becoming invisible

In former times, the worst possible punishment a society could impose on an individual was being sentenced to invisibility. Ayla was thus sentenced by her clan in Jean Marie Auel’s “The clan of the cave bear“. Without the support of the cavemen society, life would normally meet an end for a social being as the Neanderthal were. Our strength lays in social interaction and thus our survival. It is hence no wonder that social isolation afflict us in a special irreflexive way today.

One widespread mode of social isolation is what elderly experience as they pass the age when they are regarded as “customers”. In a capitalist economical system—as well as the communist implementation that history records (E. Fromm), an individual may be regarded as a customer as long as this individual will actively engage in economical activities by exchanging money for services and goods. As long as each of us is seen as a potential customer we do enjoy social awareness and we feel part of the whole. But as soon as we come to fit into the type of individual that is no more seen as a potential customer, society will loose interest on us, up to the point when we will feel socially isolated. It is often for this reason that people reaching their retirement age will feel anxiety and look for workarounds to still feel useful and part of the society.

It is unfortunate and a sign of our shortcomings as a society, that we let our elderly live their life in anxiety. Those people who built the world we are now living on. That created the basement of what things we are today ourselves building. We should be reminded that this fate is waiting for all of us “customers” too, unless we start doing something about it now.

There is an untapped potential in our elderly, waiting for us to channel it. Our mobile and modern lifestyle rendered them away from the traditional family environment, but our technology can bring them back where they always belonged for a very needed role that our children today, as much as ever, long and need in order to grow as whole persons.

to be or to have

What do I want? I want to be happy. Fair enough. To be happy I need things. Yet my ultimate purpose is to BE happy and not to HAVE things. So far so good.

To BE happy I need first and foremost a healthy body upon I can live. I can be happy in an unhealthy or mangled body but it is much harder. Thus I need to HAVE the first thing. If I am lucky enough to have been born in a healthy body, now I just need to keep it healthy. And if not, I have to learn to BE with what I got and try to improve it if possible. For all purposes, the body is the first and most important THING I need to BE happy.

To keep a healthy body I need once more to have things. Possibly the most urgent and important, I need to procure my body with good nutrients (not antibiotics-infested meet grown in a farm I do not dare even imagine if I want to keep myself in a state of ignorant bliss-sanity). To procure good nutrients to my body I need to either grow them myself or buy them with money. Hence now I need to HAVE land and/or money. Secondly, I need shelter; a healthy space, dry, illuminated, spacious enough and protected from cold or hot weather. I need a medical insurance. Ultimately, to be able to HAVE all of this, I practically need to HAVE money.

Unless I am born in a rich family, I need to become somebody if I want to be able to HAVE money. I need to become useful to the society and through my usefulness seek a way to acquire money. Hence my task to BE happy is usually surrogated primarily to becoming useful to the society. And here I may get already lost in the way and forget the purpose of the trip.

Now that I have and can keep a healthy body, and if I didn’t get lost on the way, I need to figure out what do I want to do with it that would enable me to BE happy. I need now a purpose. But the purpose would be meaningless if it would only become the act of HAVING things. I need to BECOME someone. And here again I can easily get once more lost. And I haven’t yet started walking my path to happiness.

solving asymmetry

After journalists from the SZ-Zeitung published their research on the manner and methods that facebook use to remove content, A swift reaction from the German Minister of Justice urging social media companies to expedite the deletion of content that violates the German constitution and rights was reported today. Even pointing to possible penalties if those companies lag behind their offending content.

Such swiftness, if only but for this encouraging exception today, is not the strongest trait of governments and public institutions. And we would be naive unloading that burden on them.

Social media is a very fluid and agile world, and therefore extremly difficult to tackle and regulate. The social problems that social media is creating need to be solved with methods and resources inherent to social media if they have to be tackled effectively. Yet the sheer amount of content that social media companies garner can not possibly be regulated by those companies. The effort is far too huge. There is an intrinsic and bold asymmetry between the infrastructure and the user base.

A different approach is required. We, all of us, have to join our efforts and help our institutions and governments keep social media within the legal framework of our constitutions and laws if we want it to happen any time in the future.

The blockchain technology could be brought to be the backbone of a global reputation and refutation system. Much alike the scientific community does but using the trust-less character of the blockchain hence without the gateway of having to be an accredited scientist to have your say. Starting by attributing each person a base reputation index based on education level and let it develop further by using a reputation-currency.