That leads me to my next thing: I’m taking an online course on how ideas spread, and a major theme is how people pride themselves on individuality, but act based on social conformity. Again, take a look around tomorrow to watch this in action. Better yet, I recommend the Dark Mirrors episode titled “Nosedive” (Season 3). That’s the one where people have software installed in their eyes that allows them to rank people based on a 5 star scale, and society is built on high your social ranking is. It resonated with me because we’re doing that already. People are addicted to social media, and have turned it into a game of who has the most unicorns and rainbows in their life. I was nodding while I listened to today’s lecture on what goes viral, when the professor talked about how the popularity of cars depends on what the people around you are driving, because I have personal experience with this. The last time I bought a new car, everybody I knew bought a new car within six months. The only person who didn’t was somebody who happened to buy their car at the same time I did. Rick and I were dumbfounded by it. Then again, I’m the type of person who believes that if everybody else is doing it, then I need to consider if it’s really best for me. I guess everybody decided that if I finally caved and got a new car, then they were behind. But there you have the same principle at work, because I also learned that it only takes 5% divergence to propel the remaining 95% of a group to do something different. My point: for people not to care, they certainly do. Just look at the fact that Fifty Shades Freed was number 1 at the box office, despite the fact that it got terrible reviews, and everybody I heard talking about it said it was an awful book. And yet, they followed the herd straight to the theater, when there are plenty of other books and movies out there that don’t suck.
That brings me to my final issue: we go to great lengths to put on airs that we’re better than everybody else, but we don’t respond to other peoples’ achievements. Why are people faster to respond to tragedy than to triumph? When Chloe died, I was overwhelmed with responses. When I published The Earthside Trilogy last week, I didn't even hear crickets chirping. Yes Facebook, I’m talking to you. I did run pre-release sales and even a free day last Wednesday, but it was only offered here and on Twitter. The Earthside Trilogy hit #20 in scifi Metaphysical & Visionary fiction last Wednesday, so thank you to the readers who took advantage of that offer! So ignoring it didn't make it go away, but it did make the readers rise to the top of the bunch, and show me where to direct my efforts to reach those readers. I tell my author friends not to waste their time on Facebook, because it’s a good place to be ignored. Unless something bad happens, of course. Oh, you poor thing. Let me comfort you while I’m above you and it makes me look good (or rather, not look like an a**), but once you rise, I’m “too busy.” True friends want to share joys as much as (or even more than) their pain. But I guess feeling like you’re better than others is more important than relationships. I'm busy too, you know, and I know who's worth a response now (hello, Twitter).
That “Nosedive” episode of Dark Mirrors was an accurate and uncomfortable reflection of reality. All of the episodes are, but this one in particular hit me. Aren’t we ranking who and what deserves our attention all the time? Aren’t we evaluating thoughts, things, and actions on how good it makes us look or how much better it makes us than everybody else (online and offline)? The more electronically connected we get, the less personally connected we are. I have a general rule that I don’t follow people I see on a regular basis on Facebook, because they quit talking to me once they started following me. Now they have to have a conversation with me to get the gossip!
Oh well. As one character said in “Nosedive,” a lot of people don’t like honesty." Yet truth is freedom, and without that, it's all fake and we can’t really have relationships. Our inner circles are shrinking, and the outer circles are becoming more superficial and fake. Where’s it going? I don’t know. But if it keeps going this way, then Valentines Day will only exist online, and not in reality anymore. Then what happens to the retail industry? Hmm. There’s a dark mirror for you.
It's all so silly. I think I'll go be that "radical non-conformist" that I've accused of being again. Don't worry, I won't buy a car. I like having money in the bank more than new wheels in the parking lot right now. Not that anybody cares. We're all too busy being unique - just like everybody else ;)
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.