Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Musings: Twitterings

The world, at least the part of it that I occupy, is all a twitter this morning, and it’s the good kind, the kind made by birds as they fly about, searching for bugs and worms in the wet grass, establishing territory, perhaps courting, doing whatver they need to survive, and all the while singing.

It’s very different than the decidedly joyless twitter that presents itself over the Internet, reflecting the self-inflicted concerns and cares that dominate human existence, causing me to wonder — again — just how it is that we’ve gotten so very out of touch, when we’re supposedly more connected than ever.

It’s not unlike the Twitter feeds found on some websites, that tell us what the poster was doing two minutes, 12 hours, before. We have all the mundane details these days, yet we’re missing the big picture.

I used to think that people just had to be taught how to see the big picture, or that they simply hadn’t been exposed to the advantages of that kind of thought. Now I’m beginning to think it’s more an issue of mass denial, aided by media-created mass distraction.

Rolling Stone summed up that dynamic particularly well in an article about Sarah Palin:

Here's the thing about Americans. You can send their kids off by the thousands to get their balls blown off in foreign lands for no reason at all, saddle them with billions in debt year after congressional year while they spend their winters cheerfully watching game shows and football, pull the rug out from under their mortgages, and leave them living off their credit cards and their Wal-Mart salaries while you move their jobs to China and Bangalore.

And none of it matters, so long as you remember a few months before Election Day to offer them a two-bit caricature culled from some cutting-room-floor episode of Roseanne as part of your presidential ticket. And if she's a good enough likeness of a loudmouthed Middle American archetype, as Sarah Palin is, John Q. Public will drop his giant-size bag of Doritos in gratitude, wipe the Sizzlin' Picante dust from his lips and rush to the booth to vote for her. Not because it makes sense, or because it has a chance of improving his life or anyone else's, but simply because it appeals to the low-humming narcissism that substitutes for his personality, because the image on TV reminds him of the mean, brainless slob he sees in the mirror every morning.

Most people don’t want to look much beyond their own reflection, because if you’re looking at the big picture right now, it’s pretty darn sobering.

New Dimensions has a program on that topic, which you can listen to for free through tomorrow (and I really hope you do), entitled ”Going Green is Not Enough.” In it, author and permaculture expert Chuck Burr exposes the fallacy that solar and other feel-good measures are going to resolve the energy crisis, or any of the other problems currently facing us.

The crux of the matter, as Burr lays it out, is that humans evolved in tribes that inhabited bioregions whose resources kept their populations in check. But oil changed all that, resulting in a population boom that we know isn’t sustainable and giving rise to a bizarre economic system known as “world trade,” which consumes unimaginable amounts of resources shifting goods from one bioregion to another.

This oil-fueled gorge-a-thon can’t go on forever, and Burr says what’s needed, besides one-child families for a few generations to get the population down, is a shift toward that old tribal approach of living sustainably within our bioregions.

It’s certainly nothing new, neither the concept nor talk about it, but I just don’t see any significant movement in that direction. It seems we might have a chance for such an approach here in Hawaii, with our relatively small population, large amounts of open land, ample water and marine resources that haven’t been totally plundered. We’ve also got at least fragments of the indigenous culture left, with its vital knowledge of how such a life was lived not so very long ago.

Yet aside from the state contemplating an ahupuaa approach to land and resource decision-making, and a handful of folks saying we've got to start growing our own food, nothing really concrete is happening. And if we can’t do it here, which I believe is still possible, how in the world would such a shift be carried out in large urban areas?

Meanwhile, our species seems to have misplaced or forgotten the basic consciousness needed to move us there. So many people still subscribe to the theory of pillage and plunder when it comes to nature. If we haven’t yet mastered the basics — take care of the earth and it will take care of us — how are we going to move on to more advanced concepts?

There’s something else missing, too, and that’s the heart energy. LightLine sent around an email yesterday with a link to a YouTube video about an Australian medium’s prediction of a major extraterrestrial visit next Tuesday. It seems they’re coming to help free humans from the grip of dark energy.

I checked out the video, which featured medium Blossom Goodchild, but what really struck me were the comments that had been posted. Regardless of what one thinks of UFOs or space visits or mediums, Blossom was very clearly delivering a message of “choose love.”

And people didn’t want to hear it. Some were linking her with Hitler and various cults, others were saying they’d make it their life’s mission to expose her; most were abusive and hateful. But the saddest were the comments left by those who chastised Blossom for failing to take seriously the grave consequences of offering people hope that would inevitably be dashed. Wow. That spoke volumes to me.

As I wrote this, I conversed with a shama perched on the poinsettia bush outside my front door. It would whistle, then pause, as I repeated what I’d heard, the best I could. But I couldn’t keep up, as its warbling lyrics grew increasingly complex. And soon it lost interest in my flawed twitterings, and flew away.


Ed Coll said...

Joan wrote, "It’s not unlike the Twitter feeds found on some websites, that tell us what the poster was doing two minutes, 12 hours, before. We have all the mundane details these days, yet we’re missing the big picture."

I hope your example of the self-absorbed usage of Twitter is not a condemnation of Twitter technology itself as a valuable item in any reporters toolkit. I followed a number of tweets from the recent RNC. See http://graphicdesignr.net/blog/2008/09/03/newspapers-that-twitter-august-numbers/ for a list of (mainstream media)reporters & newspapers using Twitter.

140 characters cannot explain the big picture but Twitter is of great value in keeping people informed during unfolding events when a quick response may make a difference in the outcome of that event. Tweets need not go to websites but to cel phones of all individuals following reporters. It is free as well. Check it out at http://twitter.com

Joan Conrow said...

No, Ed, it's not a condemnation of the technology, or even of the "self-absorbed" uses, which can be quite entertaining. Thanks for telling us more about it.

Ed Coll said...

Listening to tweeting birds is more relaxing.

Ed Coll said...

When it comes to entertainment give me the bird songs ;-)