Offbeat – 14 March 2014
Loss of human diversity is extremely perilous and becoming more so by the year as global exposure becomes more pervasive. Loss of that diversity is loss of the ability to think about and see things in different ways.
AC/DC showed up on Facebook, in an orchestral version. Hurray! Let me qualify that. I was never a fan of the band, so that was an ironic ‘hurry’. I also detest orchestral versions of rock songs, so let’s make that a double ironic ‘hurray’ with bells on.
The first few times I saw the post, I just ignored it. Then it started cropping up everywhere, like ants in an open sugar pot in the rainy season. I didn’t open it, but I felt the accusatory virtual glare of my friends for not enjoying it with them. Sometimes life is tough.
But wait! There’s more. This is only the first round. If you are a Facebook resident, you will know the phenomenon of the photo that keeps on reappearing every few months, because somebody just got the joke now, or remembered how funny it was and wanted to share the laughter with us yet again. I guess AC/DC will be showing up again sometime in the next year or so. And don’t worry if you miss Grumpy Cat. That cynicism will show up again as well. So will the baby with the beer mug.
Now imagine the number of pictures contracting, as more and more people begin posting the same stuff from all over the world. Facebook is a type of community, and belonging to a community tends to move people into similar types of behaviour and attitudes.
How did I get to this point? I was thinking about diversity. A lot is said about the need for plant and animal diversity, but humans need diversity as well.
Humans are finding uniformity far easier than ever. It’s the result of near instantaneous global communication. That communication covers just about everything from behaviour and attitudes to culture and the same old boring Facebook posts that make you want to unfriend people for the sole purpose of seeing less neon postcards extolling the virtues of alcoholism and not giving a fork.
The idea of losing human diversity is something worth thinking about.
Different people have different ways of thinking, at least up until this point. Two phenomena that match, for instance, an approach to breakfast, or an approach to healing are reflections in a distorted mirror. What the one reflects back shows the other what might be, and possibly some imperfections.
Take the case of breakfast for instance. The traditional European breakfast might be eggs on toast and a bowl of cereal. That same breakfast, in the Mediterranean, might be a bowl of salad. Both cultures can take something from one another, if not health in the European conception, then help for a hangover in the Mediterranean.
What about approaches to mental health. A volatile Italian could easily be mistaken for someone prone to hysterics in the USA. Someone with the typical German bent of being bureaucratically perfect, even in recreation, could be mistaken for OCD in the USA. Yet the question has to be asked, is the American way entirely healthy? Now what about music, art, stories, legends, myths, religions and tribal knowledge?
Loss of human diversity is extremely perilous and becoming more so by the year as global exposure becomes more pervasive. Loss of that diversity is loss of the ability to think about and see things in different ways. And the laughter from hearing the same joke umpteen times gets more and more strained until it almost becomes unbearable. Quite a lot has been said and written about soft power, the way nations influence one another with friendly spending and expensive projects that flatter and sometimes help the recipients. Sharing of attitudes and export of knowledge, whether appropriate or not, is far more powerful. There’s an economy to it as well.
The nation which produces the most messaging and makes available the most knowledge will dominate. The transaction is the resource to produce the knowledge in return for belief and acculturation. If you don’t believe in it, if you want to preserve some vestige of yourself, one simple step begins the process of self-preservation. Use a social network to express your own opinions. Don’t just blindly repost AC/DC for cellos.