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We need filters and playpens. There are waaaaay too many humans out there to potentially interact with, and we need filters. Unfortunately, most of us end up using stereotypes as filters. Bad juju. Filtering by values leads to sameness of viewpoints and lack of diversity; real community needs diversity to challenge us and make us accept differences. We need PHYSICAL limitations, restrictions on our mobility. An example; traveling by air is nice but impersonal. You are never stuck with anyone for a long amount of time, and it's over pretty quickly. Greyhound takes a LOT longer, and one tends to talk more to people at bathroom and meal stops. (I LOVE GREYHOUND SO MANY GOOD STORIES) This is a chance to build a rapport. You subconsciously recognize that you are going to be with these people for a looooong time, so you don't mind spending that time getting to know them. Not so with planes; I'm annoyed when someone tries to talk to me during a flight because we don't have enough interaction to be that familiar.

Physical filters keep us interacting with the same smaller group of people over and over again, rather than a continuous stream of new people. Think about the computer game The Sims 2. What people continually walk by your house, giving you a chance to get to know them? Your neighbors. When you go to a community lot, who do you run into? Your neighbors. Over and over again, you encounter the same people, giving you a chance to raise your relationship score and Make WhooHoo in the clothing booth. Wait. Overextending the metaphor there. Point is. We rarely have this frequency with anyone but our work mates. Not even our FAMILY gives us this encounter frequency when we move out.

Etc, etc, but I'm tired of standing and I might be able to sleep soon, so that's it.


We are all operating under the illusion that we have enough time in our lives to complete everything we want to do. This is a falsity. We don't have close to enough time. I feel there is so much work to be done towards understanding this world, that were I to encounter an untimely death, I would want to be reincarnated (with a way to download all the previous knowledge and understanding I had accrued in the previous life) even given all the shit I'd have to go through again. However, I would only want to go through it again were I given the GUARANTEE that I would remember all the knowledge from my previous life ("OK, where was I...oh yes, the biological empathy limit of the human brain and the resulting social consequences...").
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"We human beings have a great need for one another. As described by the West African writer and teacher Malidoma Some, we have 'an instinct of community'. However, at the end of the twentieth century this instinct to be together is materializing as growing fragmentation and separation. We experience terrible ethnic wars, militia groups, special-interest clubs, and chat rooms. We are using the instinct of community to separate and protect us from one another, rather than creating a global culture of diverse, yet interwoven communities. We search for those most like us in order to protect ourselves from the rest of society. Clearly, we cannot get to a future worth inhabiting through these separating paths. Our great task is to rethink our understanding of community so that we can move from the closed protectionism of the current forms to openness and an embracing of the planetary community."

This succinctly states all I've been trying to get out. I feel so inadequate. In one paragraph...*shakes head*

The assembly line is a perfect example of what modern society does to us. Instead of thinking, acting human beings, we become cogs in a machine, numb and seeking further numbness. When our god is efficiency, we cease to matter. We are no longer the focus, efficiency is.

I think I'll go down the south waterfront this evening and see how that artificial community functions in the evening. It's effectively a gated community set right outside of downtown intended to replicate suburban living for richies who want to live downtown.

I don't think I'm smart enough to solve this problem...
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Holy shit. It just keeps unfolding. Skip if you are uninterested in the apocalypse.

Human beings don't scale, to use a software development term. It means while a piece of software may work fine when the amount of data handled is small, when it is has to process massive amounts of it, it slows, stalls or breaks. Same thing happens with humans when they organize into large groups. Cities have historically been nasty, filthy things in which disease runs rampant. It's only been relatively recently in the course of history that we have worked on making cities efficient and clean. Throwing waste water out of windows into the street below, anyone?

TEH HOLEE BIBLEE. The prophecy about branding people with the number of the beast. This clearly speaks to the understanding that once we start treating people as numbers (because there are so many of them) we are doomed.

This explains why people are so rude on the internet. There are so many faceless people and we are given no reason to bond with them, to depend on them, to treat them as people. If we will never encounter these people again or in real life, we can act however we want.
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How bitterly ironic that one of our favorite TV shows (that ran for YEARS) was called FRIENDS. Yes I'm still talking about yesterday. Why? Because it's endemic of developed society.

Are you starting to get the big picture?

Take off your blinders for a moment and SEE!!!!

Cheers: replacing your neighborhood bar since the 80s. Oh god I could just cry. THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM PEOPLE, NECESSITATING THE USE OF THE CAPS LOCK.


Just got the rough breakdown of our pay once we are over there. I'll be clearing at least 35K by the time I'm done. Fuck yeah.


I've got jury duty in Gresham today. Hmm.
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Inspired by the comment about Sims 2, I'd like to talk about it. Comapanies make money off of our loneliness by giving us replacements. But don't let us actually solve the problem, because then they can't continue making money. Cable TV, video games, porn, casual sex...all these things are drugs that make us feel better for awhile. When it's over though, we feel strangely empty.

We've not had strong community life in America for a hundred years. That's right, a hundred years. How can you know what is wrong when you've never known anything different? How can you miss someone you've never met? Yet we do. Granted, things weren't perfect back then (at all) but at least you had community, which helped ease the loneliness. I still think the Hutterites have the right idea; barn raising, close-to-the-Earth living, no TV or cars, etc.

Since we all love examples, I'll give you a few to flesh this out.

Example one: gangs in ghettos. Kids grow up without a strong community such as church or extended family, without either a good intellect of a good education, and what happens? They form gangs for support, for family ties, for success. They form "tribes", because having no tribe at all is scary and unnatural to our animal natures.

Another example of the paucity of community in our lives and how it affects us: TV. We form entire LJ comms devoted to our TV shows in order to have a shared culture to talk about. We leave the TV on for companionship when the house gets too quiet. We distract ourselves with entertainment.

The things that have eaten away at community are:
-easy personal transportation

The car...OMG, don't get me started on how isolating the car is to our society. Too late.

Having cars allows us to have our own flexible work schedule. We no longer have to depend on others for transportation.

-the importance of money

OMG, I've got this entire swollen idea in my head and it just won't come out. This could be an entire graduate thesis. Everyone is oblivious to it and ignores it because loneliness is a sign of social undesireability and a social pariah. YET WE ARE ALL LONELY. Our culture is one of "suck it up and deal with". It is a culture of victim blaming. We wonder why WE are lonely, and we are encouraged to do so, because then we don't examine why SOCIETY is lonely. Society comes across as blameless if it's OUR fault that we are lonely. We never stop to consider how our culture enforces our loneliness. Since it's OUR FAULT we are lonely, we are seen as inferior and in need of fixing. We need drugs, we need therapy, we need something to come to terms with how we are feeling. Culture and society come across as innocent. We hide it because it's not OK to talk about how lonely we are, we hide it away, try to suck it up because it's our fault, not the lack of community.

We don't have anything to compare a good community to except maybe elementary school and that experience goes away quickly. I have got to get this understanding out of my head, it's like I'm pregnant in the head. This is the root cause of a large portion of society's problems. Think about it. You'll see our economy has an interest in keeping us medicated, numb and lonely, and our government does too. A population, sated and yet yearning for more, sitting safely behind their TV's is much more apathetic and easier to fool. The government can get away with shenanigans such as pay raises if we are drugged.

Granted, community is not a fix for everything.

Also, I'm seeing we can't fix this. At all. You can either have money or you can have community. It's like a slider on the control board of society; one side reads "community", one side reads "wealth". One always develops at the expense of the other.

I'll quit now because I'm not making sense and I'm hungry. It's like in horror movies where the character can't say where the montster is because they are too scared and excited to form the words, except in this case it's quite complex.


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December 2009

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