The Algorithmic Undertow On Our Reality

After this last election I have concluded that we have severely underestimating the grip the average U.S. citizen has on reality, and the dangers of the algorithmic undertow that has been sweeping us off our feet on a regular basis. These dangers become even more life threatening when you consider the pharmaceutically-charged, doorstep delivered assaults on our reality–something that can become pretty isolating and damaging when you lived in a rural environment.

Ok, what is reality though? This is definitely up for grabs. Your view from middle America, to the coasts, or the north to the south will vary widely. Left wing, right wing, rich, or poor, we will have different views on what actually is reality. Religious–reality shifts even further. However, I think we underestimated the power of the collective reality we had when it was just newspapers, radio, and a choice between NBC, CBS, ABC, or PBS nightly news. I kind of feel like some people were a little better off with less information, or at least a more editorially controlled drip of information each day.

I speak on this grip on reality from a very real place. I struggle with reality myself. From 1988 to 1996 I was pretty high all the time. Ingesting professional levels of LSD, DMT, mushrooms, and any other hallucinogen I could get my hands on, then ultimately doing Heroin to be able to come down and stabilize–yeah, I know. I know. Beginning in 1997 I began to get to work on the heavy lifting involved with reconstructing my reality, taking back my life, finding a career, and eventually building a family. A significant portion of this was about stabilizing myself, and the world immediately around me in way that was conducive to living a sane life–it took me some time for me to craft a working version of reality, something that is still very much a work in progress today.

Another front I struggle with reality on is when it comes to my rural upbringing. I know a number of pretty “out there christians”, but I know even more “out there hippies”. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between them anymore, they’ve seemed to have merged at some point. I know many people who are anti-vaccine, believe in chem-trails, Jesus, and believe the government is completely incapable of doing anything, but can also pull off some pretty amazing conspiracies without missing a beat. These are cousins, friends, and my immediate family, who really do not have a firm grip on reality, for a variety of reasons. Ultimately we are talking about mental illness, isolation, and the effects of our environment, which includes heavy doses of poverty–I’m not excluding myself from this group, I grew up in this, and suffer daily from its effects.

I know people who are deathly afraid of brown people, because they do not know any. I know people who truly believe in the illuminati and the deep state–it is their greatest fear, and their answer to why everything is the way it is, in the world “out there”. In the last decade I think we have focused on the benefits of the Internet when it comes to the mainstream world, but have significantly underestimated what a slippery slope it would be for isolated folks who do not have a decent grip on reality, and honestly are increasingly on pharmaceutical and other legal, and illegal body and mind altering substances. I’ve seen the effects of Internet culture on these folks first hand. I’ve tried to dive in and understand the information diet they’ve subscribed to, but it is something that is too toxic for even me to endure–no wonder they are so afraid. They’ve created this prison for themselves, and then signed up for a digital mainlining of information that keeps their prison walls in tact.

I know people who are selling herbal concoctions locally and regionally to people, who believe this is proven science, and that they are actively defying the government regulators, and completely unaware that herbal supplements is just one of many affiliate programs of Alex Jones, and the other alt-right evangelists. God, politics, and herbal supplements all swirled together with legal or illegal weed, pharmaceuticals, and good old fashion black tar, with a heavy algorithmic undertow to sweep you off your feet during each election–or on demand, as needed mid election. While many people are on surer footing and can handle the daily algorithmic tides swirling around under their feet, I think a significant portion of our society cannot. While you are all focused on your tech startups, or advertising revenue generation, I’m seeing an increasing number of people left spinning, unsure which way is up, left, right, north or south. Not only are we not having an open conversation about addiction and mental illness in this country, we are not being honest with ourselves about the dangerous effects algorithms are having as an undertow on the reality of many of our citizens.