Monday, March 4, 2013

On ThoughtCrimes And ActionSpeech

Almost Twins on Twitpic
"Almost Twins" Photo Series by Jimmy DiBlanket





Ahh,To Each His/Her Own 'Parole'....

What got me started in the train of thought which will comprise the diatribe which follows first began with a random glance of a fleeting image of words in a News Headline on some major search engine's news feed, "_______ arrested after posting on ---insert social media platform here---". 

The arrest was premised on the spontaneous blurb on said platform of an allegedly self-reported, possibly unlawful happenstance by the person in question.

Of course, this is not the first time such a story has appeared in viral media outlets, but this particular occasion did transport me, semi-indirectly, back to memories of being knee-deep in conceptual discussions in a graduate course on deep textual analysis and the historicity and provenance of text. 

You see, some of the world's most revered French authors, renowned in space and time for their masterful turn of a word, phrase, or literary form first made their mark in literary circles by first writing short, episodic series---most often fiction, but sometimes not, in local news publications. 

The longer the submission, the higher the pay (as the editors paid by the word or by the line for publication). 

The longer the series, the more 'regular' and steady the livelihood.

Popularity ensured lengthy episodics (and drama will always have an audience at the ready.)


Fast-forward to today's fast-paced world, where everything seems to be in reverse. 

People are more than happy to tell you everything, ANYTHING, with no apparent theme---be it in an endless stream (or 140 characters or less ;) ). 

And for FREE, even!   

Now, on certain platforms, a modern day 'writer' must work within given constraints (like,say, 140 characters or the length of an image or width of a text-box). 

And now EVERYONE can be a writer, by the very act of WRITING. 

One is free to press on and write. as one's self, one's "self", or on behalf of others with or without definable points of reference.

The collective sharing culture of the Info age steers all manner of informational writing, whereby all levels of writer and writing may, sheepishly, blur the lines between info and entertainment and trend towards what is most "sensational", 'current', and 'popular' with respect to the attention-addled masses--- that captive audience whose consumption is sought and which,on average, is likely to result in, say, 30 seconds' screen-worth of a given offering. 

Any given 'share' will therefore rarely amount to more than a planche of debris on the info superhighway.


So, let's examine present day multi-user, interactive social platforms--- which continue to increase their virtual foothold and pseudo-omniscience which, despite their built-in limitations, otherwise provide for a free-for-all as to what is or can be shared. 

A typical user's 'feed' will serve the uninitiated with either what 'appears' to be:

-> a stream of disjointed, sporadic thought processing

or, instead 

-> a bouquet of narcissistic redundancy: 

"Visit my site now!"

 "Click Here!", 

"My Site, Here. LOOK!" 

"nOW. sITE. vISIT. mY." 

"My.Me.Give" ;)


In the 'real world', this form of sharing would be, at BEST: 


-> commitment-worthy anti-social, raving lunacy, 

-> waaaay-too-friendly, 

-> or troublingly, perhaps diabolically manic 


subject to very special buses and happy rooms...(Ah, if only!)

Reality notwithstanding,  the culture and mores of the virtual world are engendered by the social platform itself. The new multi-universe breeds a collective sense of normalcy for regularly random intervals of "overshare"---a loose assortment of either trivia, repetition, or fleeting sentience. 


Now, speech is used (or can be used) to share one's:

 beliefs, 

ideas, 

knowledge, 

or emotion. 


Additionally and/or alternatively, speech can also share:

Fiction, 

"polite fiction", 

perception, 

subjectivity, 

farce, 

satire, 

sarcasm.

Um, and irony.

(On behalf of one's self, one's "Self", or of others.

One person's whimsy can be read, on its face, as a social ill borne of depravity. 

This, in spite of the veracity, intent, or provenance of a given message, its authenticity, or authorship. 

Without a deeper narrative (or supporting characters), the original purpose of a message can be lost, misinterpreted, or transposed into whatever the recipient may happen to associate with it, whether they be the intended audience or not. 

Or whether the true intent was ever successfully drawn from the text.


Words are things; 

Words are symbols with meaning built into them, by, well, definition. 

Moreover, they are fluid by nature (and by will) ;

They are not static, fixed entities. 

It is because of the very 'life' of words that they remain open to interpretation, engagement, and debate.

Humanity is what is defined in the gaps...... the omissions; in the pursuit of provenance and consensus.


Why, even comedy depends mightily on this very fluid embodiment---


As does:

literature, 

politics, 

advertising, 

religion, 

conversation (in which one may participate, observe, recount...or overhear)...

As does thought.


In my view, 'social sharing' is the penultimate "overhear". 

A windfall of vacuous truth. 

Akin to 'hearsay'. 

And, legally, normally, that doesn't count. 

(Well, unless you're a certain notorious cellmate on the other side of the steely bars in Chicago. Why, then, statutory exceptions can be made. Just for vous.)

Without more, though, most words (and, by extension, thought) are not actionable. 

Or, rather, should not be.

Not in a free world. 



Now, as a society, it is generally for the common good that we penalize 'overt acts' of speech, such as: 

hatespeech, 

fighting words,

yelling "FIRE" in a crowded room, 

etc

because of their likely tendency and pre-conceived expeditious INTENT to incite moral panic. 

However, token overt acts aside, most thought amounts to 'not that much' . 


Thought is a behemoth which stands alone on the world wide web. 

With no known owner.


Choose Your Own Aftermath,
Sandra LONDON







Follow The Grind

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