Yesterday a female CEO/glorified saleswoman "broke LinkedIn"** with a potty-mouth post to blatantly flog her not-so-in-demand and rather niche/regional product. Predictably it got a lot of reads, attention, comments, and a predictable followup post - basically, "so I said fuck, get over it".
LinkedIn will undoubtedly not "get over it", but *will* absorb the change and suffer another hit to its already waning fortunes as professional-network-turned-Facebook, anticipating the day where it becomes MySpace (read: past tense).
But the noise is instructive. She did what many insurrectionists will do - drive the bus straight into the wall and laugh about it. The famed article "The Tragedy of the Commons" was based more on shared markets being damaged by neglect, less cared for than private spaces - Adam Smith's non-benign one-handed twin.
Here the noise is not just the uproar - it's also the cognitive dissonance - the "you can't do that" feeling that destroys our confidence and basic precepts, violates our now (epi-?)genetically encoded values system - taking the last cookie without asking, crossing the street on red, etc., etc.
Our systems are based on trust and accepted behavior to a large extent, a type of Deity we worship, to which we must make obeisance and token gestures, even if we (as in the conservative movement) are raping and plundering it with glee and abandon. Democracy, freedom, whatever - all the tropes we can summon.
Today I woke with the funny feeling of a World Gone Quiet - all waiting for us, the elephant in the room, the 800 pound gorilla, to do something, anything, whatever we're expecting or not.
The Noise had disappeared for a moment - which is timely, as I've been fighting off the noise the last few days - trying to pick up the signal, trying to figure out what the lesson is for the current times, what kind of fighting or acceptance, new strategy or way of perceiving...
I've picked up Sudoku a bit over the past month, and I noticed the more I fill in every combination, the less I see the breaks, the opportunity in the puzzle - the game becomes way too messy and chaotic. It's a compromise, however - play too passive and no combinations appear (or you run out of time and have to get to work). Quasi-ironically I play *faster* when I play less retentive.
On a larger scale, our political and business and economic systems are cranking up the noise level and taking control as needed. What's unusual is the level of ambient noise about, related to the Overton Window - we've got conditioned to pink noise, to a huge amount of distraction, and we don't much notice all the deflection that's going on - how much deception takes place underneath the surface.
Though we noticed this past year, as it broke all the norms, and got settled into our new normal - somehow the behavior that in 100 ways was iconoclastically set in direct opposition to much of what we regard as healthy, sane, civilized behavior was roundly panned - and then accepted as okay. (I believe the Ten Commandments lost 3 or 40.
And that's largely because of quiescence - our adaption to conditions, the level of stability we've already achieved means we're prone to accept even *more* shock into the system - while we've heard of chaos theory, we don't *expect* it applies to us, only butterflies and some weather somewhere. *Our* institutions are stable, it's only that moustached guy's somewhere else or back in time - the Great Depression's karma was handled by WWII, never more it shall be...
There's a full court press on now to control the message, as the Internet allows in even more bizarre ways. Our attention is beaten mercilessly with the irrelevant and highly contrived, and it's much easier to steal our car while we're distracted.
But somewhere in there is signal, useful patterns, a real gist of what's going on. Less and less do we know what the "right" thing to do is, but more and more we have to choose even our activities to fit our desired outcomes, to measure which ones might have some chance of personal or social change.
Raise Against the Machine - it's just bluffing, trying to get us to fold, to exhaust us, give up. But like the Commons or the Stock Market or any other shared resource, it's not nearly as hard to clean up and maintain as its partisan naysayers insist. But we do have to counter unscrupulous behavior with hard work, coherent vision, and that long parodied tag, "vigilance".
Well, scratch that - the cow's left the barn, so instead of "vigilance" plug in "much more comprehensive diligence". Less hope, more smart tools and persistence. And a bit of quiet and reflection. The noise is not the signal. The disruption is not where the real action is. We're in a magic show continuously distracted by the shiny object in the magician's distracting hand. The solution is not to become more distracted, to join in the noise.
Kesey used to say "step back, walk away". Lakoff notes our active participation just supports the framing we struggle against. Break the mold, do something different. Be unique, unpredictable, off the radar, yourself. The best way to fuck the noise is to tune into your own signal. What's going on?
**In the tradition of some cleavage pic or other celebrity nonsense "breaking Twitter". There's some interesting side discussion to be had of whether a man could have gotten away with this type of a post without hugely damaging his brand and business. In fact, there's some interesting discussion to be had about *what* is acceptable, and for what reasons, context, expectations, etc. We have a bifurcated and trifurcated society, and the rules are greatly changing, even if the methods of disruption haven't really changed that much since Genghis Khan and Martin Luther.and knocking down the vendor tables in the temple or landing a small boat in stealth on Playa de los Colorados. Expectation vs. outcome tied to a priori probability of success, perfected with lessons learned. William Burroughs used to practice being El Hombre Invisible, the art of walking brazenly through the center of town without actually being seen - noticed. These arts can't just be the domain of the bad-intentioned.