The Egregore of the 21st Century

A multinational, cross-generational, fear mongering invocation

If after this long, long, long lockdown, You’re craving for some fast-driving-easy-digestive content, please go and find the exit door right away. This is not an intuitive or user friendly placebo, at least not if you (just like me) are crawling from a feedback loop withdrawal of pre-pandemic reality.

Murder Most Foul

Thousand of deaths later, millions of layoffs later, step by step the longing for the “good times” is here. Not thousands but millions of surviving pleasure oriented animals need to be feed, just because anything remotely different from ecstasy nowadays is labeled as pain. And yet the “business as usual” mantra is the lighthouse dim light at the foggy ocean of economical depression. From the fragile point of view of my lifestyle, a shallop, sailing adrift these turbulent waters, I can see the ruins of every Atlantis of the human experience as a market opportunity, haunting me from the depths of the Anthropocene.

It probably was not necessary for the old Bob Dylan to confirm us that 20 years into this millennium, all the ideas praised in the 60’s are being conveniently repurposed as collectable X-ray memorabilia for the lords of the attention economy. In the past, divided by wars and terrorism, recently by the climate emergency, and currently by a pandemic virus We are confronted with our ideal world in decay.

It was a government fault? or it was a coalition? It was a multinational corporation? Who is to blame? I’m not sure if this is applies as that "personal responsibility" Jordan Peterson has been arguing so much about. Nor pure bad luck, nor Murphy’s law, nor circumstances, nor blind faith in the mighty economy. Could it be the arrogance in the hands of men in power we elected? too much vanity in the message of condescendence for the very lifestyle we accepted?. Only us in our free will, decided to maintain this nightmarish abstraction of efficiency and productivity for so long to be annoyed by an efficient and destructive virus.

Failing close to home

Less than 10 years ago I was part of an association aiming to highlight the town I live in, Barcelona, as the best place for entrepreneurs and venture capitalist. The funny thing is that the goal in the association’s manifesto, included a date to achieve that optimistic goal, it was actually the year 2020. How our arrogant minds could ever even imagine 2020 would be the year for testing our immunity to shock? our immunity to bullshit, our immunity to misinformation, misconduct and misleading. Today Barcelona is just another city in a long list of European casualties.

What happened to that sense of control granted by the information economy? even the Silicon Valley’s display window: Mobile World Congress, was canceled in Barcelona. All that noise, all that pretend, all that novelty… gone, useless, preposterous. No matter how cynic our expectations are about an optimistic aftermath, in the short term every entrepreneurial initiative that is not selling masks or gel, are just dancing #coffindance like in the best of memes.

Social Media Distancing

“...I don’t watch TV....”, that was a common phrase for people who asumed that they were just above the current stream of information, mainly because they complete that phrase with “…I’m so busy doing things”. Getting content or information from outside mainstream media don’t impede that information keep on flowing here and everywhere quick, no matter if you got a monitor turned on or not, notifications and social media got you covered with the latest COVID news and fake news.

Inside the information economy everything is quick. Yep, everything, quick responses, quick solutions, all the money is ready to invest for the quickness just for the sake of quick. But unfortunately in front of a pandemic menace everything slow down till it get frozen. We didn’t have the money, We didn’t have the resources, We were not prepared, We didn’t pay attention to our fragility. This crisis didn’t unveil anything overlooked, we deliberately decided a long time ago not to look in that direction, We just comfort ourselves watching a small screen and keep scrolling.

Murmur as a Service

If reading a book has become a luxury inside the attention economy dictatorship; reading Anand Giridharadas or Jia Tolentino hasn’t gave me any solace, neither reading Jaron Lanier nor Evgeny Morozov. Thanks to confinement another media with a long history as a bastion of boredom rise as a source of comfort (or whatever you need to hear while isolation keep you away from your gregarious nature) I’m talking about podcasts, lots and lots and lots of podcasts.

Functioning inside the same algorithm game of YouTube personalities, the podcasts have become the bar, the cafeteria, the sociable realm, the crowd murmur that keeps you connected to some form of humanistic behaviour. But as always, only some ideas are highlighted, the only relevant reality, the USA perspective stains every content, driving the conversation away from complexity and idiosyncratic diversity, to the point that maybe somebody, somewhere, far away from any Anglo-Saxon, liberal or conservative influenced, could be hearing Joe Rogan and think that maybe there’s a part of that reality affecting your day to day, ergo your reasoning must be aligned with that content.

Escape Culture

And yet the circumstances are different, our societies are different, our experiences are different. We are just clinging to the possibility of reason inside chaos, our kick of dopamine in the order of ideas, the meaning behind our anguish in the words of somebody arguing conspiracies, secret agendas, or just plain talk about irrelevant matters to our short term problems.

At this long time available for thinking, we are witnessing our societies collapse in stagnation in the hands of laughingstock leaders by cruel displays of power, people drowning in the Mediterranean sea escaping from war and hunger, the uprising of tribal factions in every country like in the worst imaginary plot from some Chuck Palahniuk's novel. There’s no cultural cliche that could woke somebody from this cynical downfall.

I realised that maybe, our collective thoughts - lead by a doctrine that promotes lack of empathy - tempt us to affect our close environment but also affect people we don’t even know, thus detonating the worst chain effect we could ever imagined. Perhaps all the chaos we percieve in 2020 is the result of a cross generational invocation, the egregore of the 21st century. Generation X, Millenials and Generation Z keep alive the main source of our tragedy simply because all these generations don’t even know how to escape the complex labyrinth of abstractions they grew up in.

And yet this is a spell that future generations must be able to escape from. This is no more about, populism, isolationism, denialism, neither an individual task. After a treatment or a vaccine change the current situation and help to build confidence in our "old ways" it also must build confidence in "new ways" that could be the last chance for our collective wellbeing.