Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Gridlock in DC and Evolving Patterns of Communication
I came across an interesting explanation of the
polarization and inability to communicate in the October, 2009 edition of ETC:
A Review of General Semantics. USA
Eugene Marlow in an article, “Beyond Electronics: A Speculation on a New Media Age,” says: “…every phase of our communications evolution has resulted in a particular shape that defines the characteristics of that society. For example, early man, relying primarily on body language and orality to communicate, evolved a round-shaped, circular society [because that made communication easier and more effective]. Those in the circle were part of the tribe; those outside, were not. Much of their architecture was round [consider
Stonehenge and the yurt]. Much in their environment was round: the sun,
the moon, the eyes, the mouth, a woman’s breasts, a pregnant woman’s
belly. It is nature overall—there are
not straight lines in nature.
“Early writing societies evolved a hierarchical, pyramidal shape, with those at the top in charge and everyone else beholden to the elite who could read and write. Writing dissolved the relative equanimity of tribal life and the rule of nature by creating the possibility of dictatorships and the rule of man. Writing created the dominance of the straight line found in many aspects of human life [but not in Nature].
“The [present] electronic age and the acceleration of information dissemination to close to the speed of light usher in a re-shaping of the hierarchical structure. The edges of societies’ structure are more malleable, and the direction of information flows in many directions, not merely from top to bottom. The desire for ‘cultural specialness’ and the desire to express in as many ways as possible that specialness—essentially the antithesis of the ‘melting pot’ concept of the early twentieth century—has become even more present in the second half of the twentieth” and in our own time.
To me, Marlow’s ideas suggest that we are participating in the dissolution of old shapes and patterns of social organization and their recombination in new ways such as what Marlow calls “360 – 24/7” that return us to some of the ‘worse,’ exclusionary aspects of tribal culture—360 degrees, 24 hours, 7 days a week. The fringes, what Marlow called the “malleable edges” of society are more active, more visible and their “desire for ‘cultural specialness’ and the desire to express in as many ways as possible that specialness—essentially the antithesis of the ‘melting pot’ concept of the early twentieth century [which gave cohesion, discipline and cooperation to American society]—has become even more present.” Thus the
’s present polarization and
inability to communicate. USA