against another source, if several news outlets (though not Faux news) confirm the story then it ascends to “news” for me. Understandably, many say, even that should be questioned as well, and there are several new websites devoted to “truth meters”. It’s worth investigating!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish that kids these days could have a taste of what it was like to grow up in the 80’s. We had no cell phones, and our connections were built on voices and being in each others’ presence. It was magic back then. We are so plugged in now, inundating us is a constant stream of information. What frustrates me is that some don’t make an effort to identify truths and live in a reality that is destructive and cruel. You can’t believe everything you read, but so many do. Watching the events south of the border unfold is breaking my heart. But, I have to hold on and trust that in the end, common sense and decency will prevail. It has to, right? Great post, as always! Have a fabulous week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you! I remember the 80s too well! My family was also slightly behind the times, we were probably the last to get a computer in our block by the time the 90s ended! I went back to college a few years ago for my German language degree and was shocked to find my much younger classmates having no idea how significant Wikipedia and Google is! I doubt any of them even know what an encyclopedia was and how it wasn’t easily accessible for many people. We can’t ever forget that the internet is just a tool, just like any other, there are real people behind these stories!

      Like

    • Me too! I don’t know if it was the times when I used to watch TV, but I always used to just get programs for old people and soap operas, so I don’t miss having one at all. I love being able to put a program on pause and to choose what to watch. But there is also this randomness factor of TV that I often wonder about in terms of getting new information or something wonderfully unexpected (though I don’t recall getting that with the old TV). Overwhelmed is pretty much my constant emotional state lately 😄. Deep breath indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Unfortunately, in a society that is so plugged in, I think we also give up a lot by detaching ourselves from that digital flow. It’s the equivalent of moving into a cave in the old days – there are advantages, but we’re not part of society anymore.

    There’s a spoken sound sample on Jenny Hval’s last LP, and I don’t know where she got it from, but it reminded me of this: “It sums up the strange mood of our time when nothing really makes any coherent sense. We live with a constant vaudeville of contradictory stories that makes it impossible for any real opposition to emerge, because they can’t counter it with a coherent narrative of their own. And it means that we as individuals become ever more powerless, unable to challenge anything because we live in a state of confusion and uncertainty.”

    (Actually, I just cut and pasted the content into google and it’s the BBC’s Adam Curtis.)

    Liked by 3 people

    • That is a such a great quote! Thank you!

      I don’t think I can fully unplug either, I can’t help but enjoy the array of opinions, tastes and voices we can experience now. I still remember a time when most information and entertainment came from a small group of elite editors. There are so many possibilities now that I never could have imagined in the 80s or 90s, at the same time it poses a tremendous problem with too many competing narratives and overwhelming dissonance creating this insidious fatigue and powerlessness. I wonder if it will lead us down a dark path or open up something better, perhaps if we can agree on a setting some clear boundaries with very clear reasons…This is just a medium, a tool, like any other, it is a simulation, at times a very poor simulation.

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  4. “Politicians and leaders everywhere have cleverly forged these heavy topics into sturdy oars in their unscrupulous battles for power.” As they always have, as you say. Brilliant line. Brilliant piece.

    But today their reach is greater. And because so many have tuned out – disengaged mentally – it becomes increasingly impossible for so many to see through the lies. A charlatan with a no clear plan except self-aggrandizement can tell the growing population of disengaged exactly what they long to hear and sweep them up into a spell of furor. An ocean of anger. A sea of fear. A tidal wave of intolerance. And when it strikes land it engulfs the centers of enlightenment, drowning erudition with ignorance and dogma.

    ::sigh::

    Deep breath indeed …

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you!☺️☺️ Your comment is brilliant as well Tom!

      “An ocean of anger. A sea of fear. A tidal wave of intolerance.” I feel that in my bones. These mass phenomena are best seen as waves, and for our own sanity, best observed from a (safe) distance as a stormy sea. Like most people, I am very emotional, but I also have the sense to question the motive behind the story that is provoking me (or trying to provoke me) emotionally. I think we should all question these motives and make them more transparent. I don’t want to stop feeling, emotions make life so beautiful, but I think its also important to seek balance and to unplug sometimes when it gets overwhelming.

      I have a lot to say, too much to say, about the huge immigrant issues currently riling everyone up on all sides: The cruel separation of children from their parents, the criminal prosecution of illegals, addressing any valid fears residents might have about immigrants and so on, but I’ll have to save that for a much longer piece and for my book. But I also know that someone could easily use any and all my attempts at any convincing argument to rant about rampant subjectivity or snowflake liberalism.

      Let’s all take a deep breath, whatever we decide to do next, to swim, to float, to dive, to be fully engaged in an earnest discussion, to vote, to support charities, we can do any of these things, the only thing we shouldn’t do is let ourselves drown!

      Liked by 1 person

      • “But I also know that someone could easily use any and all my attempts at any convincing argument to rant about rampant subjectivity or snowflake liberalism.”

        So true, which is why I pick my spots to rant. I am amazed at the depth of foolish ignorance I see (from both sides, don’t get me wrong; many deny reality or reduce to pettiness when producing a rebuttal).

        But don’t let ourselves drown. I really like that. Keep treading, sister!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. How do I get my peace back, that is how do I reach and hopefully maintain a peaceful frame of mind I long for?
    At one point, I decided to unplug all my devices, as you call it, which was indeed quite drastic. By choosing what to watch and/or read, I’ve managed to get a part of me back.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I ask myself this very same thing! How do I get my peace back? Honestly, the feeling I have most often right now is overwhelmed. So, I like to think of it like entering a large museum full of artwork but having only a limited time, you can either speed through each piece and barely remember them all in the end. Or just focus on the ones that interest you the most and devote lengthy, full attention to them, in that case, you’ll have some great, detailed memories that you can remember for a lifetime! I have the same philosophy with the internet, I think unplugging occasionally might be helpful if it becomes too much, but as you say, choosing what to watch/read is a great solution!

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I agree with you MP and have been watching this for so long…so tired of it too! It’s so important to remain undivided within ourselves and not let the external forces split us apart. Hugs to you across the miles. We must find and stay close to our heartspace even if it seems harder now than ever before.

    Liked by 4 people

    • It’s so great to read your comments (as always)! I totally agree with you to “not let the external forces split us apart.” Somehow with all this rhetoric and controversy in the media, I’ve been reading many intellectual arguments for and against heavy topics like immigration and so on, but somehow, no matter valiant any of these arguments are, they miss the point: No matter what anyone says to me otherwise, whatever laws exist or don’t exist, I will always take care of children, help the weak and the poor. I could never justify any cruelty to children, no matter what. That’s crystal clear in the heart, not the brain!

      Liked by 1 person

      • MPB Sadly far too many have hearts but have forgotten how to use them or have had them tenderized to useless meat by repeated exposure to cruelty. Continue to lead by your example and no matter what this world would suggest, imply or downright demand you think, say and do – be a light….be love…be you! Love to you. I enjoy your posts and look forward to the next.

        Liked by 2 people

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