If uncertainty is today’s central narrative are we commuting straight into the abyss?

Profound uncertainy and the abyssal commute.

Digital media is now presenting alternative narratives on a daily basis. Our thirty minute journey into work is peopled with emails, texts and that third domain – the five minute surf. This is the moment for our reach into the world. A glance at the BBC headlines, a sports story, an idea about someone en route to the character slaughterhouse, the latest political correctness assassination. The latest popular music obituary. This is how all our ordinary days begin, often without variety, though all with the potential to offer us different choices.

So whose voice is behind the narrative in our heads…? Who is controlling the information and what are they doing with it? What is the sea change point when these activities finally fail to form part of a normal day? Is this ‘normality’ terminal? Can the internet help us develop society? The answers to these questions may indicate where we are headed as members of the online community.

J D Salinger’s ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ examines what happens when we are left alone with our thoughts and a credit account. When there are little or no consequences for our actions. When we can laugh at the ridiculous and fantasise about the death or liquidation of the bad guy. When there is no obvious day of reckoning. Connection implies responsibility in the same way as all races have a winner and someone who comes in last. If we are somehow truly accountable for our actions, we might soon become more thoughtful and creative with them.

Kurt Vonnegut in ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ takes Holden Caulfield’s narrative a step further. What if all of this isn’t actually real? What if uncertainty is the default position for everyone? Truth is the first casualty of nuance. Fake News has now devalued truth to a state where everything starts looking like an opinion, and if it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks or believes, then what does matter?

So is the internet not educating us and actually just taking us for a ride? Is every day just a potential ten hour journey on You Tube? Does all knowledge carry the neutral quality of food without nutriment? Have we become consumers of bland content? Is it enough to mount the treadmill every day, and if not, what else should we be doing with our time here? Where does any of this leave us at the end of our days?

With the death of God comes Nietzsche’s death of grand narratives. Maybe we have finally reached this moment and if so, the next step is as important as it is unfathomable.

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