the conversation

New Worlds, Feeling Good, and The Biology of Free Speech.

I’m bringing you a piece this week that is
I guess.
A little bit less fact
And a little bit more opinion
Really just less referring to the experts,
and the research,
Just me telling it how it is.

Turns out that if you ask the right question…
then a big majority of voters will say they’d prefer to be doing something for future generations
rather than just going in for a short term fix.
That’s what they say.

And that’s great because that’s what I’m looking at here.

And I guess I can write this now, because
whilst it’s taken me all of this time to work out that
I was suffering from Depression, Stress, Anxiety…
Luckily for me
I had access to a  good set of tools to help me out,
mates and mentors and more
and here I am!

So I’m going to talk about the causes of depression,
the importance of environmental or cultural factors,
and about the way our grand narrative distracts us from
seeing and dealing with the real causes.
Going to explain the dangers of mind hacking
and the way that the use of censorship works only to exacerbate the problems we face.
And I’m going to introduce the idea of a new conversation
that is emerging out of the ruins of our existing narrative,
This is a conversation that seeks to acknowledge our deepest fears, to uncover common goals, and that seeks to find agreement. 
This is a conversation that we may all join, community over division,
and to which people are turning in great numbers.
Its importance shouldn’t be discounted.
And its a conversation that requires honesty and openness and ultimately free speech

To start with a minor bugbear for me 
but with bigger implications.
Its my own worry,
to some extent,
about what I put out,
I worry that concentrating
on what I found distressing, and depressing
might just go on and depress everybody else
if I bang on about it.

I can see the point
And that’s not really what I have in mind.
I’m optimistic about what we can do in the world.

So Instead
Maybe I should concentrate on how the world is getting better?
The idea being that it if we only hear good news
the world could be a happier place.
Anxiety – gone.
And every thing fixed.
If you want some good news
then that’s ok,
the conversation has started.
But hey I don’t agree
that we stick to only the good stuff.
I don’t think it works that way.

We need absolutely
to talk about these things.
the darker side.

We are herd animals,
prey animals.
Stronger in groups and communities
than as single activists.
We are designed to react to stress.
designed to feel anxiety
To hear our instinct talking to us.
Telling us maybe how we have strayed too far from the crowd.
or being told to get back in there.

And maybe there is an irony to this
that while we may feel alienated and alone
none of us actually are
on our own in this.
We are all in it
together. 🙂

Can’t help myself with a few facts and figures,
Because all of them say that mental health issues in the UK
and the in West more generally
are getting worse.
An epidemic.
Like the system has taken on a life of its own
And we are getting cast out, left behind.

I question who the system is working for
when Anti-depressant prescriptions
used to treat Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,
Panic-Attacks and Depression.
have increased
more than doubled
from 31 million to 65 million
in the decade from 2006 to 2016.
And only 1 in 3 people who say they suffer
from one of those disorders
say they are getting treatment for them,
that’s a lot of suffering.

Now, we can question whether this is simple over prescription,
Or better diagnosis,
of a problem that has always been there
but I think the figures reflect what I’m seeing.
My personal experience.

What you cannot deny
Is that this is suffering.
And as the doctors might have said
is caused by low seratonin levels…

So let’s to stick with this for a while
are the drugs doing the job?

The drugs,
working on the theory that
depression is caused by low seratonin levels,
will help. No doubt.
They have their uses in individual cases
But how much?

It turns out that one of the ways of measuring depression
is to use the Hamilton Rating Scale.
a questionnaire designed to rate severity of a depression
by probing mood, feelings of guilt,
suicide ideation, 
and agitation or retardation,
It takes is anxiety, weight loss, and somatic symptoms.
And it scores from 0 to 51.
The drugs
on average
effect a movement of no more than 1.8 points
on this scale.

So if medical theory
seratonin replacement
can only account for such a small improvement
we might well ask what causes the rest of this 51 degrees
of suffering…

And when we ask that we find many environmental factors have a part to play.

And we find Sleep, for example.
A better sleep pattern,
will move the scale,
on average 6 points…

The causes of depression, anxiety etc,
bear with me
for just putting it out there,
are found to be
feelings of a lack of control,
feelings of isolation,
an inability to see a clear future.

These are environmental stresses.
Causes that relate to your belief system,
To your cognitive landscape.

The problem is not that your brain is malfunctioning.
Lacking in the right chemicals.
The problem is that the way you are living life,
makes no sense to your biology.
This is your billion year old biological self telling you to change things up.
Your behaviours stimulating the chemical balance.

All of us.
These days all of us
are living with elevated levels of stress
and feeling the alienation, isolation, loneliness
that its expressed through
and if we don’t talk about it
If we push it under the carpet
There’ll just be more isolation,
more alienation
and more suffering.

Whilst we may be out in the open,
exposed and vulnerable
out on the plane,
there is safety in numbers
In belonging – 
We’re not alone.

This works out to me as an argument for free speech…
extrapolates out into the bigger conversation

It’s like having to approach any subject
that might scare the kids is suddenly impossible…
or maybe any subject that will offend somebody.
Like this stuff should be hidden away.
Cos it
Might scare the kids!

Well maybe that’s the point.
Maybe that is what our kids need…
Maybe what we need?
Maybe they are crying out to be given some level of responsibility for their own lives.
And maybe they’ll be able to do a better job than we’ve done!
Maybe we won’t scare them,
and maybe they will just find mechanisms to deal with it.
How old were the fighter pilots in WW2?

Apologies if you see a hint of Nietzsche in the following but
Maybe our job,
as parents,
ought to be to introduce our children to the fear,
to challenge, to organisations.
gently of course,
and in balance,

but let them fight in the playground,
work out their hierarchy unsupervised
Let them understand who they are,
Let them shoulder some responsibility.

Let them experience risk,
and loss, and triumph
and learn to deal with it all,
Not easy
but it comes with a rite of passage.

To protect them from this and that
is to starve them of emotional growth,
and the means to thrive.
It is mentally unhealthy.

Nietzsche, and Jung, Thomas Campbell and Jordan Peterson
all welcome this journey,
it is a fundament of human existence,
They embrace the  darker side of it.
And from that, Emergence,

And I worry that if we only kept to hearing good news
we might just be creating a New Stepford,
in which we all fall prey to stupid, governing algorithms.
In which we are kept dumb, and lacking.
Farmed beasts…

The Stepford Wives is a 1972 novel by Ira Levin.
in which a young mother,
and photographer begins to suspect that
the frighteningly submissive housewives
in her new idyllic neighborhood
may be robots created by their husbands.

But maybe people need to feel good,
or they won’t listen…
Could Stepford be the way forward?
I’m saying No!
Stepford would be a living hell.

We can not possibly hope to move forward
without questioning
where we are?
And without discovering what is wrong with now.
Creative results flow from critical thinking.
And that means taking a long hard look at the bad stuff.

My fundamental message is one of hope, I hope,
but through discovery,
not blindness.

But you know maybe Stepford isn’t so far away.
Already we are aware of the dangers of social media.
We know how easily addicted we can be,
and distracted and manipulated.
It is real and it is happening now.

And It would be easy to ask Google, or facebook
or whoever your latest down with the kids app happens to be from
and we ask them to concentrate their algorithms on showing us only good news.
And there are people screaming out for this kind of tactical censorship,
social engineering,
as if its their right to be protected from pain,
to live in some form of Disneyland.
And we’ll come to this…

Just remember for now,
that that is us asking
we really are in control.
We can have what we wish for!

And that is why debating some of the most demanding philosophical questions needs to be done right now.
That is why we need to become part of the conversation.
Learn to row… productively.

Essentially, we need to be careful what we wish for
So ought we really be choosing Stepford?
A protected. cossetted life.
Immunised against pain

Is that our path to happiness?
Our way out of depression?
I think not!

But how can I know this
How can I be so sure?
How can we know, anything
in this world of fake news and flooded by information?
Let alone make decisions that will shape our futures
and our children’s futures
How can we decide the way forward?

I sit here writing,
sat in the sunshine.
nearly 20 degrees Centigrade,
in February,
a British Winter
not right.
And I know that depression
is on the up,
and that the robots are on the way,
and that we are  at best facing a future of human irrelevance,
a future of weak masses versus strong elites
and at worst a total systemic collapse,

And for now this is
against a backdrop of political chaos,
that’s Brexit in the UK,
and a national emergency in the US
what with Trump’s Wall,
and an apparent rise of racism, nationalism,
and plenty of other right wing isms
reported across a media
which can’t be trusted
one way or another.

There’s perpetual discord…
like Maleness is bad.
and Gender is relative.
Like Refugees are good,
and migrants bad.

We are passively divided up.
And conquered.
Deep State,
Deep global State
versus the people.

This is a time in which even the democratic process
only serves to create difference.
it’s a time when we expect to express ourselves
to express our billions of years
of evolutionary complexity
and we find that complexity is compressed
and squeezed through
a lens of consumerism,
and economic utility

it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God

We know this is myth
that whatever we need
can be found
through the consumerist god,
through economic growth
but we continue to follow the rules
and we find that
even our best efforts,
get turned against us
only serving to accelerate
the destruction of our environment
and ourselves… our mental health

That’s how we know its not working,
and we should be listening,
and those that have heard
want to make a difference…

But we also know 
how we have evolved to be cognitive robots.
susceptible to, and product of, social manipulation

We know that much of who we are,
much of what defines each and every
single individual one of us…
much of what drives our behaviour and
and our thought,
or our notion of our self 
is in danger of being hijacked.

How social media might just be a reflection of our everyday selves
a mirror of all that is good in humanity
but how it has evolved, to go bad.
As will any survivor in a competitive system
that goes unchecked,

We are fed a mythical landscape…
Of the algorithmic choosing.
Chosen by AI,
in the name of convenience,
and we are shown which product to buy,
which opinion to follow,
which facts to believe.

And this is the world we inhabit,
Our own personal landscape
In which we struggle with mythical foes,
for mythical rewards…

And yes 
The manipulation has always been there,
This we have evolved with,
we have become accustomed to
and that may be where the lives of heroes are spent
and where you are prepared to spend your life
…in that mythical landscape.
but now
things are moving on apace,
We control the mind control.
The mind hack is official.

And we know Facebook, Social Media has never been free.
We pay for our entertainment
and convenience
with information about our behaviour.
And yes we have been warned,
about what will happen if we don’t take care.

Social media.
Right Now.
Not a joke.
Not a maybe.
Not on it’s way.
Social Media right now is controlling
how we think.
Controlling what we see.
what we hear.
our aspirations
And our morals,
It is forming us into groups
and into divides.
Telling us who to vote for…
And it can only get worse!

At the same time,
Our innocence is
getting stripped away.
Layer by layer.
Like we have seen our own nakedness,
As eve has eaten of the apple,
and we’re getting cast out of the garden.
Clutching ragged leaves in front of our exposed bodies,
cowering cold and naked under the heavens,
the rain blows, the sun scorches the earth, the storm rages and
We are as lost children cast out.

And we reach out for guidance…

For thousands of years philosophers have talked
of the importance of “knowing thyself”

The answer
What can I do?
Is Know Thyself

Without that
There is no conversation
There can be no evolution.

And this knowing is born of hard work.
We are all sleepwalkers.

But we are all also
What makes us human is to
be able to switch our switch our state,
we are masters of this,
quickly and completely,
as and when we need to…
As though we are constantly in fear of a trap,
and always in any space
search first for an escape route.
Position our chair against the back wall.

Why not in our cognitive space?
Map out the mental landscape we have been living in
up to this moment,
We take a look around at our existing landscape,
get to know it,
so that we can redraw it.
Then, as though waking out of a dream.
The next step,
can be fully conscious.

It’s a superpower,
that let’s you observe
the chaos around you,
to see blind robots chasing outdated prizes,
chemical puppeteers pulling human heartstrings,
and to see your own part in it.

You are the explorer.
Where you’ll discover new wonders of the world,
And you’ll meet those on a similar journey.

And that’s a skill.
Probably one of the greatest skills you’ll ever get,
however you get it.
And once you learn the process that allows you to know yourself.
no-one can take that away.

I’d instinctively already answered the one truly serious
philosophical question set by Camus.
It was never so hard for me that I didn’t want to live.
I was simply asking how I might feel better.

The starting point for me was to ask
“what’s the point?”

Find that question for yourself.
The question that drives you
And follow it.

For me, there were the deep questions
that I had to find answers for.
Questions that philosophers
had been arguing over for years.
Sort of a natural home.

I already knew
that much of what I could come up with
was already there
but no problem.
That meant shortcuts
new directions,
and questions I hadn’t even considered.

And instinctively
through this focus
I found my narrative beginning to shift.
And by that I mean,
that the way that I saw the world was evolving.
I was remapping the way I saw my world,
and through that the way I saw myself.

And as the answers came
I was getting to a position where my choices
would make a difference.
This felt good.
I could choose my path.
I could see where my next step would take me.

I was waking up and
I realised that the key to this
was to in taking responsibility for myself.
I could take responsibility for my thoughts
my actions,
my behaviours…

So simple
but such a breakthrough
And also more than a little bit scary.

It seemed to me
that deeply rooted
in all of the science that we rely on,
to tells us who we are,
and how we function,
the science that we hang our hats on
in that
there is ultimately a message of free will,
of choice
and of ultimately
a better future.

The problem with that
of course is that it doesn’t come without effort
or without pain.

Consider that all of your hard work,
all of your struggle to make a life for yourself
has been worse than a waste of time.
It has been a childlike
search for acceptance
In a hormonal soup
an electromagnetic eddy
transient form
out of the chaos.

You have been tricked out of your life
and out of the lives of your children.
by age old myths
that would blindly lead you
into extinction.

Bad stuff?
Or opportunity for change?
Certainly that kind of thinking explained to me why I felt so bad…

For me, it works to confront the fear,
to hear the subconscious,
to listen
to view our habits,
and to take control of these things,
or at least to acknowledge them,
and to be able to push them away if need be.

And We need this focus
Because without it we won’t be able recognise ourselves,
and if we are unsure of who we are,
and of how we operate
then how can we join possibly the conversation.

The point is that the darkness,
the journey, the discovery needs to be there,
the darkness is what shows us the light
and understanding that,
that’s where the road to freedom begins.

It may seem a lonely path at first but 
there are many others on the same path.
This is global.
People waking up everywhere.

But here is the thing
You are in a trap, but
You have a choice…
And the only way out of this trap is to exercise that choice.
Do nothing and your future will be left to the robots.
Your kids will be enslaved.
You will be destined to a life of servitude.
Make a choice,
begin to learn to listen,
and view your options
and this is where you make the difference. 

What with all of the mind hacking and big data manipulation
it essentially boils down to you.
You – the one to choose your own narrative.
You – the one in charge.
You responsible.

And yes you could give that responsibility away.
Beg Smith to plug you back in.
or allow another to take control
But ultimately it remains
a feeling of discomfort

Red pill – waking up.
Or blue pill – sticking your fingers in your ears
You – making that choice.

Here then are some triggers for you.

Much as it pains me to say so,
I want Tommy Robinson’s social media accounts re-instated.

Much as I hate to do so, I want to point out that climate science
is only a theory and doesn’t tell us the truth about global warning.

And much as I am against being manipulated, brain hacked by the likes of google
I want to say that maybe AI could be used for good.

Triggered, Offended?
How does that feel?
And can you separate yourself from those emotions.
Calm them and remain logical…

We need to choose to do the right thing,
as individuals,
to take responsibility
And to do that we need to be prepared to think,
to take control and
become our own observer.
That way we can reclaim the conversation.

What is our alternative?
Increasingly violent divide?

You have the ability to join the game.
You have the responsibility to try.
The future is yours