Part One is found here
In our contemporary age, we like to think of “web-surfing” as a much more involved or stimulating activity than just “channel-surfing,” a term (dating back to at least 1986) for television viewers who would scan their thousands of available TV stations without finding a program that even remotely (lol!) pleased them. Channel-surfing was a term that was used to incapsulate the boredom or ennui that inevitably rises when a person feels increasingly dissatisfied with one’s seemingly infinite options and becomes increasingly more rapacious for something truly entertaining or, ultimately, something personally gratifying.
Sure, that was TV, but Online… you have options, right? You can create, you can contribute, you can influence, you can affect. Yet do we?
How much of your time online is spent watching, spectating, observing, or consuming something? How much of your time online is spent actually adding to, supporting, constructing, empowering, or creating something? In either allotment, how much of those observations, spectacles, creations or contributions relate to things which actually have no direct bearing on the world outside of fiction or the internet, or on the necessities of life, or on your own pursuit of true happiness? How often are they relegated to the realm of secondary needs, creative fantasies worlds, and escapism?
We are not judging or belittling fiction, or anyones devotion to it, but let us have no misunderstanding that all fictions, images, and spectacles serve to divorce us from the reality of the world we exist in, and indulging in them is advisable only in the same way an otherwise delicious and comforting chocolate cake is advisable to the obese man or woman pursuing their ideal nutritional goals for their own sake. As Unists, we do not seek to ban images – or cakes, for that matter – but instead to encourage a process of universal self-actualization which will positively affect the individual and collective understandings of our true purpose(s), and our understandings of what separates, distances, or pauses the attainment or fulfillment of that purpose: meaning secondary pleasures or pursuits (entertainment, fictional worlds, dependance on social constructs, fantasies for the sake of fantasies), all of which are not in and of themselves corrupting, but merely tend to be compulsively or even addictively pursued for the sake of their distracting nature. Thus binge-watching, marathoning, and streaming are becoming an ever-more-easily and readily adopted form of daily “life” for people of all ages, across the entire world.
This understanding of images (and the distractions they award us) also functions as a rebuttal to the apparent relief we experience when we are told that the world of the past viewed books, magazines, and telegraphs as influences so equally, irredeemably corrosive to their societal frameworks as we are nowadays told that the internet, iPads, and texting are or will be to our own societies by our modern generation-gap-dwellers. This tendency to shake one’s fist at “kids these days,” should not convince or reassure us that juvenoia has been an ever present phenomenon: as a popular Vsauce video details, (with some highly civilized B.C.E. exceptions), this is a process and pattern which has become truly widespread only since the dawning of the Industrial Age, whereby the concepts of childhood, teenage years, and the progress or evolution of a child into an adult would be adopted and implemented across the board as wholly new societal constructs. (8:30 minute mark)
This same video, in detailing the cycle of generational discontent, establishes that, despite there being widely accepted theories of societal “turnings,”…
“A turning describes the way society will act, by either establishing, accepting, challenging or fracturing in lieu of established customs.” – Vsauce, Juvenoia (17:37, but begin at 17 minute mark for context)
…the distribution and availability of media and information has become so much more widespread, and thereby much more influential in shaping a generation, or even inter-generational communities, than it has ever been in the past: (at the 13:30 mark) “Johnson points out that in his time, Dickens was only read by 0.25% of his country’s population, while today innovative shows like ‘The West Wing’ or ‘The Simpsons’ easily reach twenty times that proportion.” And, based on the proliferation of internet capable devices and their availability, this proportion and thus population of audiences who are either similarly educated, entertained, captivated, or agitated will only increase, despite the seemingly perpetual fracturing nature of where information is received online.
But there is opportunity in this discontentment:
“Strauss-Howe’s theory, if true, tells us that this will be an era where society will band together and build institutions from the ground up in the face of crisis. It’s not clear what that crisis will be, but if their theory has predictive power, the climax of that crisis will occur in 2025.” – Vsauce, Juvenoia, 19:38 minutes
Sounds about right. And if fundamental yet ambitious social movements such as DiEM25 are any indication of the validity of this theory and its projection, we are building Unism as a movement at exactly the right time.
But what still of this contemporary shift, that we ourselves and most of our readers will be able to personally identify with, from an infancy or childhood based around television, to a world ever-more dominated by the internet and its vast cataloguing dimension? Is this not an evolution of how we interact with media?
No longer constrained by the perceivably limited outlets available to viewers via television news and media stations and producers, the internet seemed to offer the prospect of an unlimited, unconquerable frontier. Yet even with the vast expanse that is the modern internet, will we not inevitably, as human beings, come to this same conclusion of indescribable longing and disaffection? Are you not also left with the unshakeable realization that, despite the seemingly endless horizon of online content and programing – be they Hollywood blockbusters, Netflix originals, or intimate vlog diaries – just as the channel-surfer, we will come no closer to understanding how we, as individuals, personally fit into this world of ours?
As long as we are deceived into believing that by merely consuming we are, in fact, participating – in life, reality, or “virtual reality” – we will never be able to fully realize our true purpose in life. As comforting as it is to assume the role of the consumer, the commentator, the spectator, we introduce Unism as an Escape from Escapism.
We are building a world and moral universe whereby fulfillment is praised over docility. Where production and productivity – not rooted in our current misdefinition of “work” (2:12), but in the act of creating and constructing, and in the art of doing -are measured not by relentless growth and unsustainable expansion, but by their relative worth to the community and individuals therein.
We are moving forward towards total global coexistence, as total global interdependence has long ago cemented itself. What is holding us back from this goal will become clearer over the coming months of blog posts. Just know that you are not alone in your feelings of anxiety, desperation, alienation, or even tendencies towards mindless violence. These are symptoms evermore prevailing in our age. This transformation will be a difficult yet rewarding process, but luckily it begins with your own self-liberation and self-actualization, something which we can assure you, personally, will be hard-won, but incredibly well-deserved.
If you still think you are a ghost on the internet,
we cannot prove otherwise. But ask yourself: if tomorrow you were to disappear entirely, what identity would be able to be conjured up from the distant echoes of your thousands of keyboard strokes, tapped out in silence? What would your reputation, your legacy be, were the infrastructure of electric power and fiber optics to collapse completely overnight?
By following Unism, you will discover a life whereby the internet is an nothing more than a tool and manageable source of enrichment for your life, not a substitute, conduit, or proxy for life itself. The internet may seem like a safe, controllable space of comfort and reassurance. Yet perhaps in your dark moments of self-reflection, you have felt that there is a life much greater and much more visceral out “there” – we, as Unists, seek to embody that world and make it accessible to everyone. And luckily, it all starts with You.
Follow us on twitter @TheUnists for more updates and information. We will be right there with you.