Twitter’s removal of millions of fake accounts reminds us that not everything is what it seems. The internet is full of bots, replicating humans, even programmed to act more human than the humans themselves.
We too are conscious automata, no more authentic than the droids themselves. People are just savvy editors. We present our best selves online to increase our self-worth make other people envious.
Artifice defeats authenticity in all chess matches of the irreality we crave.
Yet, the push to be at our best could be the resolution to our proposed mediocrity. Why shoot ourselves down when a quasi-celebrity lifestyle sits at our fingertips.
Fame happens to the mobile holder. Stuck in a ludic loop, we are the host of our own Truman Show. Attention captured, republished, and released. We’re neither superior to bots nor are we consciously behind.
This week’s New Yorker cover is a doozy, from no other than artist Kadir Nelson. The magazine interviewed him about the work and why he prefers the slow process of oil painting in the digital age.
I love the oil medium. It’s timeless and has been used for hundreds of years. I want to create artwork that will live outside of the printed medium or the computer. I like to think that I’m creating fine art that happens to work as a cover for The New Yorker.
The brain is an empty void. It waits to remember until we give things meaning. Otherwise, it clings to the instincts of the amagdyla for its main sensory perception.
Thankfully, our brains are large processors. It knows that survival depends on exchanging information with others. Information is quid pro quo.
But the problem with oral communication is all the selling. Through rhetoric and persuasion, one can rise to have incredible influence. This is, unfortunately, how we got the Kardashians. We make stupid people famous.
Modern life narrows down our perceptions. Praising others, let alone mimicking them, makes us blind to our own self-worth.
The thrill of knowing is internal. It reminds us that we are more interesting than the role society gives us. Nothing means anything if we can’t float with nature and find the question.
“Don’t shy away from discomfort. Enter it, especially if it’s a potential door to progress. When I picked up those paint supplies as a suddenly jobless thirty-year-old with three young kids and without enough savings to coast, it was a very uncomfortable move. The left side of my brain was screaming at me to go find a job, any job, before I ran out of money. It was screaming at me to stop screwing around with some ridiculous art form at which I had no experience. But my right brain was telling me otherwise. I knew it was right regardless of the logic that told me it was flippant and dangerous. The truth was that I cared deeply about what I was doing and that the greatest danger lay in going down another wrong path and finding myself stuck in another rut at forty.”
Whether you set the route or leave it open-ended, you can discover things along the way.
Constraints produce their own magic. They make you innovate based off what you have to play with. But so too do indefinite destinations.
Out of curiosity blooms everything.
The more we know, the more we want to know. We permit our heuristic temptations to guide the discovery process. The rush to fill ignorance with self-knowledge makes us feel alive.
The world is more like a playground than a camp. It begs us to take more information than we need. But in borrowing its widgets, we have to reciprocate to ensure what we put out or reinvent comes back to enrich nature itself.
“What has prompted me to write over the years is the hunch that something needs to be told and that, if I don’t try to tell it, it risks not being told. I picture myself not so much a consequential, professional writer, as a stop-gap man.”
Called the “Prophet of Dystopia,” Margaret Atwood is one of the most influential literary voices of our generation. In her first-ever online class, the author of The Handmaid’s Tale teaches how she crafts compelling stories—from historical to speculative fiction—that remain timeless and relevant. Explore Margaret’s creative process for developing ideas into novels with strong structures and nuanced characters.