Tag Archives: ideas

Facebook – The New Opiate for the Masses That’s Making You Sick.

A week ago I announced I’d be leaving Facebook for a month to see how things changed in my life. This was after I did some research on how Facebook algorithms transform the way you behave online. Jaron Lanier’s ‘Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now’ inspired me to take the plunge. In his book, Lanier outlines that algorithms used on these platforms are constantly analysing your online behaviours, processing this information, and adapting your feed of information to maximise your engagement. Constantly evolving, these data-grabbing parasites find new ways to seize your attention and keep you locked in. It really works! And it’s especially effective against those of us who are compromised by our real life experiences. Let me illustrate by sharing a little of my own journey with the platform.

My Experience with Internet Addiction

Nearing a year prior to my decision to leave, Facebook had taken over my life. I was so invested in the platform that I spent most of my day getting attention, good and bad alike, as a mini kick to supplement my pathetic natural dopamine reserves. Thank you, brain, you’re so good to me. During this time, several significant life events had happened to me that knocked me off my feet. I had slipped a disk in the second year  of my degree which was causing a huge amount of pain and numbness in my legs. All the while I was working part time, hiding the fact from my boss and managing dicey personal relationships. I was cutting more and more real people out of my life as I slowly disconnected from reality. I had panic attacks, dissociation, health anxiety, and serious depression. I wanted to die, but I was also terrified of the idea of death. An unpleasant oscillation of negative emotions gripped me every day. As my real life started to implode inwards, my activities became deeply withdrawn and passive. I started to construct an alternative online persona, a confident, happy, egotistical version of myself that said whatever was on his mind. In short, a charming asshole. The feeling of having lost my voice in the real world translated to a booming, but meaningless online presence. I was clinging to control in the only corner of my life that I believed I had any left.

Little did I know at that time, Facebook, my little haven of safety, fantasy and control, was actually taking advantage of my vulnerability to keep me trapped in a cycle of depression, gasping for a breath of attention, but starved of real human connection. And these algorithms are designed to keep a person’s attention at the expense of the vulnerable. They learn the best ways to keep you online, and those most susceptible to addiction suffer the worst. How can we allow a platform that seems so innocuous and practically useful to systematically prey on the most compromised individuals in society? It’s simple, people just don’t know yet, and they really need to wake up from the stupor. Facebook has the chloroformed cloth to our face, and we’ve been under for long enough for us to forget who kidnapped us.

Would You Let an Organisation Build a Palace of Opiates in the Midst of Deprivation?

Do you know why a heroin addict takes heroin, even at the expense of his health, both physical and mental? He’s not lazy or a cockroach, he’s escaping his reality, and people who experience internet addiction on platforms like Facebook are doing the same. Groups and pages like ‘BPD meme Queen’ (BPD stands for Borderline Personality Disorder, a serious personality disorder that requires real world intervention) with over 120k likes, actively invites mental illness onto the platform, trapping more and more vulnerable people in the molasses of hollow experience.  Glorifying mental illness in the shape of memes and signposting it on Facebook is not healthy, yet it’s absolutely allowed on the platform.  I ask you, would you allow an organisation to hand out free opiates to vulnerable, struggling people who need help figuring out their reality? Would you let a giant corporation build a gleaming white tower in the centre of the most deprived area of a city, offering out free syringes for the people’s unbridled attention? I don’t think so. Yet we happily turn on our computers and let algorithms fuck with us all day long. Algorithms which become exponentially more effective, the more unwell we are.

The reality is this, you don’t need Facebook to stay in touch with people. Sure, it might be easier to use social media, it has all of your information in one place and it’s keeping it warm for you, but you do have a phone, you have messenger services, you can still send a text and ring people, even write letters (yes, we should do more of that especially). If we don’t put pressure on the networks to change, we’ll continue to experience all of these issues going forward. Facebook is making ill people worse over time, and in the best case, keeping people chronically not better.

Mark Zuckerberg – Building a Disease Free World on the Bodies of the Addicted

Mark Zuckerberg previously announced that, along with his partner Priscilla Chan, he would be donating 99% of Facebook’s shares to eradicate all human disease, founding the Chan Zuckerberg initiative in 2015. A lofty goal, but more importantly, one at odds with the very product used to fund this research. Addiction is a chronic brain disorder. It’s partly genetic, partly environmental, but according to the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a human disease. Many will argue that there are more serious and debilitating disorders, but that’s another debate and beyond this article. In its own right, addiction is a serious, debilitating brain disease that is being actively abused by Facebook’s algorithms, monitoring user behaviour, analysing the most visceral impulses of addiction, and using them against its users.

Addiction disconnects. Not only does Facebook help us unplug from reality, it does it under the guise of connecting the world. Why is this a problem? Facebook is funding its research against human disease with a technology that makes a serious human disease worse in the population. The very system that sells itself as making the world more social, more connected, is actually doing the opposite. Now, there are smarter people than me working at Facebook, of that I’m sure. Moreover, these people understand the technologies inside and out. So, given that the odds of Facebook engineers knowing everything I do and more, and yet not even advertising to the public better methods of networking, methods that are less manipulative and damaging to vulnerable people and the social fabric of society at large, what is the gig? Why isn’t this big news? Why isn’t this issue even on the radar at all? One can only imagine they have their very good, very legitimate reasons.

I’m sure.

Students! You are Prime Targets for Manipulation!

At this point many of you are probably wondering ‘what has this got to do with me? I’m not addicted. I’m just a student.’. And it’s a perfectly acceptable question to ask, but here’s the thing: As a student, you’re extremely vulnerable to Facebook’s manipulation. Students deal with higher levels of mental illness, depression and social anxiety, those being some of the most debilitating aspects for our social group. More than this, students are trying desperately to form social connections, especially when they first start out at university. Facebook and other social media platforms thrive on the insecurity of students trying to make their way on the social scene. We’re also chronically bored. Bored people find themselves spending inordinate amounts of time on these platforms because there’s nothing better to do. Procrastination, too, adds to student stress and burnout. Perhaps if we weren’t constantly having our essence sucked by horny virtual-dementor-algorithms, we’d have time to get some of our work done (I’m sure the least popular argument on this list). All of these factors make students prime targets for algorithms which want to keep you trapped in Zuckerberg’s Wonderland for as long as possible.

I’m not saying go cold turkey like I did but think very carefully about how you use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Communication, after all, is a two-way street. When we look out of the window, the things on the other side look back. The real question when using social media is who’s using who?

An Individualist Collective : Millennial Intent

The idea of a collective of individuals is probably a little difficult to digest, but contrasting ideas are often innovative and meaningful. Integrating and working with many different people with individual, unique backgrounds, purposes and minds is a revolutionary notion for a society which has become too samey, sluggish and boring.

Yes, we already have collectives, but they are homogenous, often espousing rigid, inflexible political mantras and violently ejecting anyone who does not agree with all of its overly simplistic, obstinate pillars of agreed wisdom. This was once religion, though now more often we see it in the far-left political sphere. More than ever, the idea of intolerance towards perceived intolerance (often just disagreement on truth), has become acceptable and even desirable on the left.

I ask, what kind of society do we want to build for our children and future generations? Is it a world filled with shame, inflexibility and intolerance to diversity of opinion (though often touting social diversity)? Or do we accept difference in human character, sexual orientation, race, religion AND thought? Nothing in nature is uniform, not even DNA, so why do we expect this to apply to ideas? The blueprint for life is built on variance, not similarity. Our thoughts, a product of our brains, and our brains – no two the same – a product of our DNA. Every biological blue print is different.

Here at Millennial Intent we appreciate variance in all forms, including the organic ideas in the organic mind. We connect, find value and meaning, through our differences. Like the magpie’s nest, we would have all the best, shiniest medallions of human thought and ingenuity, but unlike the magpie, we assort them to the benefit of humanity, building a narrative, a palace of ideas that everyone can benefit from.

We want a collective and to accommodate your ideas on our platform. We value independent thought. The kind of person who thinks about changing the world while they’re on the bus to work, or mowing the lawn on Sunday. We value active thought, inspired ideas that happen on the go. We make ideas meet, joining the dots, making the connections which make for fascinating reading world-shattering ideas.

There is no longer any diversity among the elites. The news outlets, social media platforms and Universities are against diversity, against you, the average working man or woman. Clever though you are, you are kept in check by these well established yet often difficult to see forces of negative pressure. You deserve better than this. We at Millennial Intent have started a grass roots movement for the disillusioned and depreciated. We want a platform that supports you and gives you a voice against these forces.

It comes as no surprise then that we see a lack of diversity amongst the political elites, media outlets, social media companies and Universities. All now (with but a few exceptions in news) can be described as left-wing organisations. Everywhere you see diversity crushed, a left-wing organisation harbouring virtuous slogans of social diversity has sprouted. It will be our job in this generation to pay close attention to the double standards, false virtues and evil deeds of these kinds of institutions. We have a moral duty to begin to call out these insidious tactics where we find them and replace them with honesty, integrity and cooperation.

Would a bird find its home if all the trees were the same? A flower is called a weed when it is numerous, and beautiful when it is rare. We value the summer because it only comes once a year.  Only a few have seen the Aurora Borealis in person and most say it is a singular wonder, a visual feast in the coldest regions of the world where the white snow frames its vibrancy all the better.

Be a flower amongst weeds. The first day of warmth after winter. An aurora on the edge of the world.

True diversity is rarer than you think.

Millennial Intent

Art by Zoe Outram Art

Write a letter, start a revolution.

Dear reader,

I was talking with a friend I met through a poetry group on Facebook the other day. I was deciding to leave the platform and, as always, he had a novel suggestion. I had asked for his details because I wanted to stay in touch with people off the platform. If you look at my previous post Facebook, what have you done to us?, I decided to leave Facebook for various reasons, ethical, behavioural and psychological. His idea was this: ‘Let’s write a letter to each other’.

I thought to myself how peculiar that was and was meditating on the idea a bit. Why have we stopped writing letters? Well, the clear answer is that the internet does it faster. Sure, the internet has revolutionised communication but is that a good thing?

We used to take time to think and reflect on all the amazing things that happen to us in the weeks and months. Carefully, we’d curate a picture of our lives that showed all the most meaningful experiences we’d had lately in the two-fold process of consolidating and processing it for ourselves, and sharing with others.

I thought about what it would be like to receive a letter that was not about doctors appointments or bills, written in an individual font, addressed to me, the person, not me, the body, number or consumer. I came to the conclusion that writing letters to close ones is probably the most counter cultural, revolutionary thing young people can do in an age saturated by technology, and so coked up on its own sophistication, it’s losing any meaning or value it might once have had.

So here’s my challenge to you. Write three letters this month. Really think about your life and what has happened. Share it with those you care about but don’t see often enough. Tell me in the comments below that you posted it and that you’re taking up this counter revolution against technology. We need to slow down and think at the speed of a letter.

Share this article with friends and family. We’re re-writing the future, one hand-written letter at a time.

Yours Sincerely,

MI

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The Age of Trickster: How Trolls are Saving the Internet

The internet troll, a harbinger of jibes, trickery and absurdity, has long been characterised as a perverse blockage, obstruction or intrusion on the normal flow of debate on the internet. But what if the troll was not a troll at all, but a voice of absolute necessity in times when internet discussions proliferate with censorship, vicious commentary backlash, and even harassment from the radical left and the suffocating clingfilm presence of political correctness?

Now let me be clear, when I use the term troll, I am only referring to the internet presence that will roll over and duck under the comments of opposition, the magicians who raise the diametrically opposed opinion from the grave, play devil’s advocate, obfuscate, deflect and reverse public discourse online. We’re not talking about the harmful and evil presences on the internet who will hurt people, find where they live and ruin their personal lives. These people are destroyers. They are not trolls, they are actively malicious, disturbed and dangerous people who quite honestly should be held accountable for their behaviour.

No, the internet troll is a trickster, a devil and a God, a master of reversal, everyone’s fool and everyone’s master. We’ve all been talking about serious topics online and then someone comes into the fray and blows a ridiculous, silly hole in the discussion and everyone is losing their minds ‘you must be a troll, nobody can be that stupid’ they say. The conversation is very often political and sensitive to many. Feminism, racial tensions, transgender pronouns to name a few hot topics. Then, out of nowhere, when all prevailing discussion is comforting, safe and settled, BANG! ‘Men deserve maternity leave, the woman should get back to her job after having the baby’, or ‘I don’t know why transgender rights are an issue, I’ve been called worse things than the incorrect pronoun for my gender’. The troll has dropped a payload that has wrecked serenity, bastardised the unwritten rules of civility and defiled decency of discourse.

Naturally, people react with contempt, with loathing and hatred, some with dissolution, some with confusion, but some will see it for what it is, disruption. And ok, most of the time, people don’t get it, they reject trolls as if they are merely flies to be swatted and disposed of, but is a fly so easy to kill? Famously we have all seen the fly in a movie or cartoon that totally destroys the set up. Take for example Looney Tune’s Bugs Bunny conducting a symphony orchestra in one of many episodes from the franchise, a grand and serious affair. One fly flits and buzzes about, so insignificantly, yet, so crucially. Bugs loses it and proceeds to smash cymbals, puncture drums and feverously swat at the tiny thing until the entire ensemble is in ruins and the show, completely derailed.

Image result for bugs bunny orchestra

‘Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II’ A single fly brings a pompous event to its knees.

It’s the trickster troll’s resilience, evasiveness and ability to wreak inadvertent catastrophe with nothing but a whisper (or a buzz) which deserves our respect and attention. And we should look back to where the trickster came from to find out why he does the things he does. Carl Jung, a pupil of the most famous Psychologist in history, Freud, came up with the archetypes, including the archetypal trickster. He states, using the example of ‘Mercurius’ (The Roman God Mercury) that the roman God embodies most strongly the trickster in ‘his fondness for sly jokes and malicious pranks, his powers as a shape-shifter, his dual nature, half animal, half divine, his exposure to all kinds of tortures, and last but not least – his approximation to the figure of saviour’[1]. The motif is prevalent and recurrent. Apollo the messenger was also trickster, the Native American Coyote, and the figure of the shaman who deals in dark arts have all come to signify the archetype.

Trickster permeates popular culture too. For example, Dr Facilier from Disney’s ‘Princess and the Frog’ is a trickster figure who manipulates spirits but ultimately ends up at their mercy when he fails to fulfil the contract he agrees to gain their command. Daenerys Targaryen from the phenomenally successful Game of Thrones series makes a deal with a female witch doctor, Mirri Maz Duur, her child’s life for her husband’s (Drogo) restoration from a fatal wound. The female witch doctor tricks Daenerys and she ends up with a shade, a dribbling fool and a baron womb. Mirri Maz Duur dupes Daenerys but ends up being burned by fire just before we witness an even greater miracle of birth, the three dragons, thought to be long extinct. In this way, though the trickster plays tricks, the new trick deployed always backfires and trickster becomes the one in the firing line.

Image result for daenerys mirri maz duur

Mirri Maz Duur tricks Daenerys into paying for Drogo’s life with her unborn child.

The trickster, Jung suggests, is also exemplified by the ‘’monkey tricks’’, the ‘state of affairs in which everything goes wrong and nothing intelligent happens except by mistake at the last moment’, the preface leading into a connection of trickster with the workings of politics[2]. Again, we have all witnessed our own disbelief at the sheer absurdity, pettiness and childishness of our political representatives, yet the world has not fallen apart and changes for the better still come into being despite the incredible nature of some of the debates we sometimes end up audience to on the internet or from our television screens.

So why does this figure recur and enter so many doors into the human consciousness? Jung argues the trickster is our primitive ‘shadow’, the antithesis of civilisation, a primal entity which antagonises against order[3]. And, it is this shadow that we must never forget though our want of civilisation paradoxically wills us to try.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the rise of political correctness across the west, a direct result of our loss of sight of our equalising shadow, the trickster. Remarkably Jung foretold this also in his discussion of the role of trickster in society:

‘The disastrous idea that everything comes to the human psyche from the outside a ‘tabula rasa’ (blank slate) is responsible for the erroneous belief that under normal circumstances the individual is in perfect order. He then looks to the state for salvation, and makes society pay for his inefficiency. He thinks the meaning of existence would be discovered if food and clothing were delivered to him gratis on his own doorstep or if everybody possessed an automobile. Such are the puerilities that rise up in place of an unconscious shadow and keep it unconscious’[4].

So the trickster comes to serve as a reminder of our core subconscious shadow, a force of chaos and instability which is a part of all of us, but that our consciousness will suppress and resist in the pursuit of civilisation.

But, given this necessity of push and pull, the shadow against the light, the light isn’t always good. In fact, when the light shines everywhere and the shadow disappears, we are left blind to our ugly side, but not enlightened or excised of it. As Jung predicts, we look out at a world lit up, anticipating that the shadows lurk outside and can be found, but we forget that the shadow is in us, and we cannot find him always without, but always within.

So, we hate our trickster trolls for their obfuscation, their trickery and ugliness. An era of political correctness asks us to excise the entities which will act against civility by censor and seizure of rights to speak for fear of offence, but if that is the state then why has the internet troll become a mythology of the internet, inextricably tied to it, enshrined forever? The further we punish trickster into hiding, the greater our need is for his presence. The internet troll no better embodies an age of civilisation gone too far. We need trolls more than we have ever needed them, but perhaps if we recognise how trickster impedes us from within, we will not continue to push him into hiding, only to make him stronger.

 

Bibliography

Jung, C. G. n.d. The Archetypes And The Collective Unconscious. 255 – 267

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A voice lost, a lesson learned.

Second year of University was the year things really started to slip. Immense, self-imposed pressure, relentless deadlines, and a growing realisation of the disparity between the actual and perceived experience of University life started spitting over the sides of the cook’s neglected pot. I, the cook, had taken a vacation from everything. I just up and left. Dissociation, I think they call it.

The thing about this dissociation, the really horrible thing about it is how it makes you become transparent. Ethereal, half made, half mad, and half dead, I ambled, no, groped about the campus most days with my headphones in. I watched people silently, wistfully hoping that I would be noticed, desperately afraid of the idea as well.

It’s strange when you are surrounded by so many people, but you’ve never felt more alone. Isolation is uglier when you see the opposite everywhere you go. Students laughing and talking together. I felt shame, and anger, and desperation. I felt like a dying tree with screaming roots. Frantically I flexed my feelers through baron earth. Water never came.

Unsettling above all was how I knew I was all of those things, all of those emotions, and yet, I couldn’t feel a thing. I remember attempting to will myself to cry on many occasions. I knew I needed to, but the rain just wouldn’t come. I sometimes imagined myself in tears. I imagined a version of myself who was screaming, projecting imaginary tears, a continuous white water rapid across an ugly creasing vista, but it was only an image. I could not will it into being.

When I came home. When I finally finished University for the second year, I cried for a week. I was a mess. The dam broke, the cork popped, the banks burst, the rain poured, the wave crashed. Out came a half year’s worth of pain in a week. It was miserable, but it brought relief.

My parents were an incredible support during that time. They helped me in ways I cannot explain. My father stayed with me and talked to me when I needed. My mother treated me in her own way, the practical way she knows by checking how my health was and seeing that I was fed. I am incredibly lucky to have a family like this, and I have not appreciated it fully in the past. Reconnecting with them like this has healed me and made us closer. Sometimes it takes a mighty fall to grasp the olive branch that was always there to support you.

After I was well enough, I started to bury my head in books again. I was looking for something and it was as a direct result of coming through the misery I had experienced. Feeling transparent, like a ghost, I had no voice. I had faded completely, become a waif with the power only to observe. I never wanted to feel like that again. It’s like dying without the privilege of blissful ignorance. A privilege (I imagine) the actual dead get to have. Nevertheless, being entombed in silence was revelatory. I knew that I never wanted to lose my voice again, and, in fact, I would spend as long as I needed to make my voice more powerful than it had ever been before.

It has been my journey in the last few months as I recover, to find my voice again. To speak up and thrust myself into the world where it was before so happy to let me exist as the whisper in the wind. We cannot be muted victims of our experiences, we must become criminally loud and make the world hear us when it would rather ignore us. From silent lowlands to cacophonic peaks, I will rally.

And here we are.

Millennials have had a difficult time finding their feet and their voice while the world looks to us in contempt or with indifference, but we have a responsibility to fight back. The litany of structures which impede us are massive. PC culture is pervasive. The left has come to experience the type of crushing silence that nearly destroyed my voice and have retaliated. It attempts to protect victims by censoring and silencing and views itself primarily as a commodity of victimhood.

I can’t allow that to be my destiny. I will take responsibility for my voice, I will push myself to be louder and make myself heard. Marcus Aurelius, the last of the five good roman emperors surmised: The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way..

  • I am not at the mercy of anyone but myself.
  • My voice is always my own.
  • I am responsible for the choices I make.

Now that we’ve arrived at this conclusion, get really damn loud about what you have to say. Let the world know you are here and that you mean to stay.

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Millennial Intent: We’ll be trying for victory, not victimisation.

This is Millennial Intent

Why are we here?

A prevailing sense of apathy, hopelessness and self-mediocritisation amongst millennials has persisted for too long and has been ratified by the media and the preceding generations. MI hopes that millennials will begin to reclaim their voices, their presence in this world, and their sense of pride in themselves. Aside from that broad aim, we are a platform for the discussion of ideas. We do not support Political Correctness or the idea of safe spaces and trigger warnings. Our content will explore some of the dark stuff as well as the light, but the point is that discussion breeds resolution. Censorship is the enemy of our generation, and if we want to bring ourselves into our place in society with power, dignity and kindness, we need to create places where censorship has no power. We hope we can at least contribute to this end by establishing an online community that supports these values and encourages individuals to claim back their often drowned out voices.

What do we do?

We write articles on millennial matters. We are starting off slow, but we want to pick up steam. This is a collective activity, but we want to be clear that we do not support collective mentality. Our articles are aimed at unique, insightful, thought-provoking topics from intelligent and independent authors. Is there a limit on scope? No! We write about anything and everything, but want to make sure it has value and intent towards the largest goal – making millennials mobilise. We want to kickstart hearts and minds with our material and that central idea underpins our creative works.

What can you do?

Because we value the individual millennial opinion, we welcome amateur writers, artists and content makers in general to get involved. We believe in collaboration and growth. If you have an idea that you want to share, we will listen. If you don’t agree with something someone else said, we will let you have your say. If you want to contribute, we will help you find a way to get into that position. What sets us apart is that this is about you, the individual voice in the crowd. So, keep that in mind. If you’re not used to writing, we can give you guidance. We want lived experiences, new insight, creative design. Learning how to put it into words is the last puzzle piece and if we like your unique insight, we won’t hesitate to give you the time and energy to get your words in order.

So, this is where we begin, and we’ll be posting more soon. Start following us to start reclaiming your voice. Let’s change minds and take back our power.

Millennial Intent.

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