Archive for August, 2010

Lying in Virtuality

August 7, 2010

Talk!! Just writing the word down is a contradiction. But what a seductive contradiction.

Even in the parlance of the street, the contradiction is clear. “You talk the talk! But can you walk the walk?”

Philosophy is talk about talk. It is talk about the difference between “talking the talk” and “walking the walk”. In philosophy, all you can do is talk about it. In the actual world, you can shut up and walk away. But then, there is nothing left to say. The ones who get their power from talking are left speechless.

I just got up and walked away- to get a glass of water. You couldn’t know this without my telling you because we are not sharing real space and time. We are only virtually together.
I am here in my now and you are somewhere else in the future of my now. In a non-literate world, one without written words, we could only communicate when sharing space and time. Gradually, mechanisms developed for communicating across time and ultimately space, leading to written words. So now we can pretend we are sharing space and time and experience. That pretending creates a “virtual” world, a world of essences derived from walk-world but is still only in the talk-world.

In this virtual world, we also lie to each other. Of course, people can be deceptive face to face, but they can also be discovered or suspected. We can also be honest, face to face. But the written word is always a lie. That may seem a strong thing to say, so let me follow up on it a little.

“I just got up and walked away..” I wrote several lines above here. While that was a true statement, it was not the whole story. It was not everything I did or thought. It did not place my action in any kind of meaningful frame of reference. I left that all up to you. If I had set about to fill all that in, I would still be writing about the glass of water! To completely exhaust the subject, I would need to write forever for after I finished writing about the glass of water I would have to write about the writing about the glass of water and… Let’s not go there. Only computers are stupid enough to chase their own tails into logical oblivion.

So I employ my own internal editor to decide what to write and what not to write. Now, I am an honest fellow and altruistic in the extreme. So in the editing that I do while I am writing this for you, you can be assured that I am not forwarding my own personal agenda or lust for social prominence, or any other kind of lust. Trust me on this one!

One can communicate the real world only in a limited way. You can throw a stone only so far. But one can communicate virtually a great deal more. Even so, what is left out of the communication is greater than what is included. How the communication is shaped is determined by the internal editor of the communicator. That editor is subject to the conscious and unconscious impulses of the human being doing the communicating. Like all other human beings, the communicator lives in social setting that is, one way or another, a dominance hierarchy. Our communication skills have been shaped and honed not just to send signals about our environment, but also to facilitate our struggles for our desired place within that hierarchy.

Whenever we speak or write, we have as part of our agenda how that speaking or writing affects our struggles within the social hierarchy. And it is so much easier to lie when I don’t have to look you in the face! Trust me on this one!

I’m not sure all of this hangs together very well. Maybe you have something to say?