3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
When doing the obligatory preparatory research for this post (sometimes referred to as "procrastination"), I ran into some old timey television commercials. I wanted to see them in order to get a sense of where the old times where at, and how much they contrasted to the world of today.
To my surprise, my research showed that the world of 1950/60s seemed to be dominated by sex, drugs, kids and breakfasts. Or, as it is also called, traditional family values.
I did what any enthusiastic non-researcher do: I instantly shared my results on Twitter. And the following discussions, thoughts and lines of inquiry were far more interesting than what I originally had in mind. Conversations about communication, underground signal systems and gay rights. In that order.
Conversations among human beings sound human. Unless they don't.
A continuation of the logic of a few channels talking to a large number of people, is that a large number of people start to think in the same way. Not in identical ways, mind, but in similar enough ways that they can be predicted, controlled and marketed to.
So if these commercials were anything to go by, the world was dominated by families where the main activity of the day were breakfast and snacking. Mostly cereals and processed chocolate, by the looks of it, and there were no question in anyone's mind about who did the kitchenwork. Or that the only proper way to go about life was, indeed, the family life.
A life where drugs (mostly sugar, cigarettes and alcohol), kids and breakfasts (with drugs) were the stuff that made up the essence of always.
I'm now imagining you're thinking two things. Two questions. To answer the first: kids do come from somewhere. And to answer the second: no, not all actually existing people were like that.
But there were enough force behind the thought that family life was the way to do life that the notion of doing something else became a non-option. Of all the possible ways a human can live, the happily married family (wo)man were the first and foremost in the heads of communities, politicians and marketers.
You can imagine that this was less than optimal for those who did not desire the happy family life. Like, for instance, homosexuals, who for obvious reasons don't quite view the institution of heterosexual marriage as quite the thing. But in the lack of alternative visions, and moreover of ways of communicating with those who shared these alternative visions, many were forced into submitting to these present imperfect images of the perfect.
One of the side effects of the channels of communication becoming more abundant, is that the number of alternative lives (life alternatives) have increased. Not due to anything changing in the human being - I find it hard to believe that humanity have become any more horny, depraved, desperate or deranged recently than it has ever been - but due to the fact that people can talk to each other rather than with and through the mediated image of what an ideal citizen/consumer ought to be. Suddenly, it's both possible and within reach to do something else.
Whatever that else might be. There's more than one way to be human these days, and more ways than one to have a socially acceptable conversation. Conversations between persons who sound quite more human now than the recorded voices from the 50s and 60s.
Which is why I'm going to end today's session with this link. Not only to justify the title, but also to give you something to feast your thoughts on - the difference between what is supposed to be and what is.
I'll see you again tomorrow for part four. Or head over to Les for more options of resistance. Or to Eli for some humanity.