Escape From the Quantifiable

 

When did everything become so crisply defined? It hasn't happened overnight, yet a movement of cordoning everything off under black, white, evil, heroic, has continued apace since the post-dial up internet days — and perhaps more poignantly since social media became ubiquitous.

 

Couple that with the blistering effects of ultra-capitalism and decades of positioning the proverbial all mighty dollar as 'The All Mighty' and you have a recipe for the problematic society in which we now live. This ailment plagues the Western World as much as the East, the left wing as much as the right wing.

 

When the media utters shrieks of "populism" in the wake of Brexit — simplistically and perhaps mistakenly equating it to the rise of Donald Trump, it misses the real thread running like a poisonous serpent, through the veins of our post post modern world. It's the either-or attitude fueled by the internet's checkbox mentality that misses necessary nuance — to its own detriment.

 

The proverbial grey area is too boring for many of this time who don't have time to explain their thoughts in over 140 characters, let alone to ponder the intricacies of social, political and policy issues. Instead it's all: angels or demons — the Wall St. fat cat one percenters or 'we the people.' It's too messy to imagine that not all Wall St. suits are 'bad' — some are honest, hard-working people taking care of families. Not all of them started out making more money than an average person could imagine earning; some started with little and worked their way up.

 

This is of course beside the point. Elsewhere, there are those enraged by society's seeming rejection of adopting the term gender fluidity into their everyday lexicon — to site another common example of the zeitgeist. This seems a brave attempt to stop the world from classifying individuals as male/female, masculine/feminine. The vehement goal is to get society to wake up and 'allow' people to be fluid in gender and forbidding 'the ignorant' from calling anyone 'male' or 'female.'

 

Yet, to take two beautiful recently deceased pop culture examples... Prince and David Bowie never asked permission to be whoever they were, even before they received mass-appeal international icon status. They were unique artists who defied classification and blurred gender lines. They just existed — secure in themselves, not requiring a special designation or stamp of approval from society. Fuck society — their actions (not their words and mandates) said!

 

Can you imagine if those two emblems of gender-neutrality had demanded to be called gender neutral or whatever the parlance at the time was in the '70s and '80s? They would have robbed themselves of their tremendous human power to just BE — without permission or the requisite officiating labels — ambiguously beautiful and existential.

 

I'm not trying to point fingers at any one group — the point is that groups can ultimately be problematic, and quantification is a digital society ill.

 

Passion is a beautiful thing when it is used to positive ends — as Prince and Bowie were testament to. Equally, rallying for a cause and then backing it up with a fruitful solution represents the best in life — a political party that, in coming up with a plan (rather than riding out the 'against' or 'anti' campaign), embraces all and drops the identification with that one party. But demanding classification and quantification and setting the lines between such designations alight with raw anger and quite frankly 'other-disdain' seems a symptom of the left-brained internet gone wild.

 

How I long for a mysterious existence where people aren't Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Blairites, Corbynites, Leave or Remain, married, married-with-kids, single, gay, straight, bi, gender-fluid, right, wrong, black, white, Asian... Words and labels are given too much power — action and presence somewhat back-seated.

 

On a separate but connected matter, remember when daydreaming — sans distraction —  was the norm? Not looking at a clock on a mobile device or checking messages or status updates, just existing in the present with all its certainty of an uncertain as-of-yet future.

 

There is something so beautiful and utterly empowering about living in the mystery of just being — moment to moment from wherever you are at the time — that it defies words and classification and as such brings people together in a yolk of luxurious uncertainty — and there's no 'tick box' for that.

 

 

 

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© 2020 Shana Ting Lipton. All Rights Reserved.