Pandora’s Neocracy #2, Hope
Originally published at www.crossmedialab.nl on 31 December 2009.
For the first time since many years I have watched our queen’s Christmas speech and listened. (http://player.omroep.nl/?aflID=10445151). I have never been a real fan of monarchism as a whole but, hey, what the hack, at least we in Holland have someone who’s keeping us together, haven’t we? But now our first lady from her ivory tower told ‘her’ people that we are actually getting less social. We have no more ‘nabuurschap’ (close social companionship, ‘talkoot’ in Finnish, for all that matter). The reason according to HRH is digital media. Can you believe HRH said this? Where did she get that royal wisdom?
HRH refers to our actual neighbors, the folks who live next door. She is afraid that we are loosing touch. As in that we don’t know them anymore. I suspect that HRH has nothing to do with neighbors in the first place. A propos. Have you ever been bothered by over-enthusiastic neighbors trying to either win your heart or at least a firm position in your daily goings-about? Apart from this, HRH most likely possesses a cell phone and may occasionally read some form of (citizen) journalism made public in some sort of social medium (digital).
HRH’s speech was on Christmas day and the tone of voice was one of utter disbelieve, at least for me. Our queen told us that, because of SMS, MMS, and what have we – Twitter – our world is growing less social. Unfortunately she neglected in giving any scientific proof of this mumbling.
Two days later (27th December, 2009) Désanne van Brederode, a popular philosopher and columnist who referred to good ol’ Bea’s speech that emphasized on ‘individualism which is going on and is killing our society these days and digital media are very much taking care of this’ (Bea’s words).
Can you believe? Who has ever heard of such ridicules? Who has been whispering all that baloney into those royal ears? Who has been feeding our royalty with spam? I humbly ask: Who is writing HRH’s speeches these days?
Following the media during the Christmas holiday, I realized that a lot of commentators more or less adapted to HRH’s point of view. It is a fragile issue. Probably we are all trying to understand what is going on and some people came up with the warm-hearted idea of lonely people. It’s obvious. It’s Christmas. So let’s reflect a bit on what has happened this year and proclaim that we are neglecting our companions. And as we are into it, let’s blame progress – read digital media – as some wannabe researchers and other oracles have dominated that, because of those devious media, fast groups of people are turning less social by the hour. As Van Brederode says: ‘a moralistic present under the Christmas tree’. She finished her speech with an ode to individualism. And I couldn’t agree more with her. Is it not that we become a group, a tribe, because of our different individualities?
I strongly doubt the idea that media, be they digital or analogue, influence basic human social behavior. Would I turn less social – or, to put it in HRH’s words more individualistic (which, to her believes is not a good development) – by reading the morning paper or entering a thought in my (paper) diary? Okay, media, or better the contents in the media, appear to have an effect on public opinions. We have seen enough good and bad examples over the years. But as far as I am concerned, no medium has ever made anyone more or less social, let alone loosing touch with our neighbors.
Pandora’s Neocracy number 2, the first in this new decade, therefore, for me is hope. The hope that no man will be influenced by the contents of public speeches and taking it for granted that a high positioned stand-alone individual tells us about daily life, why it so very wrong and that we should not deal with ‘moralistic group pressure’. Hopefully we are too much individuals to fall for that trap. Together we are strong, each one of us.