“We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.”
– Marshall McLuhan
If in 20th century we were marching, in 21st we have strapped ourselves to rockets as we scream our way through technological and societal earthquakes. Every moment seems to fly past us faster and faster. News, events, connections are relegated to distant past at a rapid rate. We try desperately to make sense of the rapid changes, but often have to resort to new superstitions instead.
A charitable view of this would be that of an ascent. We might not be able to look in the direction we are hurtling towards, but there’s a clear sense of moving away from whatever and wherever we were before.
But emotionally, it feels more like a Sisyphean experience. Instead of rolling a rock forever uphill, we are now the Sisyphus who has to forever escape the unfolding chasm beneath our feet. The chasm keeps widening at faster and faster rate, and we have to move away from it as fast as possible unless we want to get devoured by it.
Humans inherited a complex web of life called Earth. And we are ‘moving fast and breaking things’ through it. Climate change.
Humans built complex web of social connections, rituals, practices, myths. These webs sustained us. We are slashing-and-burning through these systems too. Societal collapse.
20th century gave us utopian ideas about societies, technologies and medias. Democracy, reduced labour, equality, freedom, unity, global brotherhood. In 21st century so far, humanity seems to be hell bent on dismantling all of those ideals. Truth decay/ weaponised Media system.
“There is absolutely no inevitability as long there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.” – Marshall McLuhan
Humanity can do better. We need to instigate new and old imaginations of animating our social bonds, our technology deployments, or governance methods.
We can’t hope to do away the chaos and complexity. Far from it. Chaos can be beautiful. And often it arises out of simplicity itself. What we need to do instead is to be more AWARE of the complex web of cause-effect, connections around us. We need to REWIRE some of these connections where humanity is most vulnerable.
Climate change. Weakening democracies. Weaponised Media systems.
These are in a sense, three major fault-lines where Humanity is vulnerable today. They are interconnected, as is everything. And yet, there are certain qualities that make them unique systems that require separate explorations.
I am passionate about these three issues and want to spend my life in pursuit of rewiring complexity in these three systems.
To begin with, now I am writing a (hopefully) short book about the global media system.
Trump; Brexit; WhatsApp-fuelled rumour causing lynching, riots; authoritarian weaponization of mass and social media… rising hate, disintegration of trust, lack of safe spaces… we must do something urgently to stave off the decay in media. I have a few ideas, but I realise a simple technological fix or a governance guideline won’t help much. We need a ‘system thinking’ perspective to thoughtfully rewire the whole media apparatus.
I am reading extensively – across disciplines – to ensure that the perspective and suggestions I share eventually in my book are original, useful and thought-through from multiple angles.
I think through writing. This website is an attempt to share that thinking and hopefully engage and partner with wiser people than me in this project too. After all, as Cass Sunstein has demonstrated, Groups outperform individuals. I hope you would send in suggestions, challenge my ideas, help me find people that I can collaborate with or help me find active projects that I can work on.