Monday, March 12, 2007

The standardization of reality.

It hit me today how standardized our reality has become, that through assembly line style processes we become numbed and used to mechanistic repetitive tasks. I believe this has a profound effect on or psychology and how we experience the world. I guess the process really takes hold during school, as a child’s day is arbitrarily broken up into tasks which have little variation and can be counted on from one day to the next. But this standardized existence seems ubiquitous in our society, houses exactly the same, with the same TV’s inside playing the same tv programs to children attending the same schools with the same lessons. Adults doing jobs which require no creativity, driving the same route every day to do the same thing every day. Lives and routines which are identical no matter where in the west one goes.

I think these standardized lives are wrong for several reasons, one of which is how little of our capacity these lives require, how unfulfilling and numbing this existence is. This aspect of modern life has been explored in fields as disparate as pop cultures American Beauty and the Unabomber’s manifesto. What really stands out for me though is how this routine filled existence creates a disconnect between our actions and reality. Because it is impossible to try and find meaning flipping burgers or filling out paperwork to try and force meaning out of these jobs would lead to existential angst and depression.

Because we can’t look for meaning in our day to day lives and still stay sane our ability to notice meaning and the bigger picture behind our actions eventually disappears. This is reinforced by the disconnect I have talked about earlier between humans and nature. I believe that eventually we become capable of committing gross atrocities because of this dulling. That the assemble line nature of our lives forces us to objectify everything and that to both the car assembly line worker and the slaughter house worker they are both just dealing with objects, that they have both divorced any meaning from the work that they are doing. That both the slaughterhouse worker and say a CEO of an oil company have both divorced the effects of their actions on other from the work that they are doing.

I think that this process of divorcing meaning from actions is probably a result of our conditioning and that it’s probably deliberate. I also think that this divorcement of meaning from action makes it impossible to rely on humans to be responsible for their actions. That because of this disconnection no one is able to conceive the results of their actions. This is reinforced by mass media which deliberately tries to mask the links between climate change and the ads for Oil Company’s that they play in the breaks.

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