I wrote this in 8 seconds flat (not really)

Mayfair

Mayfair

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This is a selection of some of my writing about various subjects that I think and write about. They may appear long on this text format, and to be honest, they don't copy very well from MS Word. Nonetheless, they are here to read! (with rough reading times)

There are a few posts in between chapters, so I thought I would write a list here with links to each chapter.

The first is obviously this post! -

- OCD - What the heck is it? - It's about Routines (20 min read)

- Nothingness - It's about death, and atheism (20 min read)

- Social Equality - This is about hierarchies and whether they form naturally with humans, meaning that complete social equality will never happen (20 min read)

- Concepts of Time - This is about whether all our reflex times are slightly different (15 min read)

- Materialism - This is a hypothesis on how materialism has always been around, however, with each generation it is diluted even more. (45 min read, but the piece is split into 3)

- Lemmings - This is partly about politics, and how over time, we have become slaves to whichever government is in power (25 min read)

- The Sphere - This is a metaphorical layout of how we all fit in, with all the people we know - including how humans all need [at least] one person to be a 'constant' source of reliability (30 min read)

- The pit - This is a short metaphor, describing isolation, loss of control and perceptions of clarity (5 min read)

- The Play - This is a short metaphor about watching a play (5 min read)

- Quoting earlier work - In a chapter above, that I wrote in 2007 (Materialism), I noticed a prediction that came true - fake news (5 min read)

- Music - Why do we like it? - A 3-part chapter on music. If you want to pick out different things. Part 1 is asking this question; Part 2 is some patterns that I noticed in different genres, and requires youtube (or similar); Part 3 is some random things, and perhaps the easiest read. (Part 1: 15 min read; Part 2: depends if you look things up; Part 3: 10 min read)

-

Lastly, I'm open to criticism. I don't mind at all.










Chapter: Self: What the heck is it?

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

‘The term OCD is often synonymous with ‘routines’ when the topic of either one is discussed. Parents use routines as behavioural techniques from a very young age (almost straight after birth). Routines ostensibly form stability for young children and their primary carers, so it is logical that they are a necessity. Media and outside observations of unruly behaviour in children and teenagers often implicate ‘lack of routine’ as a rationale. So if routine is an innate requisite for stable development in childhood living, then it seems inconceivable that it would vanish as people reach a certain age, say 16 or 18 when most people leave school. If however, this requirement does disappear gradually in adulthood, or routine is rapidly abolished in the late teens, then there has to be a point when it begins to disappear. What is the effect of that?’

If it is true that routine is required for adults as well as children, then I think the reason why it isn’t as noticeable, is that most people work or have to plan their day around external events that have stable and consistent times, for example: standard work days, and school. People who work Monday to Friday 9 until 5, and/or have children, have this routine already set out for them, and they adhere to it with unenlightened knowledge of its hypothetical existence, or even my question of it being a possible necessity for a partial aspect of healthy living.

***

When I have worked these ‘so called’ normal hours, I had noticed that on Mondays, it seemed that people weren’t at their optimum potential. This could be due to; having ‘a heavy night’ on Friday or Saturday; or the thought of another full week at work (either of these could be partially the reason), but it seems too wide spread to be the fundamental reason. Could part of this behaviour be a derivative of a broken routine on the days off (Saturday and Sunday), and the routine which was in place in the week was knocked off course, and it takes effort to reintroduce the weeks’ routine?

***

From my observations in the many work places which didn’t have ‘standard’ work hours, I also saw a lot more anxiety and/or depression in people who for example had scatty schedules; worked irregular shifts; swapped between night and day, etc. It was often a similar behaviour to how workers of regular hours behave on Mondays. This is not to say that everyone who works irregular hours or live unscheduled lives will have issues with anxiety or depression, but I believe someone with a natural or congenital tendency towards anxieties or depression are more likely to suffer from irrational behaviour without externally implemented routine. For people who exercise exorbitant routine, or are too regimented with externally implemented routine, they are more likely to develop obsessive issues instead.

This is a broad topic encompassing many factors, for which I written differing hypotheses based on my observations and opinions. They were written at different times over a period of a few years. They are typed out in no particular order.

- - -


OCD and Routine – daily life

‘Is there a possibility that what some called ‘OCD’ can be actually attributed to the overlooking of an exposed deficiency in an innate desire for simple or basic routine?’

Look at this day in the life of Mr. and Mrs. Lovely:

0630: Mrs. Lovely awakes because Junior Lovely has climbed onto the bed and woken her.

0645: Mrs. Lovely nudges Mr. Lovely to wake him. Junior Lovely wasn’t loud enough to wake the lazy git.

0700: All three Lovely’s are now out of bed and the order of the following activities is pretty much in place and with little organizational banter, the order of who gets the first shower; who puts the kettle on; and who helps dress Junior; and who gets breakfast ready… are all just the repeat of previous day’s activities with maybe a couple or minor adjustments.

0745: Junior has had their breakfast, and now can play for a while, whilst Mr. and Mrs. Lovely get their things together for a day’s work, and prepare Junior’s things required for their day at school.

0830: One parent takes Junior to school, and the other parent leaves for work.

0900: School and work start for Junior and parents respectively

1200: Lunch break

1530: One parent picks up Junior, picks up some bits and bobs from the shop then goes home, and prepares tea

1700: Other parent arrives home

1730: The three sit and eat their teas

1800: One parent washes the pots, while the other sees to the child

1930: Junior goes to bed

1930: Parents go about house tasks

2100: Parents chill for an hour

2200: Parents go to bed

0645: Starts again.

The details in this ‘day in the life’ may alter slightly from day to day, and may involve differences in the people used – for example, there may only be one parent, or more than one child – but, as a design, this is a standard day for many working families. For these people, a basic routine is already in place. Their child, and their jobs mean that predetermined times have to be adhered to, and create a framework for this routine. If one of them suffer from any variants of obsessive compulsive behaviour whilst also being in this framework, then it seems probable that the very nature of compulsive actions are an extension of sub-consciously maintaining this routine with vigour. A comfort might be created by obsessing to keep this routine maintained, and extended to smaller individual components of daily life. These extensions will most likely mean a regimented atmosphere, lifestyle and household.

For someone who has no routine or framework in place, by either staggered or changeable work hours, or unemployment, then there may be little routine, or at least nothing to cement a framework or structure. I think certain aspects of obsessive compulsive behaviour in this case are caused by an innate desire for basic routine, and the odds of it this behaviour occurring is highly increased if anxiety and/or depression are present in the subject.

These show both ends of the OCD scale; an intense desire to uphold a routine, establishes too regimented and unchangeable lifestyle, hence, irrational behaviour. It also may create an aggravation or distress for the person and others, who are close to the person. If it’s a primary carer, then the child may pick these habits up too. Too little routine and a loose lifestyle framework, and it may leave certain people susceptible and irrational behaviour such as variants of OCD.

The balance has to be right with a routine as a theory for OCD. Somewhere between the regimented and the lack of routine is the correct balance.

This observation encompasses different aspects of lifestyles and work life, and puts forward the conjecture that it is a basic requirement for adults as well as children, to have a framework in place for routine, as part of healthy living.

What possible reasons could I give to these answers?

Firstly: Observation. I’ve known many parents over the years, through friendships, work and relationships. A child requires a routine to function well. It seems too farfetched that this requirement dissolves at a certain age. It may diminish somewhat throughout early adulthood, but it seems inconceivable that it would play no part in one’s psyche after this time.

Secondly: Our eyes. Can anyone see in the dark? Our eyes haven’t evolved to see in the night, so, on this basis it’s certain that we evolved as a ‘day species’. If this is correct, then by working irregular hours that include night time, we are defying the way we have evolved.

***

Symmetry, perfection, and OCD hypothesis


One evening, I was sat at my computer, organizing my vast collection of photographs of Sheffield. If you’ve ever organized photographs before, you will know that is never a quick task… we seem to spend an age relooking at them. I’m a great fan of old buildings, and I noticed on this occasion that of all the old buildings that I seem to like, most of them were symmetrical buildings. Not only this, most symmetrical buildings appear to be of a similar era. It occurred to me that I could link up previously observed occurrences of ‘arranging things’ which create symmetry, (including some occurrences of my own!). It made me wonder whether all architects had OCD?!

When considering how many buildings are symmetrical, it seems to figure that we find symmetry aesthetically pleasing. I’ve seen architects at work, and realise that a building design essentially requires perfection in the method of its configuration. Some aspects of OCD (in particular, arrangement) also appear to be about creating perfection. There seem to be a link between these three matters.

Perhaps if symmetry is (in general) sub-consciously pleasing to the eye, whether an aspect of this desire, mixed with a perfectionist attribute in a person, may contribute to the action of wanting to rearrange things. These two aspects aren’t quite enough though. The last ingredient that I’m going to add is the ‘niggle’. Everyone has something that ‘niggles’ them, it could be a person; an action; a saying; or an arrangement. If someone is already subconsciously gratified with symmetry, or finds symmetry as subliminally pleasing, and this person has a perfectionist nature, then if ‘the niggle’ for this person is an asymmetrical or displaced arrangement, then relief could occur from the action of rearranging. This would explain why some people arrange things as they do.

This theory however, doesn’t encompass other aspects of OCD, such as touching things, locking doors and switching things on/off. So I thought further to seek the possible answers to these.

Childhood experience, routines and OCD observation

For this observation, I need you to do something. I need you to think back to a childhood memory. In particular, think of your first memory.

At what age were you when you when this memory occurred?

My first real concrete memory is from about 4 years old. At a guess, and to move on, I’ll assume yours was around about this age, give or take a year, though perhaps slightly older, rather than younger.

Can you remember 10 more memories from this precise age? Have a think before you read on.

I personally can’t remember many other things at the age of 4. If you now add 5 years or so, to the age of your first memory, and have a think again of how many memories that you can recall, and assuming that your memory is of what you would consider to be average, or normal, then I’m quite certain that the number of memories at this new age, will be considerably higher.

In between these two ages that you have thought of, you will have absorbed a gargantuan amount of information, through learning (not necessarily academic information, but life skills and knowledge to guide you through your life). Because you have relatively few memories at the early stage, this suggests that much of this learned information was done almost subconsciously, as we don’t have specific memories for the countless things that we have learned. So, if we can’t remember these ‘learns’, then who is to say what exactly has been put in there [our brain]?

Is it possible that ‘seeds’ of OCD might have been learned or absorbed in us during this time, and they are waiting for some external influence or force at the time, or in the future, to trigger this seed into flourishing?

One conscious memory that I can recall is that silly old adage that most of us will have heard when we were young, which is: ‘don’t walk on the cracks (in the pavement), or else something bad will happen’. I am not suggesting phrases like this would cause OCD. This is using an exaggerated example to show what I mean as being what might be considered to be a ‘seed’. I can remember this, as you may also remember; but how many terms or phrases on these lines, might have been absorbed by us as youngsters, but in a subconscious context?

Perhaps this subconscious learning may affect the chances of this condition developing. This may seem farfetched, but many traits can be easily absorbed. I’ve seen similar instances: such as the fear of spiders. I’ve never seen a young child being scared of spider, until they have learned a fear of it. Since I live in a society where there aren’t any spiders which could cause enough harm to warrant a fear of them, then there must be a high chance that they have learned this fear from someone else (esp. primary carer). In my observations, an adult may be causing this fear by transferring their own fear into the child.

So this hypothesis is based on childhood experiences, and learned fear of situations, when an action isn’t undertaken to relieve that fear.

Memory and OCD

‘You are going abroad with some friends; you pull away in the vehicle that is taking you to the airport. Someone in the car regularly pats their pocket to ensure that the passport is in there’.

Have you ever done this? Or do you know someone that has done this? This doesn’t necessarily mean that this person has OCD. I’ve seen and heard of this occurring numerous times, and by people that have few other traits similar to OCD. However this event is a way that someone with no knowledge of OCD might be able to comprehend this theory.

One evening in my taxi, I was picking up a fare in the suburbs of Sheffield. I pulled up outside the house, and a chap came to the car and said his wife wouldn’t be a moment. I saw her stood at their front door, in an apparent struggle with the lock. I mentioned this to the chap and he said she has to go through a sequence to lock the door; lock all the locks, unlock them again, the relock them, and carry out this sequence six times. I’d heard of similar sequences like this before, but in relation to gas appliances and electrical switches. I asked him a couple of questions about these actions of hers without trying to appear as if I was prying. This aspect or type of OCD perhaps isn’t explained by the symmetry theory, but could possibly be integrated into the childhood experience theory.

One of the chapters that I’ve written is entitled ‘Memory Stress Theory’, and after some thought, I found that there may be links to my memory stress theory. To briefly outline the standpoint of memory stress theory that may relate to OCD, I’ll quote a small part of it: Memory Stress is a mental stress (perhaps only minor, but enough to consciously notice it), that occurs, or is created when you can’t instantly recall a recent event. An example of this might be when there are two of you discussing recent day’s events or experiences, and even between two of you, you cannot instantly recall any information to what you were doing, or on which day, or at what times. This will continue until something ‘clicks’ and it becomes clear.

Here is how I have linked memory stress and OCD: The memory stress theory suggests that a large number of events or actions that we carry out in all our everyday activities, have no need to be memorized. Once the memories of mundane or imperative actions that are required for living are removed, i.e. eating, drinking, cleaning, sleeping etc, then the memories that remain will include events that will create retrieval based memories, e.g. ‘I remember going for a coffee with a friend on Tuesday morning, because I get Tuesday morning off work’. Though you may remember having a meal, going to work etc, there is a huge array of tiny actions and activities that are required for each event, and it is these ‘micro-actions’ are significant to this theory.

To illustrate this idea of micro-actions, do this simple mathematical sum in your head. Take the number of years that you have been alive, and multiply this figure by 1000. This sum, will give you a rough estimate of how many meals you have eaten in your life. In my case, the total is 34,000. How many of those 34,000 can I remember? How many can you remember of your total?

Perhaps you have memories of significant events, and link these to eaten meals; such as dinner parties or birthday meals, and you may remember quite a few meals that you have eaten recently. However, I’ve used ‘eating meals’ to illustrate this theory, so as to get you to this point, because you may be thinking - ‘I can remember hundreds of meals!’. With regard to eating meals, there is a process that will include; preparation; (perhaps) cooking; and eating. It is the preparation aspect that will be looked at now, as this is where the ‘huge array of micro-actions’ occur, and show the importance of memory stress theory.

Of all these meals that you have memories of, the preparation will involve hundreds of moves; like getting a knife out of the drawer as and when it’s needed; getting a preparation dish out of the cupboard; turning the gas on; opening the bin to throw some packaging away; walking over to the table, there were hundreds of actions like this. These all appear to be done without any conscious thought (other than the sequence required to maintain an order of events to complete the preparation tasks efficiently). These seem to be done on autopilot. They have no reason to be memorized for future use. Each event is done as the task is required at a moment in time. So thinking back to all of those meals that you have prepared, how many events like ‘getting a spoon out of the drawer’ could you possibly remember, even with the last one that you prepared?

*

On the other end of the scale, and to use an example to highlight the significance of memories, consider this:

I’m sat at my workplace which is several miles from my home, do I suddenly think, “oh my goodness, did I remember to bring the car with me to work?!”

In the unlikely event of this being a thought of someone, it would be instantly and logically dismissed as a memory stress, because logic would intervene, and clarify that you wouldn’t be at work had you not brought the car, or your brain would instantly acknowledge that you came by an unusually alternative means, such as catching the bus. Logic would subdue a memory stress in this case because the catching of the bus would be a significant memory event, or the fact that you made it to work, means the car must have brought you there, so that would be a significant memory event.

Now that micro-action memory stresses and logic over memory have been addressed… the significance of these concepts can excogitate this theory, and what part these factors play in it.

*

‘Did I turn the gas off?’

This is not a significant memory event, if it was done during a cycle of events (or micro-actions) in the process of cooking.

‘Did I lock the front door?’ may not be a significant event because when you left the house, you may have been thinking about something else; do I have everything that you required for work; is the cat is in or out; or thinking, ‘great another day of work!’

(A common example with my taxi customers is; ‘did I turn off the hair straighteners?’ which is promptly followed by turning back to check.)

* * *

It is events such as these - ones that are done in autopilot, that I believe can lead to memory stresses, and in certain people, will lead to a multi-action OCD trait.

I conclude this section by speculating that relief of a memory stress can be obtained by a multi-action event that clearly implants a memory into the subject person. By locking the front door six times before getting in my taxi, my passenger was not just making sure that it was locked, but was actually creating a memory that relieved her mind that this action (the action of locking the door), had taken place. I believe that the fact that she was able to comfortably get in my taxi and go out for the evening, was made possible by a multi-action task which clearly placed a conscious memory of locking the door in both her subconscious mind (her relief), and her conscious mind (her memory).

The origin of this behaviour, in this theory could be nature, or nurture. If it was nurture, then it could be quite possible that at some point in her past, she forgot to lock the front door, and this trait or requirement to perform a multi-action task was formed from this previous ‘failure’.


Hypothesis of Repetition, Routines and OCD

A previous section relating to routines propose that routines are most likely required as part of the healthy development of a child, and that this requirement would not just disappear at the age of 16 or 18. Hence, I believe routines are required to some extent, in adults too.

I added this final part to my writing of OCD in 2009. It followed an evening at a friend’s house when we had being playing with their two young children just before they were due to go to bed. The young boy behaved with an action that I would assume most people have seen in the past: An action of wanting to play a game or conduct an event: ‘Again, Again!’ It’s quite often the most tedious or a completely pointless pursuit too, an action with seemingly no benefit to anyone, other than the child finding it funny, and consequently us finding it amusing too!

I wondered whether regular routines that children undergo (which I think are beneficial. I’m not implying this is a problem) , and the association with performing tasks over and over might stay with the child, and reform as an OCD trait at a later stage in their life. This wouldn’t be classed as a mental disorder, but more a future behaviour based on acting out similar experiences from childhood. I did consider that this behaviour might be linked to avoidance of an unwanted upcoming event (i.e. not wanting to go to bed!), but this doesn’t seem logical, as young children don’t seem to be able to fraudulently smile and feign joy, like adults can. If the repeated action wasn’t interesting or fun, then they quickly express an emotion to indicate that thought, i.e. ‘huff, and say I’m bored’, or toddle off to play with something else.

Could routines in early childhood be a possible reason for multi-action OCD in later life? This aspect to my OCD theory is only quite recent, so I’ve not had time to observe this to any point of making more claims. Furthermore, I think that is most likely, to be the least likely to be a strong case.


Mental Health and OCD, as viewed by the outside world

I don’t think too much about this, as I probably can’t add anything to it (because I’m not an expert, these are purely my thoughts). It also conflicts with my writing about mental health, because I’ve written in the past, and continue to think and write about nature, nurture, and different forms of mental health. Mental health often suggests a ‘label’ for someone, and I think there is more to it than that. I believe that some traits come from life experience, and my theories to OCD based characteristics all imply that there is some form of previous experience which underpins the issues. I could be entirely wrong, and it could be a mental disorder that is innate in certain people.

I have stated that I have a few OCD traits, but I wouldn’t consider myself to have this ‘condition’ - (another word I don’t like), and this is because my observations and empirical evidence, also suggest that I think that most people have ‘odd traits’ which appear to others what might be considered to be OCD.

Anyone who reads this chapter and thinks they have OCD, I would love to hear from.


-
Added
Routines + OCD apr10
Tribe – before taking meat (hunting) they offer gifts to the spirits. This ritual could be classed as OCD or Routines to stem anxiety, so distant tribes with little or no western influence also relieve angst with repeated actions or rituals – though like religion, are taught.
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Signs of OCD on internet forums for example **!!ash!!** (symmetry)
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Remove first page, and change to intro in chap1
 
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Mayfair

Mayfair

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I finished that 2 years ago. But I've only posted it to show Mischief and piglet something.
 
Mayfair

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Part I: Self and Others: Chapter 7: Nothingness

Introduction

There were lots of thoughts; logical thinking (with reference to my religious beliefs, and/or subsequent lack of); and a huge array of notes that I put together to complete this chapter. It’s possible that my original thoughts and notes were through a need to understand personal losses some years ago, of which I found extremely difficult to understand or comprehend at the time.
Dates of writing: There were various papers written over the period of ‘95-’08. It was written up in March ‘09.

- - -

Part I
Self and others
Chapter 7: Nothingness - misunderstanding it, a fear of it, or the need to replace it with something else.

Nothingness or a state of complete non-existence is something that can be difficult to understand when in relation to human life.


People appear to place different species with alternative states after a life has been lost, and more often than not, these states are based on either what a person has learned, or based on the beliefs that a person has been brought up with. However, either way, it seems that the intimacy of the relationship between a person and a creature (regardless of the creature’s species), following its death, seems to determine where a person puts them in name, in place, or in spirit.

The Cat and the Wasp (what is the difference in someone’s mind?)

Supposing someone isn’t a great admirer of wasps. They see a wasp and squash it to its death. It obviously ceases to exist as a living entity. It’s forgotten about and doesn’t have any meaning. They won’t miss it, in fact no one [human] will miss it, no one (other than perhaps another wasp) will mourn its death, no one will care about what happens to its body, or what happened to its mind [if it had anything in there, other than to work and/or reproduce].

Now suppose they are an admirer of cats, and a cat that they own, or know, dies. They may describe (or place in their mind) where the cat goes to, for example; possibly believe that the cat has gone to a better place, or even perhaps even heaven.
How much of this is taught?, or is this actually a naturally occurring way of placing the cat somewhere, whereby the person needs to feel it stills exists in some form?
The cat is as dead as the wasp, but because no one seems to care about the dead wasp, it doesn’t get a named place to go … a place that possibly involves peace, tranquility and/or eternal happiness. The wasp can get lost, the stinging little shit! However, the cat does go there, it lives, or stagnates, in peace [perhaps only in spirit] or heaven (if one believes in it). Actually, there isn’t any difference, only in the mind of the person/or people who knew the cat and the wasp, and in this case, the relationship between themselves, and the two.

Mentally, when the cat and wasp were alive, the two [now] dead creatures may have been very different. The cat may have had feelings, if only a feeling of knowing where it could get fed or stroked. It may have understood some form of love through this, and so created some form of camaraderie, between itself and its carer. The wasp, however, didn’t care for us in any way, other than the flora that we may have planted which helped create its ‘living’, but even so, it never showed us any physical appreciation (unless of course one finds pleasure in being stung!).

Where they go after death is a figment of the person’s imagination, created by the intimacy of the earlier relationship. In the case of religious placing of a dead creature, it’s no more than the thoughts understood by a person, which have been taught/or passed on by someone else, earlier in life.

Ash, 2001

* * *

It was mentioned in an earlier paragraph about the intimacy of a relationship with a creature. ‘The cat and wasp‘, was suggesting that individually the wasp doesn’t matter, and because someone’s relationship with the cat was a close one, then the cat goes to a nice place. This ‘nice place’ can come in useful, for using as an explanation when someone hasn’t got the mental capacity (or perceived to not have the mental capacity, whether correctly or incorrectly) to understand why someone/thing has vanished. For example, if the cat owner had a child who they considered wouldn’t understand death, or what has happened to the cat after death, then the parent could then use previously taught explanations as a sort of comfort, places such as; heaven; up in the sky; a better place. This is the comfort aspect mentioned in the title of the theory. When used as a technique for protecting the vulnerability of undeveloped mind, it could be considered acceptable, however, I think unnecessary, unless these concepts are not fully understood by the parent.

* * *

What the heck has a cat and a wasp got to do with anything?

The disregarded stinging shit of a wasp, to the love of a cuddly fluffy cat, was to highlight the slide on a scale toward humans, in relation to other humans. This is like a spectrum or scale, whereby the issues of care and intimacy push the scale of where creatures are placed [as shown earlier], that being to a nicer place [dependent on the species], and the relationship between the two.

Human to human understanding of passing away goes right to the top on the scale, perhaps due to the nature of our brain complexity, and its capability of dealing with emotional distress. When a closely related human dies, even the cat now seems insignificant compared to that of the human passing (of course not in every single person’s case, but by and large).

Perhaps if this metaphorical scale is correct, then over time, it has created part of the very balance required for our survival, and the reason for our existence?


* * *

‘People die all the time, I don’t know them, my cat is more important than a dying person on the other side of the world’.

Look further from home. After all, even though one may not care about a person on the other side of the world dying, then someone over there probably does. Even if no one else cares for them, they do have feelings for themselves, even if they are bad ones. A person even with bad feelings towards the self still needs a place to go, ‘in their own head’. In the latter case, would someone kill them self; to free themselves of their own mental/physical pain; or do it to go to a better place?
Only entering their mind or looking to what they were taught would give us the nearest possible answer.

The people who place other people somewhere [other than nowhere] after a life ended do it because they don’t think anything different to what they are taught. They were taught it, and that is what happens. It can be seen quite easily that developing minds choose this taught behavior, by looking at the religious map of the world.
These people have never thought about total nonexistence of mind, because they have been educated differently. They may have been taught that they will have an afterlife or go to heaven etc, so, there is absolutely no reason to consider the possibility of completely nothing (or at least nothing in terms of thoughts and reason). Our bodies of course re-enter the eco-system, whether buried or cremated. Our minds, our thoughts, and our memories, cease to exist when the brain is cut off from its source of energy. That can only be the logical truth.

-

Ask a young child to think of the highest number that they can think of, then ask them to add 1

It’s difficult to appreciate what this nothingness is, because there is very little that we can compare it to when we use our conscious minds and all our life’s experiences. It seems quite bizarre that although we have complex thoughts, emotions, and logical capabilities, yet ‘absolute nothing’ is mentally hard to grasp.

I thought that mechanically powered machines could be considered to use as an analogy, but as the mechanical device isn’t a living creature, nor does it think whilst it’s in use, it can only be a poor example.

However, I thought that one possible way to grasp the concept of nothingness is to inverse a thought/action that we’ve done in the past. In this example, probably a childhood thought:

The universe

I suspect that most people have at some point in their young life, sat outside at night time and whilst relaxed, gazing at the sky, tried to grasp the concept or possibility of an infinite [or ever expanding] universe, ‘it must end somewhere!’

We were trying to imagine something that seems impossible, because there aren’t many things that we can compare it to. Numbers are perhaps the only way, that most can understand this concept. We use numbers from a very early age, and the complexity to how we use them, develops as we grow.

Ask a young child to think of the highest number that they can think of. Then ask them to add one. No matter how developed you are, you can still now keep on adding 1.

If we imagine how hard it is to grasp the idea of infinity, then it can understood, why the determined minds of ‘taught’ people would find the difficulty in an idea of absolutely nothing (mind wise).

Ash, 2003

* * *

‘There has to be something, surely!’

In the case of the death of a human, it’s easier to use a theory that has been passed on to us, or indoctrinated/or taught via religion, that there is somewhere, where our thoughts and minds, and our history goes. This is not necessarily a physical place, which is the case of certain people who hold religious belief … just ‘somewhere up there’.

The brain as a physical organ dies. Thought is gone, when a brain is dead. Memory is gone, when a brain is dead. Our thoughts and memories are just electrical/chemical signals that die with our bodies.

* * *

My reflection on sensitivity

Of course, it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t stand at a funeral and announce these points, because that would be insensitive. However it’s only insensitive to the people that remain and would be present … the ones who cared for the deceased.

The phrases that are common at funerals, ‘he/she would have been pleased to see so many people here’, or ‘he/she would have liked this/that’, seem almost pointless. The deceased’s thoughts have ceased to exist. Their ability to care about anything, or anyone is gone. It’s actually only pleasing for the people that remain. This paragraph, I can accept makes me appear to be slightly heartless. That is why I placed the previous but one sentence in italic.

The only things that remain of a person when death occurs are written pieces; art; physical pieces – such as gravestones; the body that re-enters the eco-system and most significantly; thoughts and memories of the deceased, by the remaining people alive that knew them.

This section arguably crosses the line between empathy and heartlessness.

The truth shouldn’t hurt. Emotion can hurt, but that shouldn’t be used to dismiss the truth.

Whilst someone is alive and perhaps planning their own funeral. They may think that they are doing what they wish to happen to themselves following their own death, but, whether they think it’s for them, or for other people, it is in actual fact, all for the people that remain.

Whether they care or not what happens to them is simply what they’ve been taught, unless they’ve accepted the concept of the non-existence of thought. They won’t have the ability to care anymore after death.

* * *

Where do you go? Thoughts, minds and body

People who consider a physical place are much closer to the truth. Though our minds are dead and our thoughts are gone, our physical body has to go somewhere. That place is back in nature. Our bodies (mainly made up of Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Carbon) in the case of burials, are eaten with [or decayed by] bacteria [or eaten by worms to use the common language amongst real thinkers] to form some other being. Eventually, that bacteria or creation will find its way into the food system, or be digested by something that eventually forms another creature. This part of ‘being born again’ is inevitable. It’s possible, and most probable (barring human self destruction), that at some point in time, many of the particles that make you the reader, and me the writer, will form part of another human being at some stage in the future. However, your/my memories and thoughts won’t be carried in those particles, so you/I (as a person typing now whilst alive) will have no knowledge of where they end up, and the recipient will have no knowledge of you or me.

* * *

What happens to your ‘soul’?

I’ve been asked this before, and most people that I’ve spoken to, have pondered this question at some point in their life. ‘Your soul carries on after death, it must, what happens to your soul, or do you not believe in having one?’

My other written work, explains how I perceive the mind, and that we have the ability to see ourselves, not like in the mirror, but just listening to your brain working, and ‘talking’ (see chapter 8).

As for a disembodied spirit, it is another figment of our great power of thought, yet whether taught or not, is shows the power of our own deception to realistic judgment and actuality. People with extra sensory perception can explain spirit, only due to their clever minds, or due to their fraudulence, or both.

I think the soul is alive with us. And it dies when our brains die. That’s logical, and most probably true.

After death, only other people’s memories/ and thoughts toward your former self will judge [what they perceive to be] your soul, and where it is. The last paragraph [after death- and being born again] explains much of the view to this question.

An aside - Some religious teachings explain this by saying that only humans have souls. If this were true, then modern medical science showing similar DNA relationships between species (and proof of evolution), would mean that close relations to us (past and present), aren’t explained by the teachings. They must be wrong, as the Great Creator would have known the evolution of species that relate to our current existence.

* * *

‘The fear of nothingness’ and ‘the need to replace it with something’

This chapter has focused on varying aspects of trying to explain nothingness. This however, hasn’t really mentioned the fear of it. The wasp, the cat, and the human, scratch the surface with regards to the need to replace the fear (if it’s recognised) in relation to creatures to which we care for. Somewhere nice, somewhere that we would want to go, or we would want our loved ones to go, are used to dispel the fear. It’s unnecessary, and untrue.

This conjectural text would dispel the fears, if they did exist for someone (or are recognized by someone).

For most people, perhaps especially in the case of people who accept various religious beliefs, the fear won’t even be known [or cared about], because the teachings have told them where they will go, often basing their destination on their actions in this life.

How about non-religious people, who say ‘I’m not religious, but there must be something after death?’ They simply haven’t realized the reasonable and logical answer yet, and its fear that has brought them to this belief, fear of the unknown, they are unaware of what this writing explains.

In my experience, certainly, most of the people who are non-religious and think there must be something after life, have been confused into this, by childhood religious teachings, be it at school, or by parents who may also question what they were taught.
They are replacing nothingness, with an illusion that appears better than the reality.

Why they are replacing it? Is it because of poor teaching in younger life, or lack of knowledge? Teachings that are based on ‘should you not follow a recognized and authorized doctrine’, then bad things will happen after death? People shouldn’t fear it. There is nothing to fear of death, other than possibly the thought of a painful way of arriving there, which of course few want! Whilst people have the ability to think, they can/or should put things into place to ensure that people that they care for or who rely on them, will be safe following their death. This is common sense.

* * *


[A side thought]

It’s one of many reasons, why I oppose capital punishment, and a reason why others should consider too. It isn’t punishment, when their [the criminal] recollections, reminders and thoughts of what they have done, are taken away. It’s an easy option for them, and people’s beliefs that they will be punished after life, won’t happen. Bacteria isn’t picky, it will munch them up, much in the same way as the body of the religious believer who lived the perfect life.

Ash, 2005
* * *

This fear can be abused. It makes many people easy targets for deities to coerce the weak minded [most commonly early/young undeveloped minds]. It has for generations. Wherever fear is easily instilled, creates power for someone else. The lack of scientific knowledge that our ancestors would have had, perhaps made them easy prey, and until fairly recent times, views were left relatively unchallenged.
It happens today amongst around half of the population of the world. Teachings are often considered as fact (though the word faith is used).

It could be arguably said then that half of the population of the world are questioning the authority of worldwide religious teachings [or have no knowledge of religious teachings, or don’t care]. Do the religious followers have fears over disagreeing with the other half through fear of retribution, following life? Or fear questioning the authority of something that people have believed for centuries? Or fear the unknown. Or fear what will happen to friends/family etc. If someone had no knowledge of a God, they would wonder what happens to a person when they first experience the death of another person. On a desert island for example, how easy would it be for an elder to claim all knowledge, and manipulate a young person into their beliefs and life choice? Quite easily is a reasonable guess. One only has to look at a religious map of the world to see the ‘coincidence’ of previously invaded countries, and what religion they hold now. It may take a couple of centuries to ‘convince’ a nation or group of people to believe a set of words in a book, but it works. It’s a power that’s easily used to manipulate the weak minded, weak willed, or in some cases, minorities, into bringing up their offspring in the same way. In reality, it’s not necessary for a religious book to teach them right from wrong.

The simple teaching of common sense, and understanding that every person is related to you, and they feel the pain that you do, is needed. Their complex mind set is similar, other than the difference in upbringing and experience. Once common sense, reason, and rationality are widespread, then the upbringing of further generations will be the same.

* * *

Should Bob get a Donor Card?

A common topic, that doesn’t appear to have a common answer.
Given what has been said so far. Where should the choice lie?

The obvious answer seems to be that the person that writes out the card should choose. For which to most would seem reasonable.

However, having tried to explain the concept [and obvious reality] of nothingness, Bob will not have the ability to care what happens to him. If his choice was to ‘not donate anything’ now, while he’s alive, is that for him? Is it his choice?, or his choice for the views and beliefs of the people close to him, who he will leave behind?. (No rhetoric, honest)

I think, some religious teachings mean that the choice isn’t for the individual, but are actually for the people left behind, who perhaps through their beliefs would find it inhumane for him to be cut to pieces. Having the knowledge that whatever happens to his body, he will end up somewhere in the eco-system, he shouldn’t care now, what happens to him.

Me - My body could be tossed over a bridge into the river for all I would care or know, which would actually be absolutely nothing. However, now, consciously thinking, would I want that to really happen? Obviously not. Should I not outlive close family, they might be upset by that act for a start. Whilst thinking about it, most of the readers, at a guess, will think the same. Think about what was said earlier,

‘After death, only other people’s memories/ and thoughts toward your former self will judge [what they perceive to be] your soul, and where it is.’ [Unquote]

Once again the reason ...

... ‘it’s all for the people that remain’ …


***

Most people have had access to some religious knowledge and scientific knowledge in their lives, so it’s difficult to nail down the precise point on the scale of how different people place their belief.

Perhaps I’m wrong about fear, and it’s actually natural to assume that there is something after life. Perhaps the reason for this assumption is our complex ability to think, and that our well developed emotions would try and protect us from the pain of loss.

We can imagine in a way, that most creatures can’t, but I can see no possibility that an ability to think should suggest that humans go to a place any different than other creatures on the planet after life.

* * *

Is it possible to find the person with a pure, yet complex mind, that has had no background influences regarding ‘after life’, and ask them what they think?

There perhaps, would lie the absolute answer
 
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Chapter 9 – Concepts of time

Part I - Time - the time that an individual brain is ‘ticks’, in relation to the clock that collectively we all live by.

We use clocks and calendars to measure and keep track of time, of course. Almost everyone in the civilized world recognizes the standard clock and dating system that we use. A major function of ‘clock time’ is clearly so we can order our everyday activities, so collectively we all can live in a relative ‘time harmony’ in an organized way.

There have been occasions in life where I have made observations which made me ponder over whether it’s possible to believe, that even though we all relate to the same time clock, we may not however, all see time at exactly the same speed. This observation is not about the body clock, of which I believe much information is known.
-
My observations and thoughts are that there is possibility that people see the clock ticking, at different speeds.
-
For reasons of simplicity, I will refer from now on, to the real clock time which we all live by, as ‘the real clock’, and every individuals’ relationship to that clock which I’m to explaining, as ‘our or your clock’.

-

This ponder is based on ‘every individual’ having a different relationship between ‘the real clock’ and ‘our own clock’.

The difference between our clock and the real clock, I would only suggest is minimal, and only milliseconds between a few, and perhaps only nanoseconds between most.

In part, what created this idea in my head was when I was with a group of friends playing a simple test on a games machine in the early 1990s. Despite the game being a simple one, it was based loosely around the concept of reflex speeds, which were quite clearly slightly different between the individuals, however, even despite practicing the game, the order of winners was almost consistent to 100%.

Reflex times also change with age, and I wonder whether with brain speed and functioning speeds changing, that the speed of how time is sensed also changes. To make this ponder a little clearer, I’ll also utilize another species, for purposes of exaggeration, and simplicity.

I’ll start with a fly, as I going to assume that most people have seen examples of this, and though highly exaggerated; it is what this theory is about. If you have seen a video footage reenactment of what a fly can see when we try and swat it. It sees us in slow motion as we take a swing for it, and it can therefore avoid a splatting. The speed, at which each individual species sees motion in comparison to our real clock, can be understood by using the fly as an example (which of course is implying that there is proven knowledge that different species see time differently to us).

I think that even within a species, there is also a time difference between individuals ‘own clock’ and the real clock. Looking at reflex times is a possible way to demonstrate this difference.

Reflexes

Reflexes ostensibly change throughout life with everyone, but at what rate and at what time? Why do two people at the same time in life, or of equal physical and mental states have different reflex times? It seems plausible that different mental stimulations throughout life may have regulated this. Even if two people were influenced by the same environment, of these people one may have faster reflexes. Is it possible that two individuals of the same [human] mind see things at different speeds? The timing of this is so minimal that it could help to research this by using a task to test the reflexes of two individuals for comparison.

If the measurements of two people are different on a reflex test, then it would have to be shown that these reflex times are accurate. So now, of the two people, the slowest practices the task to see if they can speed the measurement up of their time (the reflex time). If it is possible that with the practicing of a reflex test, that the reflex time of the slower of the two can become close, or equal to the faster person, then it would initially equate to the test being useless. However, if then the original fastest person also does an equal practice (in the same environment), to show that they can also improve their speed, to then ‘out speed’ the original slowest’s new faster time it would rebalance the experiment. This would be a partial explanation to the conceptualisation that some people’s brains see real time at a different speed to another person’s individual ‘own clock’ – but only in terms of showing that if a change in both reflex times is at a similar level, it establishes a connection between the two people seeing the test at fractionally different speeds. In other words, if both reflex times alter equally (or close to each other), it highlights that that natural reflex time improvement would only be due to practice effect – hence the slower could only be the quicker, if the quicker didn’t practice – so the natural reflex time is consistent at a certain time in life.

-

To make the reflexes situation look slightly simpler, these figures to show more clearly:

Natural Reflex time
Person 1 (20 year old male) 1.00 second mean reaction time to a task

Person 2 (20 year old male) 0.55 second mean reaction time to a task

Person 2 has a quicker natural reflex time.

-

Let’s assume that Person 1 undergoes task training or practice, and the results now look like this:


Reflex time.

Person 1 0.55 second mean reaction time

Person 2 0.55 second mean reaction time

-

Person 1 and 2 now have identical reaction times. But Person 2’s time is a natural reaction time, and Person 1 has been altered by a practice effect, or exercises. If Person 2 were to undertake similar practice, and their time increases to a similar percentage of Person 1’s [1.0 to 0.55], then it would imply that though both sets of times are different, the margins remain the same. And if so, could mean that at no point would it be possible to Person 1 to overtake the time of Person 2, regardless of how much training would be done (assuming the training was of equal measure).

In this example, it seems possible that the time which person 1 and person 2 see the outside clock to their ‘our clock’ may be different.

*

Let me illustrate this with another example.

Cristiano Ronaldo.

I remember playing football as a young lad. I remember certain players (who were obviously better than me) being able to take the ball around me before I could react, or almost even see it coming. It wasn’t just me; they could do it to anyone. I could practice for hours, days, months, yet still they could get the ball around players. Skill, natural skill, and nurture probably contributed to this. When you watch professional footballers, like Ronaldo, he does the exact same around other professionals. Is it natural skill? Absolutely, would be the obvious answer, and perhaps is. Or does he see things just slightly slower too, which adds to that edge? If in my previous analogy, Person 1 and Person 2 were the equivalent Ronaldo and another professional. Is it possible that once again Person 1 could never catch Person 2?

* * *

Chapter 9 – Concepts of time – Part II

Mentally Self Manipulating Time

It was Saturday afternoon, Ecclesall Road, Hunter’s Bar, Sheffield. My car was out of action, and I wanted to get to town. It meant catching the bus. Good grief, a bus! I hate the smelly grubby things. I stood in the queue at the bus stop, it seemed like it was taking ages for the bus to arrive. I’d tried the cigarette trick but it hadn’t worked (if you are a smoker you will know the psychology behind the cigarette trick, if you don’t smoke, then start and you’ll soon discover it).

But what is the feeling of waiting ages? Our recognition of what time is, and how long things take?

It is our senses that give us this notion of time. If I shut one sense down, e.g. close my eyes, then how is time then perceived? At this point, my ears might take over this identification of time as I can hear the world going by. I can hear people talking, and I know how fast people talk, so the clock is still ticking. There might not be anyone talking, but cars are driving past and I know what car sounds are like, so I can ‘feel’ time passing based on the sound of the cars. Supposing I now plug my ears so I cannot hear anything. What is left to give my impression of time passing by? Is it my thoughts and the speed and time of these thoughts that I recognise, by the processing of them? I’m thinking of things (things like: which route to go in town? what I want to buy? what’s for tea? where’s this f****g bus? - that kind of thing), and I know that I think at a speed which is relatively similar to the speed to which I can talk. So, that gives me an idea of time.

I can’t make this bus come along any quicker!

Now imagine someone is stood in the middle of a huge icecap. They can see no movement – and nothing is casting a shadow, and there is no sound, it’s close to the pole and daylight is continuous, and they have no ability to think in a language, because they were never taught any (unlikely but that isn’t point), and they don’t have a watch, then what then consists of a long time with nothing to compare time with? Would they have any concept of what time is? Does that mean that time has to be learned?

It seems that the basics to understanding time, is conscious thought. If that someone and I stood on the icecap as in the previous paragraph, and we were both placed there for a (unknown) numbers of days: Would one year [for example] seem like a huge amount of time for me, but not for the other one?

If it’s possible to shut off thought processing yet stay awake, we could make the bus come straight away! It is a concept that is as close to time travel (forwards) as I can think of. Dulling or desensitizing conscious thought for a set amount of time, so you are immediately transferred to a point in the future, is an odd concept. It must be possible.

* * *

Chapter 9 – Concepts of time – Part III

Synchronicity and time, relating to differing species (and how we see that time)

Picture this please. You are sat on your comfy sofa, with the lights down low, and glass of your favourite wine or beer at your fingertips, and you’ve mistakenly clicked the wrong channel, and end up watching what seemed like a boring documentary, but this soon looks like a relaxing, and interesting programme on BBC2 which is about aquatic life. You have melted into the soft felt of the sofa to the point, that to change channels now seems like far too much of an arduous task to undertake.

The images on the screen are of a group of tiny fish. There are thousands of them in view, and they are swimming in unison. The synchronicity in the movement, and beautiful intensity of the blue colour that surrounds the fish, is almost hypnotic.

It is that beauty, and motion, that keeps you watching

*

The fish make swift, seemingly uniform movements, yet never clash. It’s a movement that mirrors the image we sometimes see in the sky, when birds fly in formation, then one changes direction and the rest almost instantaneously follow suit.

The narrator describes this movement as almost akin to the individual cells of a human body that work together. He was meaning the individual cells that bring into existence the very person you are now, reading this. However, they aren’t a collective that create a uniform being, it is closer to say that they are individuals acting as a collective.

They are representing unison, and in so creating (to us) a fabulous imagery display of devotion to each other’s protection, (or similar to cells), working in conjunction with each other to create an alliance, that is parallel to the existence of the entire life of another creature.

*

‘How does this happen?’ the narrator continues… ‘We’re not entirely sure’


*

Could this beautiful synchronicity in movement within this species, actually just be explained in simpler terms; by using and understanding our own species visibility and perception of time, and oppose this to what is seen as from a different perception (of time) in another species; and therefore, it’s really not that special?

As humans, we see the motion using our own perception of time. We see the motion of these fish as nimble, speedy and agile, but only because we haven’t yet recognised our perception of time, comparable to the relationship of other species’ perception of time. This would mean, our own complex brain misunderstands this synchronicity of other species merely because the time relation to movement (both visual and actual), alters from differing species.

For example:

The fish appear to move in an almost uniform movement without colliding. This movement ultimately has to have a starting point. In the example that I’ve used, the starting point could be a median point, so I will use that for the explanation. If the single ‘starting’ fish changes direction, let’s say to the left, the surrounding eight (or so) fish then turn to the left. The next fish (plural) surrounding the eight fish then turn left. As no two fish (of the eight) would now be at the same position in relation to the next nearest; the following next number has to also be random but considerably higher, so all the future following numbers are also random. The process results in an increase (of left turning fish [plural]) that is exponential. In this manner, this would produce an image, in our time of the wave effect that you see on the screen. Much like the wave effect you see in bird formation flying.

This whole action would seem in our mind time to be almost unbelievable, however in the mind time of the fish, it would be normal movement speed, and this explains why no two fish ever clash.

*
Thinking time, moving time

Our human brains work at exceptional speeds, however, we can’t move as quickly as we can think.

The next example is similar to the last section, but on a slightly different level, or dimension.

Example:

Our communication receiving skills work as fast, sometimes even faster than the giver of the communication!

If I was in a room with 10 people who were all sat on chairs. And I said ‘everyone stand up and walk to the far wall then back again, then reseat yourselves’ And let’s assume that they act upon this communication, following the guidance.

Even before I’ve completed the sentence, the 10 people’s understanding of my communication has already been comprehended - including the movement part of standing up, but they wouldn’t have done it yet. Even before any movement has occurred they would know what actions are about to follow.

During the movement process, none of the people collide with each other.

Supposing this entire routine was being observed by a ‘super’ species, which perceives time at an altered but increased time to ourselves, they would see the uniform action, just as we saw the fish moving earlier. But to the 11 people in the room, it would seem like an action at our own pace.
 
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Chapter 17

An observation based on hierarchies in society, and the achievability of complete social equality.

Hypothesis: Is it possible that most people have an instinctive inclination to want to better themselves amidst inconspicuously formed hierarchies, which in turn means that social equality is unachievable?

Part I – Hierarchies and social group formation in early life


Hierarchies can occur in different ways; some arise naturally in life; many are created by us; some of them we are externally placed in; and some we choose to join. Whichever of these categories, they are everywhere and can be easily observed in the home; in school; at work; within social groups, and as a society as a whole.

Using my memory of young life, I have observed that hierarchies developed in different forms of social groups at an early age, and early social groups were noticeable to observe by early school age. My earlier memories of nursery (or pre-school as I believe it is called now), was of virtually no exclusion or natural segregation or disassociation between the sexes, however, by the time I had reached first school (primary school), social groups appear to have started establishing themselves. The first sign of social group formation was predominantly the split of boys and girls, and I recall no early social groups formed by class, wealth, or ethnicity. It seems that within these groups (boys and girls), further social groups started to develop. These would be the first signs of hierarchy formation, firstly internally - within each social group; and externally - each entire social group in comparison to other groups. This was a slow process and by the end of first school, they hadn’t established themselves as being easily identifiable (other than male groups and female groups), because they were in a developmental stage, however, by middle (Junior) school, I can remember how these subgroups were clearly detectable and describable, to anyone studying such matters.

*It has to be noted that this section of the observation is largely based on, and about, the male groups.

Middle School (Junior School)

The entire consolidated schooling societal hierarchy would become ordered by large social subgroups and their position as a whole, in relation to other subgroups. The large social sub-groups that I can recall were based around four [loosely described] sub-groups: the ‘hard kids’; the ‘clever kids’; the ‘good football players’; and finally the ‘median’ group (this group contains probably the most number of people – it housed kids that weren’t particularly outstanding performers of anything – but, some fitted in with one or more of the three other groups). Within each of these sub-groups, its fraternity or ‘crew’ considered itself at the top of the overall hierarchy, and better than the other groups – most probably based on the groups’ own perceived attributed idiosyncrasy. An example of this, might be that the ‘clever kids’ considered themselves to be on the crest of the overall hierarchy based on their intellect, and that they were above the ‘footballers’, with their own view that the ‘footballers’ could only inconceivably believe that they were better than their own. On the flipside, the ‘footballers’ would consider them above the ‘clever kids’ because ‘clever kids’ were considered geeks or nerds.

In actual fact, at this age, both of them were wrong. The hierarchy was topped by the ‘hard lads’ - who didn’t care, hence could give or take, when it comes to being clever or good at football. Despite the seemingly obvious contradiction, one of the ‘hard lads’ who might have been either good at football, clever, or both, would be the top of their own social group (the hard kids).

These hierarchies each believing their own superiority, balance each of the sub-groups out and create a mini-society. One of which is a framework of how life will pan out in the adult world that they were to eventually join.

There are exceptions of course. What happens when someone doesn’t fit into any of the said groups? This is where the sub-groups and their balances create a bigger picture – this is within the entire ‘mini-society’, and how people try to place themselves in the society at large. At school, the kids who didn’t fit into any of the social groups were often the ones that were persecuted for striving to belong to one of them. It seems cruel to think of, but that’s what I saw. Generally they were only rescued by one of the median group.

The earlier suggestion that there was a contradiction in the ‘hard lads’ social group, highlights that hierarchies develop within social groups. The ‘hard lad’ who can play football and is clever is the one that people in that social group aspire to be like. The same can be said in all the other groups (though perhaps less so in the median group). The bullied individuals who found themselves ostracized by all the groups, aspired to fit in with the lowest of the groups, and within each of the groups, people would strive to be the forerunner in their said group.

Of course, this isn’t quite as straight forward as I have observed, because within any society (or this case mini-society) there are a multitude of separate groups that each includes many people from the different main groups. An example with these different groupings could be seen with regards to football: people in my school supported various football teams – mainly United and Wednesday, but also Liverpool (who were coincidently superior at the time), and the actions and success of the said teams would create a separate social standing.

Perhaps the Liverpool supporters were artificially placing themselves at the top, because despite the constant arguments between ‘Unitedites’ and ‘Wednesdayites’ at school, both clubs were inferior to Liverpool by a long way at the time. These different types of sub-groupings are separate to the main hierarchy, so when the type of group (in this case, football) is not required or used, then this group is temporarily forgotten, and there is a reversion to the main subgroups.

- - -

Part II – Hierarchies after school, including social groups, trade groups, social class and the resulting equalities/inequalities that form.

Part I touched on hierarchies in early life, as groups formed to create an earlier form of ‘mini-society’. This next section moves on to teenage life and beyond.

Feeling ‘accepted’ is a fundamental part of teenage life. I recall finding my ‘social group’, but I remember that others didn’t – or they felt that their standing in their own group didn’t befit their own ego. When this occurred, then rival groups would form with other disbanded people. Gangs are easily formed when the hierarchy is unstable in a social group. Gangs always have leaders, and gangs have a simple or easy mechanism for upping status within them. It is because of this, that they can easily captivate people and absorb them into their hierarchy*.

* As with part I, this is predominantly looking at how boys conceptualized their society, and is again from the perspective of a boy – the nearest I can recall to the female equivalent at the time, was when cliques formed. These cliques appeared to arise and form in much the same way as the boys.
My recollection of another link to females was cliques amongst the boys who considered themselves to be at the peak of the entire ‘mini-societal hierarchy’.

So in the ideology, a perfect balance in the mini-society would be met in the entire hierarchy when all positions are filled within social groups. This is highly unlikely if the hypothesis in part one is correct. It would mean that a perfect balance can never truly be met. There is always offshoot (groups) for people to find acceptance elsewhere. In the case when I was a teenager, this offshoot was generally a gang.

- - -

This observation so far has been based on my youth (the 1970s and 80s), so it is possible that there might be differences in today’s society. However, the media appear to portray their negative views of today’s youth in a similar manner (though more far-fetched!) to similar concepts and mechanisms of my observations and earlier hypotheses.

Before I could try and speculate on how I think society appears to flow in today’s society, I had to think about what society was like in the past. Western society has changed to a huge extent since our industrial revolution, and to understand today’s society, it’s important to briefly explore society at and prior to, the period of industrialisation. Prior to huge city formations, people had less autonomy with their lifestyle choice and work life. Village life and few transport links would have meant that hierarchies were more isolated to village or town life. Family based hierarchies and perhaps ecclesiastical influence or ideology would have perhaps had more influence than that of today. Children would have pretty much known their life paths from a much younger age than today. In the smaller communities where there would have been little choice, and without such luxuries of social benefit being available, work choice would have been entirely based on the ‘trade’ in a particular area.

(Side note – think about your own ancestry, and which area they lived in, it will give you a reasonable idea to what your work life would have consisted of if you were born 100 years ago. For me it would have been one of two occupations and would have been almost certain, with my limited qualifications; either down the pit had my family stayed in the villages around West Yorkshire; or had I been where I am now in Sheffield – then more likely a trade within the steel industry).

These certainties aren’t often applicable in today’s society (in particular in city life), so it seems inevitable that more choice means more groups to fit into, and therefore a difference in the way that the societal hierarchy forms in comparison to, say 100 years ago. The increased group numbers in the trade and labour sections would create many more social partitions (or branches), and most certainly meant more social classes, as these new groups found their way or place in society. Since the early twentieth century when rural populations were declining and cities were blossoming, there will unavoidably be a creation of more social classes, as autonomy increases for the work-force. More social groups and more social classes over time will, and do clash with each other - over issues of equality in the newly formed metropolis way of life. This would lead to an alteration in the complete societal hierarchy within the country’s system.

My opinion of this would be that without any intervention from any of the higher groups within the system of groups, problems could lead to civil unrest, even a civil war. In any case, intervention or not, it seems certain that lower groups (or based on the class system – i.e. lower positions in the labour force) will group together to combine more strength. It seems that to keep this strength from being too powerful that the elite in the system would have to intervene by manipulating financial redistribution to make the system ‘appear’ that equality is being recognised, administered and being achieved.

‘This intervention in itself would seem to rest or hinge on naivety within the lower classes. All that’s needed to recognise that this manipulation is a subterfuge to coerce the population might be found in the highest part of the lower groups in the system. This person or group can further influence the lower classes into getting more wealth, and create a finer balance of equality in the entire system by using strength in numbers. A fine thinker, some financial backing and a tremendous orator would fit this position well’.

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Much like the way the groupings work in the first part of the chapter, most of the lowest in the hierarchy have little desire to stay there. In the past in rural districts, lack of transportation and lack information would keep people/communities or groups naïve and cemented in their position in society, whereas in the more modern city life where technological advancement in media and information exchange means that people can quite easily identify their own position in society. By joining together to try to gain a closer balance to societal equilibrium, they leave a gap, the gap being: no one wanting to do what they themselves don’t want to do. This in turn means that to create societal equilibrium comes at a cost.

The cost will be the ability to compete against countries that are not at the stage that this one would have been in. The idealistic perfect society where equality has been achieved inevitably would mean there are trades that no one wants to do, but this deficiency can be easily absorbed by lawless competing trading countries. (For example: if we create a collective of all our social classes, groups and trades… as a whole that is our countries collective, and has to compete in the global hierarchy… our country would find a place where it fits in to the global economy.)

The imbalance of this global hierarchy is that we are all working to different rules, laws, work practices and social benefits. Work practices, especially, give other countries the ability undercut that of countries with more stringent regulations, such as health and safety. The cost of this trade change, simply means poor people in other countries can pay for their vital needs for survival, by working the jobs that no one wants to do in the more developed hierarchies… and within the global balance, the richest will benefit most greatly by absorbing the material goods that are cheaply produced by poorer countries.

‘As this becomes (or became) commonplace, the globalisation is in effect restarting the process and chain of events that our own industrialisation created, but on a global scale. By the 50s and 60s when global transportation became accessible to the masses, then population movement is also akin to an individual countries own movement from rural to city based industrialisation. i.e.: Global movement, and ease of transport and trade links and trade redistribution mean that the global hierarchy is a larger version of previous smaller ones’.

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Globalisation essentially is a creation of new mega hierarchy (comparable to the smaller scale version from hundreds of years ago in the form of colonization and empires).

This is a full scale circle of altering balances and it continues today. It can never be stable with the current framework. As rich countries get richer or people in the richer countries absorb the concept of materialism, then more poor areas or groups in other parts of the world are required to join the circle, as they continue to do today.

This circle could be worded differently as ‘progress’ or ‘going forward’, which it is! But with this cycle and its current and continued configuration, there can never be societal equilibrium without further intervention. In the framework that hierarchies are formed, the only possible way for total balance or social equality is for huge areas of forced segregation, or perhaps equal social benefits and work practices for everyone in every country. The current system will never reach a balance, and it’s inevitable that the result will be continued warring and poverty in certain areas. Our western society attempts to infiltrate natural hierarchy formation to create an artificial equilibrium by using social benefit as the tool.
 
Mayfair

Mayfair

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Chapter 30: Modern Society: A concept of ‘normalised materialism’; and a hypothesis on its effect in modern western society
PART I

First of all, I want you to think of humans in poverty. Think for a few moments what the word ‘poverty’ means to you.
My prediction (on the basis that you have some life experience), is that for a brief moment, you thought of what poverty would mean for you – however this was quickly overridden by images of malnourished young African children. Am I correct? Perhaps not, and this chapter isn’t about poverty, per se. Nonetheless, since this chapter is a hypothesis based on observation of modern society, you will need to have a reasonable concept in your mind, to what poverty means to you.

Basic Human Needs
Basic and essential human needs are primarily food and water. Remove the word ‘essential’, and shelter and security can also be considered as basic human needs. Someone without any one or more of these (or with insufficient means to access or to supply self and dependants) I would consider to be living in real poverty, and unlikely to live for a long time, if this is sustained. Once these needs are met, it would seem or imply that life should be (at least) satisfactory; and for many current tribes, and most of our ancestors was clearly satisfactory otherwise we wouldn’t be here. (It is fair to point out that tribes with little or no exposure of western society can be ruled out of this hypothesis, because they have no/little knowledge of it)

So why is this not enough for most people? What is next?
Three of the four that were suggested earlier are physical things and one (security) could be either physical, emotional, or a combination.
What follows as being a further step; I will argue, is efficiency. If all the basic needs are met, then in a small community, efficiency can be described as job sharing/splitting – i.e. if a community has a population of 20 people, then it would be inefficient to have 20 people who spend their entire day fishing for food, or hunting for food. The community can help sustain itself more efficiently by splitting tasks and sharing the results.
With this community’s four basic needs met, and efficiency added, then the meaning of the word ‘poverty’ now alters when observed from another society (dependant on both whether the other society has access to have more than these five entities, or who have one or more of these five entities missing); and using this basis of inference, I’ll propose that the word ‘poverty’ (when used to describe societies) continually changes and is never constant as a meaning from society to society, and within societies. It will always be a fluid concept when there is more than one person in a community, and the definition of the word is not distinct amongst communities with time and technological advancement, and our perception of it. In other words: The word poverty changes in its meaning (or at least has different meaning depending on your location and society), and the meaning is a reflection of the affluence of a society (and an individual in it) at a particular point in time in history. However, by including ‘efficiency’ as part of the topic, then that is to say that affluence of a society is by no means restricted to money and possessions, as will be looked in to.
Basic essential human needs don’t change, but this chapter will seek to use observational evidence to show that perceptions of what it means to be poor do change, and it will show that these perceptions change with each following generation, as the availability of goods and services changes. This hypothesis will propose that eventually societies will NOT be content with basic human needs for contentment, and that it is actually based on what is available to people in a society; and furthermore, human needs are constantly expanding in developed and undeveloped countries. This will be argued by drawing from information and observation of western society. The reason for the principles that will be laid out and the evidence for this, will be shown by demonstrating a concept of western society’s ‘normalised materialism’.
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Poverty in the western world
I recently read a book titled ‘Weerz mi Dad’ by Fred Pass. It is his story of being a young boy in a 1950s industrial town. They lived in a ‘One-up-one-down’ terraced property, typical of the way many people lived at the time. Quite often, large families were living in run-down poorly built accommodation based around a kitchen/lounge, and a bedroom upstairs. The toilet was outside in the yard, and shared with the neighbours. His father worked in industry and supplied the household income, and the mother did pretty much everything else. He describes life as very much ‘hand to mouth’. Despite this, it appears that the parents didn’t complain a great deal, and still provided an excellent upbringing for their children in spite of having very little in terms of money and possessions. The way that he describes the community is very much one of togetherness and sharing, and it seemed that the living conditions from house to house could be very different depending on the number of children the family had. There are no references to anyone looking down on someone else (within the close community) because of lack of finances, and it [standard of living] appears to have just been known amongst the community, rather than openly discussed.
Whilst gathering references when reading Fred Pass’s book, I noticed that his dad and his dad didn’t really have much to think about other than making a living. The men left school early in life, went to work, that’s all they knew. Women would bring up the kids and do all the thinking, and the men just worked all week, then drank beer at the weekend.
The book tells a story of living in such harsh conditions that we in modern western society would perhaps consider as quite severe poverty. Comparing 50 years ago with today – being poor then versus what people consider to be poor today is a staggeringly different. First, these were working families, and few other options were available to them. Compare to modern day UK, and there are very few people living like this (note: reports appear regularly in the newspapers regarding percentages of children living in poverty – something that prompts much of this paper, that is, definitions of the word poverty). In today’s society, even people without jobs and people who have never worked can claim benefits and live a far more comfortable life than the people mentioned 50 years ago in my book reference.
I can find references that state that 1 in 3 children are living in poverty in this country today, and that the majority of these are in working homes*. That’s 1 in 3 children live in poverty today in the United Kingdom. The definition of poverty must be different to what I consider it to be, so this area will be looked at. Still, this highlights that the definition of poverty and my perceptions of it, changes with time – in addition, the latter statistic on the website states that there are more children on poverty in working families than in non-working families, which seems perplexing, so both pieces of information will be looked at in more detail.
Pass spoke of many children going to school in rags, hand me downs, and re-patched and repaired footwear, and some were visibly malnourished. In modern western society it would be classed by society as poverty if a child went to school in rags (even if the rags met the needs of their purpose). Have you as the reader, and if you are a parent, seen in recent times a third of children going to school in rags and/or malnourished? **
*endchildpoverty.org.uk
** if you have a keen eye for logic and reason, then you will notice that I have used fallacious logic in my argument, which is a bit naughty to say the least. If you didn’t notice it, then you are most likely a member of society who is easily seduced by the common use of flawed logic for the purpose of influencing you in to a line of thought, using the inherently misleading nature of statistics, and logic. Most people are this way, so you are in the majority, and it is why tabloids sell a huge number of papers.
Facts like ‘1 in 3 children live in poverty’ is a way of using statistics in this way – many other platforms use this type of influencing for a cause: politicians; issuers of criminal statistics; and the media are all experts at it, and it’s an easy method to use, because most of us don’t wish to look in to the statistics with a fine toothcomb, and why would we? If the police say ‘crimes figures are down’ – we assume this authority is telling the truth, which it most probably is, if they select the right information to highlight certain figures.
To explain my deliberate logical flaw further, this statistic states that 1 in 3 children live in poverty. I then questioned this statement by asking you whether a third of children that you observe going to school are malnourished or dressed in rags. This logic is entirely flawed – yet this type of argument is commonly used in media and politics. It is flawed because I know how the 1 in 3 statistic was compiled, and I know that at no point does it consider poverty in terms of how children are clothed or fed. It is actually constructed by looking at how many families live in a household with an income below 60 percent of median income in the UK, and that is after Income Tax, National Insurance, council tax, rent/mortgage, and water rates have been paid*. Basically, it is how much you have to live on. (2005 figures are £268/wk for 2 adults with 2 children; £186/wk for 1 adult, 2 children; £183/wk for 2 adult, 0 children; £100/wk for 1 adult, 0 children;**).
* parliament.uk/commons/lib/rp2004
**poverty.org.uk
In effect, the 1 in 3 figure could be made to show any figure it likes by altering some factors slightly, dependant on who is compiling the statistics, and for what objective. This way of calculating poverty, you can either accept or dismiss.
There are other versions of how the state calculate figures (and in fact countless different sources who all draw from different figures), but aren’t included in this statistic; one of which is the minimum amount of money required to live on (this figure could also be questioned of course!), and this minimum is met by payments of social benefits – however, how the money is spent is not considered, nor questioned. For example, it could be argued that a family living on the minimum possible amount of money to live on could be classed as poor (in comparison to any higher earners), but if the child isn’t fed and clothed sufficiently because of an omission of adequate budgeting by the child’s primary carer, then the poverty of the child is a consequence of poor caring, rather than a child in poverty due to lack of income (or you could use this argument for highest earners or any earners! – earnings of a household don’t necessarily mean a child won’t be in poverty due to omission of care by its primary carer)
My use of flawed logic was a deliberate act to show what this chapter aims to highlight, in that the meaning of the word or perception of poverty has no solid meaning. The use of observation by asking whether you see malnourished or badly clothed children (i.e. an observational measure of poverty, whether carers fault or lack of income) was used because it’s a visible indication, to which you can conclude by your own wish to whether you consider the 1 in 3 statistic to be an accurate representation of western society or not.


Efficiency and knowledge
Observing people in today’s society can be used to demonstrate an understanding of the time and effort required for many everyday tasks (often menial tasks), and these observations may offer information into a lack of appreciation and lack of knowledge of efficiencies (or in fact, lack of knowledge through lack of experience). Appreciation for efficiency and technology only appears to occur when one has experienced older versions of an efficiency based technology, and former living standards, and it is they who will have this knowledge of efficiency.
Let’s look at four examples:

1. Conveniences
I was watching a documentary programme about ‘slum’ clearances in the 1950s, and the new homes that replaced them in newly designed neighbourhoods/estates. The new homes had indoor toilets which were described by the new occupiers as complete luxury, as were the concepts of multi-room properties and better hygiene facilities. The pride with which these occupiers felt induced them to treat their new found luxuries with appreciation. Since only one generation experienced this change in luxury convenience, and understood and this from both angles, then they were pretty much the only generation to experience and hence appreciate this luxury. What was considered a luxury became normal across the country in a relatively short period of time. I’m unaware of any new build homes these days that don’t have an inside toilet; and the majority of older properties were converted to have indoor plumbing throughout the century. This luxury became considered a norm in a relatively short time span. It was soon accepted, then not even thought about. The point at where we are at today at this time of writing (2008), is that all the properties that I see advertised do not mention that the property has an inside toilet – in fact the only selling point for toilets is if there are more than one in the property. In one following generation it ceased to be even considered as a luxury, and now isn’t considered a luxury at all – I would guess that most of the young generation would consider the idea of not having an indoor toilet as quite grotesque.
Ask your children how they would feel if you told them that you were moving the toilet outside.
I know of no people in my generation who have ever only had the use of outside toilets, so I would propose that all of my generation don’t have this appreciation (the effect of change in society in terms of appreciation and recognition of modern technology and material luxuries and efficiencies in modern life). There are many other household appliances that could be considered similarly to the toilet issue. Washing machines; irons; hot running water; central heating; light bulbs – each of which is an efficiency device designed to reduce the effort required to undertake previously time consuming tasks. All of the above in the list are generally accepted now as the norm, and if any of them are removed, our abilities to perform everyday tasks will be tested.
These are all efficiency based items, and it has been shown how these items become internalized into our daily living, they are effectively what are now considered ‘the norm’.

How about non-efficiency based technologies that we have normalized?
2. Technology and entertainment
It was Christmas 1981, and I became the proud owner of one of the first widely available home computers. It was a Sinclair ZX81. It had 1k (bumped up to 16k with a RAM pack), and it produced no colour, no sound, and only had very basic graphics. You loaded a game via a tape-player which took a few minutes, and then if you were lucky, the game would load. I had a few games, some that can I remember: Flight Simulator, Labyrinth, 3D Monster Maze and my favourite – Football Manager. It took a second or so to load each page, and nothing really resembled anything like what the game title suggested. Even with all this in mind, my brother and I spent countless hours playing on it and then for quite a few years after, as the then older ZX81 was moved to my Grandma’s house for use there when we moved up to a new level – the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k.
(Note: thanks to one technology, I don’t have to explain the games in detail – you can search any of these on YouTube, and see the standard of game play for yourself)
When the ZX Spectrum 48k came on the market a few years after the ZX81, it seemed to completely dwarf the ZX81. It could produce sounds, and 8 colours. At the time, I recall being amazed by it – this at the time, was technology beyond belief for us as children. There was a progression with these computers that amongst my circle of friends, almost all went along the same lines of Spectrum >Commodore 64/ or Amstrad 6128>Commodore Amiga, before the age of the PC started to take over, alongside games consoles. With each of these stages, we would discuss what they could possibly do that would be better than this! Fast forward 20 years, and the technology that we are seeing on PCs and consoles like the Play Station are beyond the beliefs that we had as children. I find the graphics and game play on these newest consoles breathtaking, yet the child of today sees it as normal. Again, this lack of knowledge that was highlighted earlier with efficiency based materials has the similarities of normality and expectancies that only the people who lived through the changes can truly appreciate. One could argue that technologies will change again, and the children now will appreciate the newer technologies – however, I think that considering the graphics and game play have progressed to almost an alternative reality, that future changes will be in a different aspect of the way that a game is played, rather than the graphics and sound. What my generation saw, was the beginning of this technology to the masses, and the changes in how realistic graphics would become. I feel this would be hard to top. I don’t have a games console, but I use my computer quite a lot – typing my writing up for one thing – and using internet/computer devices to assist with my spelling. I would miss having a computer, and the internet, as I have developed a part of my life over time to rely upon it to a certain extent. I expect to be able to use my computer when I wish to, and since it is present in my house, then I consider it to have been normalized within my environment; however, I appreciate it.
Do you or your children have a computer or a games console? If the answer is yes, and the computer or console are used, then if they were taken away, would how would you or (more importantly) your children react?

3. Communication and Information Exchange
I have had the internet for a few years now, and learned how to chat voice to voice with people in the USA using my computer. The people who I am chatting with are just people who I have got to know whilst playing cards online. I’ve made quite a lot of friends in the US using this, and a group of us regularly all meet up in voice-chat and have a conference call.
One day whilst using a messenger application it suddenly occurred to me how incredible this process was. These instantaneous multi-person conversations were seamless communications across vast areas.
*Pre-1850, it took 10 days to get a message from one side of the Atlantic to the other, by ship. In the 1850s onwards as large cables were attempted to be laid across the 2300 mile Atlantic seabed. When they managed to get a cable to work; Queen Victoria sent the first message (in Morse code) to the US president in 1858. Each character of the message took several minutes to arrive in the US, and the message took 17 hours in total to send. The cable only lasted a month before it was unusable. In the later cables, the rate of sending could reach 8 words per minute. It wasn’t until the 20th Century that speeds of 120 words per minute was achieved. This was just one message between countries. Here I am 100 years later, and I have my own cable in my house, to which I can send not only Morse coded messages, but type or speak to anyone else in the world who has a cable too.
*Ref: adapted from Wikipedia

4. Entertainment Technology
There has never been a time during my growing up when there wasn’t a television in the house. I believe it was very early 80s when we got our first colour TV. It was rented, and it came with a video recorder (VCR). The first time I had a TV in my bedroom was around that same time, it was a small black and white portable which could receive all three channels. I knew a few people who grew up without televisions, but it was quite rare by the 80s. Soon video recorders were also commonplace.
Ask yourself this, is a TV a luxury?
Is it a necessity?, or an irrelevant question now, as this is now normalized (a way to use this thought is ask yourself this – in the 1980s if someone tells you they don’t own a TV, your first assumption may have been that someone can’t afford one; however, today when someone doesn’t own a TV, first thoughts might be that they are a weirdo or odd). Today, people who don’t have a television use personal choice, rather than cost as not to own one.
Of the four items listed (inside bathroom; computers and games consoles; telecommunications; and television), two of the these I have seen grow from practically nothing with my own eyes and experience; and the other two I grew up with, so have no experience of never having them. Computers and telecommunications (in particular mobile) I have more appreciation for as I can remember what it was like before they were practically in everyone’s use. I do have experience of not having a television set, and it didn’t bother me too much (however I did have the internet at the time), but I have no experience of living somewhere without an inside toilet, so I have only others’ writing with which to compare with.

Information Exchange and materialism
When you think of materialism, it may be the case that you consider this to be associated with physical objects, such as the gadgets (that have been discussed), or money and possessions; however, part of the changes in western society are built around another aspect highlighted at the beginning of this chapter, which is that of efficiency. It can be considered that what has been analysed in this chapter demonstrates that this it isn’t necessarily the products themselves that make up the term materialistic, but in fact a function, which is to produce efficiency or time saving.
Information exchange is a form of efficiency, and appears to becoming a material ‘object’ ready for absorption into society and soon to be normalized. For example, today, this is being shown in the form of social networking, whereby sites are designed to encourage information exchange for purposes of advertising (amongst other things), and this is done by making sites subconsciously entice members to crave revisiting the site (a continuous cycle of information exchange creating more and so on).
With information technology, the normality aspect of the entire concept is observable quite easily. In this case, because the expectation of use is caused by the continuous cycle mentioned above.


Early conclusions based on these analyses
‘What we were once thankful for, gradually becomes the norm, unappreciated and unrecognised. Once we aren’t appreciative for what we once were thankful for, then we seek, or, are faced with more new material things or efficiencies to make us thankful. These in turn also becomes the norm, and so on. With 100 years of this of cycle (I consider the last hundred years to be the fastest in terms of technological and societal change in the western world), then the original things that were thankful for are then demanded for, and this can be seen if there is a chance that a supply becomes under threat – this is a type of subconscious, unnoticed, enslavement’. Ash, 2009
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Although there are differences in some aspects, such as expectation; appreciation; perceived necessity; and requirement, they all still have a path that leads to normality. When what follow are unnoticed normality, and when/after this point is reached, then normality means that it is expected. For example: When I rent a property, I expect there to be an inside toilet, running water, heating, electricity, etc.
Here is the order. It starts with somebody’s vision; then a reality; the stuff for the super rich (at the time); then luxury item; then available to more, and eventually to all (within a specific society); then commonplace; then expected; then less appreciated; then the norm. Add one generation on to this, and it becomes unrecognised, hence normalized. This process happens and demonstrates by the expectation factor, what is at the heart of the concept of normalized materialism.
Other possible examples are cars; ready meals; microwaves; central heating; fast food; multi TV channels; TV recording boxes; clean running water in your home; illuminating a room with a press of a switch; all fit into this category too, though the list could be very long if one thinks for a moment!





















Part II
A view to looking at possible effects on a society based around the concept of normalised materialism


If the concept of normalised materialism is a correct one, then Part II looks at possible causes and effects of it, as well as making predictions for testing the concept. Part I was to demonstrate the principles of what the concept means. The concept is an observable one in everyday life, and shows changes within societies, and in comparison with other societies.
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To recap its meaning, consider these things: Appreciation; Availability; Requirement; Expectation; Perception of necessity; and whether something is demanded for. These constructs are the central basis for the concept of normalised materialism, they are all central to its meaning. Each fluctuates with time in a particular society, but not necessarily in unison – for example, the requirement for something that has been made available, may become expected once the appreciation for it has lessened, and it has been considered to be the norm. If appreciation is lessened and expectation has increased, this then may alter the perception of necessity. If something is perceived as necessity, then it will become demanded for, when the appreciation for it is recognised, following a withdrawal or lack of availability of said the necessity.
It is important to note that there is nothing inherently wrong with being materialistic. The concept isn’t about being materialistic, it is about the perceptions of needs, and this becoming unrecognised by normalizing of materialistic products or efficiencies within services, and how society has /and is changing because of it.

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This leads to more questions:
Is this process a good or a bad thing?
What positives and negatives can be found in society because of it?
Is it natural progression, or influenced by something else?
What effects in society could be attributed to this construct?

Think of these questions for a moment and answer them in your head.
Consider what your life would be like if you had no mobile phone, no running water in the house, no central heating, no supermarket or shops, no electricity in the house etc.
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Next, there will be some examples for you to consider, and whether you think that the cause and effect could be influenced by the concept.
Electricity is a good first example – my electricity went off for the whole day recently, and I was shocked at how useless I felt. I couldn’t cook, couldn’t watch TV/internet, couldn’t run a bath, couldn’t see (it was night time), couldn’t charge my phone to ring anyone. One appreciates the power, when it is taken away for a while!

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Let us look at the first question, and search for some examples in society.
Is this process a good or a bad thing?
By looking further at the examples that have been cited, a focal point in all of the examples is a form of reliance forming when we are exposed to new technologies or efficiencies, and we have the availability of them. We once (using the 50years ago analogy) had to go to the postbox or post office to send mail; we had to go to a local telephone box to call someone; we had to leave the house to buy groceries; we had to leave the house to go to work (in most cases). I often hear people use the phrase ‘where will it all end?’ – Well it most probably won’t end. However, I can use this phrase to imagine us at some time in the future, not even having to move from a chair?! Many could work from home, using computer technology; order food and groceries without having to leave the chair, using the internet; pay bills; communicate with others; form relationships – almost everything required to live could be done with practically no movement; all with the use of information exchange. If information technology continues to grow (which it almost certainly will), we may not have to even type on a keyboard! Perhaps one day in the future, some kind of device could attach to our heads, and all of these duties could be carried out literally without having to move. Granted, this is a doubtful eventuality! But, nevertheless, by comparing our duties today with the 50 years ago scenario mentioned in part one; it’s quite possible that they couldn’t imagine our availability of information and communications technology just a few years into the future.
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Could this concept be a bad thing?
One attribute which is clearly and visibly observable in everyday society, is that lack of appreciation for material goods and efficiencies ultimately leads to a certain degree of increased greed. Modern society is changing very quickly and it’s easy to get left behind with certain technologies and it means that people are in many ways pressured into spending money that they haven’t got. Advertising and finance companies know this and target the markets using expert analysts and often mind boggling clever strategies. If the availability of finance was taken away, then the economy would very likely quickly collapse (perhaps only short term), so it relies on technologies’ to change, and keep people buying it, and often borrowing to keep the cycle going, in a form of circular effect. Both need both, but an advantage of this is that it places many hundreds of thousands in employment. When answering one of the later questions there will be an essential factor (that of efficiency) which could collapse the workforce within this circle of events.
An example of this circle in action (at least now in the early 21st Century) is the mobile phone. If you have a mobile phone, then consider how many times that you have changed this device, since you first owned one. If you don’t have a mobile phone, but know someone who does, then ask them how many they have owned, and if more than one, to why they purchased a different one.
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Could the concept be a bad thing?
If the concept does in fact stimulate greed in society (unintentionally or by sub-conscious means, but occurring none the less), then once the ‘normalised’ aspect comes into play, it will be considered as normal life, of course. When considering that greed is often synonymous with many unpleasant attributes – selfishness; shamelessness; self-indulgence; self-centeredness; then it appears to make for quite a dull picture. However, some of these characteristics and closely related ones were/are essential for survival, so let’s not be too downhearted.
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What positives can be found in a society because of it?
The most obvious positive that I consider for UK society, is to the service industry. Since the manufacturing industry which employed a vast number of people has largely declined, then people need to find other methods of finding employment. The manufacturing industry has largely moved to countries where pay/conditions are far worse than in this society, hence they can market much cheaper products. The argument that I placed in the first part of the chapter was that poverty can be viewed differently from society to society – here is a great example of it. Is the manufacturing to the masses in poor countries a positive matter or a negative matter? Do we, in this society even care about pay and conditions of these people? Are we in fact doing them a favour with our normalised materialism, because they are working rather than not? If it wasn’t for our information technology and ease of access to information, it’s likely that we would have little or no knowledge of their conditions.
If the circle of events (or advancement) ceased in this society, it could cause in the worst case scenario, a catastrophic rise in poverty in these other societies who have built their industry around other societies like ours, and they perhaps depend on the circle of events continuing.
There is one final point to this question – the technology advancements that we are absorbing within this circle are creating efficiencies themselves that are replacing the need for human work, i.e. we’re putting ourselves out of work.
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What negatives can be found in a society because of it?
If we assume that an increase in greed is a consequence of the construct then another factor of the concept comes into play, expectancy; we expect things. When an item is expected, it may become demanded for and perceived as a necessity.
An example of this can be observed in children. Not particularly young children, because learning what one can and can’t have is a natural way of learning for a young child, but slightly older children – in particular children who are old enough to see advertisements (for example, on television). Their perception of necessity is highly vulnerable and open to fall into the idea of expectancy, I would argue. If this wasn’t the case, then advertisers would NOT target this market with such almost inconceivable endeavor. If you need convincing of this, and the genius of marketing, then concentrate on some products, observe how they are made popular, then watch how they are marketed at the next Christmas.
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What negatives can be found in a society because of it?
With expectancy occurring due to efficiencies being normalised, it may create a more laziness in an individual. I would argue that this is observable in society at this point in time. If we look at the examples that I’ve used earlier, then have we all fallen into this to some extent?
Also:
“Why do I have to do this, when I can just do that?”
Everyday examples: washing duties, repairing something rather than buying a new one, living off the state rather than working, the list is endless.
“Why bother doing something, which can be done by something/someone else?”
Examples: fast-food and convenience food instead of cooking. All normalised now.
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What negatives can be found in a society because of it?
Earlier in this section, it was mentioned that being materialistic isn’t implicitly a bad thing for someone to be. There have probably been materialistic people throughout the entire history of human life. However, if almost an entire society becomes materialistic, then there are more issues that could possibly seriously negatively affect a society. If people haven’t worked for their material goods, or expect them, and/or use finance as the short term way of acquiring these items, and it becomes the normal way of life – then this could affect many aspects which could be considered important to individual well-being; namely feeling of accomplishment, fulfillment, attainment, achievement etc. This could be a book in itself, so instead of continuing this line of thought, there will be a few examples for you to think about:
If you couldn’t afford to buy your child a games console that every other kid has got, would/or have you borrowed money to pay for it? The child would perhaps consider themselves to be poor if they were the only one not to have one!
When you were young, did you do odd jobs to pay for something that you wanted? Or did you save money by giving something up to buy something you wanted?
Have you crimpled and saved to pay for a deposit on a mortgage, or did you borrow all of the money? Whichever you did, would you have preferred to have done the other option?
Have you ever cooked a meal for a large group of people, and watched them devour it? Or, have you ever bought a large takeaway (take-out) order to feed a large group of people?
If you have done both, they which was more satisfying?

All of these examples absorb one or more of the constructs of this concept, in these examples I can spot, efficiency, appreciation, requirement, availability, and perception of necessity.
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Is it natural progression, or influenced by something else?



What effects in society could be attributed to this construct?
Today, TV programmes often show the narrators asking kids ‘why are you hanging around on street corners?’ (Often it seems, implying bad behaviour) – The kids reply that ‘there is nothing to do’. In fact there’s never been a time in history when there have been so many things to do. However, because a lot of the ‘once luxury’ activities are considered and accepted as normal actions, they are no longer recognised as being luxuries, so this mentality of ‘there is nothing to do’ isn’t their fault (i.e. it is an effect). They haven’t had the state of ‘a life with few luxuries’ with which to compare their state of mind to, hence they say, and probably are, bored.
If the concept stands up to argument then progression in society (perhaps especially in the last half-century) has modeled children (and some adults) into being conditioned with what was once considered as materialistic. I have seen some parents even backing this up when they are interviewed when even they say ‘well, there’s nothing for them do around here, so it’s no wonder they get up to no good’. These are the very adults who will bring up their children with this mentality. And their children’s children will often be nurtured the same. They are subconsciously spreading socially conditioned negativity, and lack of appreciation, because this materialism is/has steadily being normalised, and it’s pace has gathered with information exchange.
I say socially conditioned negativity, because if you noticed, I took an inference from a narrator’s point of view, that indeed, young adults are behaving badly – when in actual fact, this generally is not the case. The inference that is taken (by me in this case to highlight a point) because this is the intention of the speaker, and again is/has been absorbed into societal mentality. The media are partially responsible for creating these inferences, and thoughts through information exchange (which of course we mostly choose to read and share); this is explained in more detail in another chapter. The reason that ‘they probably are bored’ was highlighted, is because I think that in many cases, it’s true, and also shows the effects of normalised materialism.
Part of this concept as you will have perhaps now understood, is that the efficiencies that surround us now, make us (almost force us) do less and less of what we as humans evolved to do. The efficiencies that have been created and made available to us, undertake many of the tasks that we have evolved to be able to do. Our body evolved for a way of life that barely resembles anything in modern western life, we have to do little to sustain ourselves, and I think that this has a bearing on people saying “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do”.

To further understand this effect, take a look at this example, and see if you understand it, or have experienced it, or know people who say these things:
We live in a society where efficiencies mean that we have far fewer menial task operations. We have computers at work which do much of the work that we once had to do. Machines do much of the work that we once had to do… Yet, despite all this efficiency, people still say ‘I want to get away from the stress of modern city life’ – so a price IS being paid for sustaining this ‘efficiency’ in the stress that is created for people who are keeping up with change and competing in the market to hold this efficiency to stay competitive. See ‘Tending the Garden’ chapter, for more about this.
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What effects in society could be attributed to this concept?
In my example of 1950s Britain, I mentioned clothing. These people were amongst the poorest of the population of Britain. They appeared to be unaccustomed to, and had little knowledge or exposure to expensive clothing. I can only imagine as a schoolchild what the children would have thought to someone attending school in expensive clothing, whilst they were wearing poor clothing. I remember from hearing stories from elders (when I was young) about people wearing ‘Sunday Best’ – in fact, it was still a term that was in use as I recall from the late 1970s/early 1980s. If in the 1950s there weren’t televisions, glossy magazines etc, then only when they venture further away from home, could they ever see people in expensive attire. By the late 1980s, when I was a teenager, I was aware that fashion (in school) was a prominent element for social acceptance, and gradually became more so. Perhaps if you were a teenager in the 1960s or 1970s, you will understand this, and consider that this was the era when it became an important matter for social standing within the youth, as that time period seemed to be a huge aspect of changing society. In the 1980s, advertising was becoming much more available to the masses with most people having television sets by this time. People had more access to information, and hence could more easily identify with more and different ‘role models’; and advertising companies could use this platform as the exemplar for their prospective subjects.
With the introduction of Information Technology in the 1990s (and using the construct of information exchange as a part of normalised materialism), this has meant that information exchange in the 1960-80s in comparison to the 1990s-2000s has altered by a gargantuan rate. Today, it’s quite observable that many people (in particular young people who have grown up after this change of pace) are obsessed with how they look. 50 years ago, other than the rich, many would have seen expensive fashion only once a year at Whitsuntide for example, or when in their Sunday best. This is now in the hands of everyone, everyday, if they have access to the construct of current information exchange. The use of Social Networking sites (and their advertisers), and vast numbers of glossy magazines showing ‘celebrities’ are almost constantly at hand, as are television programmes, showing the same.
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Think what television programmes you watched either when you were young, or if Television wasn’t available when you were young, what programmes were like when you first got one.
I remember that in the late 1970s, and early 1980s, evening viewing was often ‘variety’ type shows/game shows, which were usually hosted by some ageing man, as far as I can remember. In the 1990s, there were a lot more soap operas filling evening time slots. In the early 21st century, there is a lot more market for reality type programmes. However, there is a difference with these types of shows. With reality shows, people can become famous or acquire celebrity status without having any talent in anything, (apart from being talented at being talentless). This is becoming big business, and a part of society is under the influence of celebrities who are living examples of materialistic lifestyles. It is observable that the lifestyle of these is an influence to people due to the information exchange as part of normalised materialism. Musical influence has also changed for the same reason, in that what was musical appreciation is becoming more to do with perceived impression of musician lifestyle or mannerism based influence (in particular in young people), rather than the quality of music.
Personality issues and self image are primary concerns. Advertising and pressure force these concerns.
Is the obsession with fashion just an old upper class commonality being available to the masses of common people?
Consider the role models in your early life; consider if you have role models now, then who are they? Is there any difference, if so, what?
Who are your children’s role models or idols? Are they the same type of people who were your own?
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What effects in society could be attributed to this construct?
A further look at explaining possible lack of achievement/numbing of the brain
‘There’s nothing to do around here’ - possible outcomes of the normalized materialism and normalization of what once where considered a luxury…
People have games consoles which are mentally stimulating and pass time. This surely is a cure for having nothing to do. So why isn’t it? It may be stimulating certain parts of the brain, and heighten reflex or logical thought, however, they are designed to keep you playing to improve scores etc. Ok, most sports encourage people to get better, but with games consoles there isn’t actually anything gained at the end of it.
So many things are done for us these days with such rapid improvement in technology and information exchange that past essential jobs are now automatic or replaced with a device to do the job. In other words, these technological advancements leave few primary natural functioning duties and tasks that create basic senses of achievement.
We didn’t evolve to sit around all day playing on machines that give nothing back for our time. The accomplishment of playing games is that you beat your scores, or others’ scores. There is no gain for it, other than that. If there is nothing to do, then they must want something other than a console.
I can sit for hours and play addictive games on the computer, but what do I get out of it, that will improve my life?
At work now, I can sit at a desk and pretty much do my entire job without moving anything but my fingers on the keyboard.
I can eat a full meal by pressing a button on a machine that cooks it for me. I can order my food on the computer rather than go to the shop (or go further back in time) and without having to grow some crops, or kill an animal.
I don’t even have to think for myself, or do anything for myself.

On the flip side, when I try to cook, I’m not very good at it, and I doubt I could kill an animal unless I was starving. So there is some balance!
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What effects in society could be attributed to this construct?
Technical efficiencies can and I think will lead to less work and higher population. I think that in the near future, when the service industry is computerized, there will be a serious issue with employment. Many people are already used to having a safety net to fall into, this is normalised to those in our society. When a countries bank balance is in trouble (due to lack of employment or the countries economics), and cuts have to be made, the people who will actually be in financial trouble (or those who perceive themselves as targeted by cuts) will be the very people who have normalised this net.
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Effects in society: Insurance, a new form of currency?
When I was 17 and first started legally driving, I soon learned that when people had bumps in their cars, that there was a tendency for bending the truth about injuries to make claims against the other party. This seems to have increased over time. By now (2008), it’s almost expected that if you bump into a car at any speed that not only will some injuries appear, but also the vehicle damage will also be intensified. That seemed like the new way of scamming money. What I am seeing now is an explosion of both of these type claims, with third parties now getting in on the act* (excuse the pun). This seems like it could be a hugely lucrative market for both companies to make money out of hiring out vehicles for vast sums of money whilst the car is being ‘repaired’, and claimers earning some money too.
I think that it looks to be on the increase, and with it, increases in premiums to fund this type of business. It’s almost like a new form of currency. If it continues to increase, then people may feel like they have to make a claim to counter-balance their own rising policy costs. This is a circle in action, and soon this type of ‘currency exchange’ could not only be scamming, but become almost a necessity. The companies in the adverts advertise that they are doing people a favour with these transactions, by using appeals to emotion. In a materialized society, this could be big business.
This is another example of what I conclude to be normalizing of practices which eventually become the norm. But this is open to future observation.
*Accident management companies
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Part III
Conclusions and Predictions

Thoughts on our current abilities as a society who expect the availability of perceived necessities
How long would you survive if shops closed tomorrow, indefinitely; electricity was turned off; and the fuel supplies were cut?
Conclusion for me: I am reliant on this concept to survive!
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Conclusions for debate
It’s often said in today’s society that the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.
I would conclude that in fact, the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting richer. I think that this hypothesis highlights that almost everyone in this western society is in fact getting richer, both the rich and the poor; when you compare the poor of today to the poor of years past, there is no comparison (well, there is, it is that they are completely different!). This may not be in physical money; the people who don’t see this are the people who only think in monetary terms and what possessions they lack, and instead, compare themselves with what they can see with others. This is perhaps because although, I consider that everyone is richer, and I have shown this, I think that the gap is greater, because the rich are richer, than the poor are richer. However this leaves an unanswered question – if people are richer today, and few are poorer, then where is the physical money – the actual money? Where did it come from, and where is it now, and who has got it?
I would argue that it is soaked up in property, loans and interest.
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Conclusion for debate
Almost all modern day anti-social issues, many behavioural problems (and some people’s perceptions (often vastly exaggerated) of social problems), discipline problems, and law breaking, is a direct result of societal materialism combined with exponential short term growth in technological advancement, and its effect on human expectation. This is based on such rapidly changing social practices and social change.
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Conclusions for debate
With information exchange constantly expanding in availability, it offers people more opportunity for incorrect or misleading information to be spread without correction, and with self-interest and individual comparison availability, more disdain for perceived inequalities which although exist, have always existed.

My perception:
It would seem that vast information availability should be a good thing, however, I foresee that truth can, and will, be lost by inaccuracies or false conclusion during the spread of information; moreover, often intervention via a source will then include an ‘ad populum’ aspect to its initial concluders, which may then be included before widespread distribution of the information. Examples can already be observed on social networking sites, and on media sites where a political tilt can be also added prior or during the exchange.
Are people ready for such vast quantities of information? Are people capable of reasonably concluding things for themselves without taking the often selective or biased information at face value? It’s far easier to not have to think about reasoning when making conclusions when faced with such quantity. People already accredit certain sources of information with authority, and this gives the authority ability to transmit information to fulfill their own needs or agenda. It’s an easy way for sources of propaganda to be spread over the entire planet in literally a few minutes, and this time span is shortening rather than lengthening all the time, and the time span unlikely to alter into the direction of slowing down.
What are observable today are desensitized populations who are no longer shocked by what they hear, see, or are shown – this being as there is no longer a wait for stories or pictures to be presented to us – i.e. the imagination aspect to the prospect of forthcoming information is lessened. With this desensitization, people may no longer even care to logically work out how and why the images occur, or work out reasonable conclusions to the information gained. There is less time to absorb each piece of information as the amount is increased because our time is limited or restricted to processing and deducing reason. If the authority is believed at source, then they can do the thinking, and understand that when the information is spread, there will be fewer subjects willing to question it (assuming that some dullness of mind is the result of the entire process of time restriction). It’s for this reason, I believe, that sources fire out as much information as they can, taking advantage of what they know is high speed information exchange for which the wider audience have no need, time, nor desire to question about truth or fabrication to suit an intended cause.

So who cares?
The danger for society which far surpasses what gets issued in the news, is for a future of chaos in society that will almost certainly ensue should the technology responsible for information exchange in society continue to grow (which it inevitably will). The populous are/ or will be slowly losing sight of their own abilities in reasoning and judgment to come to their own conclusions, and instead ‘following the pack’ of the others who are doing the same thing. What should be a good thing with information availability will be the downfall of all our inherited ability to think reasonably and deduce problems.
Who do you believe? One authority says they’re right – the majority disagree – who is right? The dull-minded will follow the majority.
The apparatus is being built for mass dull-mindedness to spread into chaos. And we accept it, because of the reasons in this chapter.
I want my internet, I want my computer. I’ve had them, now I want the next thing.


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Conclusion for debate
As materialism is normalized, huge changes in societal hierarchies will happen. The poor (in this or other societies) must work for less for growth to continue and to comply with normalised materialism - and the poor with the least rights will do this work. Materialism of the masses of individuals affects all of society, whether lifestyles, money, perceptions of wealth and economic equality of people within a society, and that of other societies.
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Predictions for observation
Earlier in the chapter, I introduced an idea to the concept, that we are not doing what our bodies and mind evolved to do and that although evolution developed our abilities to create the technologies that we see today, these technologies and efficiencies are rapidly doing our workloads for us. I also mentioned that our needs for attainment, achievement and accomplishment could be affected by normalised materialism. Another chapter in the book looks at mental health in the population, and the reasons for the increases of many forms of it in western society. Of course, access to medicine and medical doctors has increased, so there are many different arguments to look at (and are discussed in the chapter) however, something that is observable (in particular in men*) in the future, is behaviour when access to work and manual work in lessened, and there are potentially less avenues to the 3 A’s.
*As is looked at in further detail in other chapters (Mapping Depression and Life Accomplishment), a woman can find all of these by having children.
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Predictions for future observations
Technology
In the last 20/30 years there have been many new inventions (or older inventions that are now more readily available), and once these technologies are far more easily affordable, and the availability is there, then we normalize them. It makes me wonder what inventions will continue to be made, and what ‘toys and gadgets’ people will have in the coming years. For example, 100 years ago a child might have been playing with a spinning top, or kicking something about as a football; adults, if they had any leisure time perhaps spent time in the pub, or doing chores at home/ reading etc. Now, at the beginning of this century there are game machines, mobile phones and enough gadget toys to keep people entertained in their leisure time… so what will people be doing and using in 100 years time? I had a think about this, and I predict that the rate of gadgetry expansion will perhaps decrease, and rather than newly invented entertainment devices being the pastimes times of our future population, I think that what is more likely is that trends will change faster and more considerably than at current rates. For example, information exchange and social contact becoming much more easily available in the palm of our hand (or perhaps brain one day). I think the way that people interact, and how they interact with games and gadgetry will be the big change. Most certainly, language will be very different in 100 years.

Predictions for future observation
Will computer or games console games in the future depict, or be seen as an alternate reality and the outside world as being non-reality?
We play games now with ever increasing realism, but have the advantage of knowing what games were like before amazing technologies. Children now learn new ones only, and have no knowledge of the transformation that has taken place in recent years. The children of these children at this rate might of change, see games of the future where the realism of the virtual world has exceeded the reality of the outside world in their own perception.
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Part I: Self and Others: Chapter 1 Lemmings


Various papers and notes are from 1999-2008, and typed up March 2009.

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Lemmings – the computer game:

‘The behavior of the creatures in Lemmings [a computer game] is based on the behaviour of real lemmings, of who by urban legend are believed to go on migrations en masse that eventually lead to disaster. In order to save at least the required number of lemmings, the player must determine how to assign a limited number of eight different skills to specific lemmings that allow the selected lemming to alter the landscape, to affect the behaviour of other lemmings, or to clear obstacles in order to create a safe passage for the rest of the lemmings, sometimes even by means of sacrifice.’ [Unquote] (cited in Wiki)

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This is a thesis and observation and is based on a ‘lemming’ metaphor. It is not entirely based on the urban legend of lemming behaviour, but about the idea of the actual computer gamer that plays the game. In the Lemmings video game, the computer gamer uses their mouse to control the behaviour of other lemmings, and he/she can move lemmings en masse. The mouse holder, with the actions of a few ‘mouse clicks’ has total control, and can use simple techniques to dictate an outcome of the lemmings’ set tasks, whether to create a good or bad outcome. The virtual lemming, however, has no knowledge of the mouse user’s mind, and they couldn’t care anyway, as they haven’t got the ability to. Most importantly, because they are unable to think for themselves, they have no knowledge of dictation and manipulation.

If the virtual lemming used a mind of its own, it may be able to question the gamer’s decisions, and decide whether the outcome would be satisfactory for the other lemmings. This would ultimately would mean the gamer would lose control of the situation, and lose their power. Where do the interests lie? The mouse holder’s interest has to be to keep the lemmings under his/her control. This is done by keeping the lemmings naïve.

* * *

How close is this to real life? It perhaps depends on your view point.

I propose that in real life, broadly speaking, there are 3 types of people:

1. People who recognise that they aren’t in total control of their lives and decisions
2. People who think they are in control of their lives and decisions
3. And people who don’t care (or have no knowledge of ‘control’ to allow them to care).
(For the propositions to be accurate there would need to be a 4th set of people, and they would in this metaphor, be the mouse holder or gamer.)

* * *

In our everyday real life, is someone clicking this ‘metaphorical mouse’? If so, who or what is it? How is it working?

If you ask someone, ‘who is in charge of you?’, ‘who thinks and makes your decisions?’, or ‘who tells you how to think?’, and assuming that they are being asked these questions with no knowledge of why they are being asked (and assuming they haven’t just read this), the most common answer will be themselves. I will suggest in this writing that these people are actually the most likely to fall into category 2 (people who think they are in control of their lives and decisions), and that they are actually the people who are being completely controlled and influenced by an outside source, without them realizing it.

If my observations and proposals are correct, then a combination of these people and the people in category 3 (don’t care, or no knowledge) are I believe, becoming the majority in society. People who are naïve or don’t care, as a majority, will give the ‘metaphorical mouse clicker’ what they want, which is overall power and control.

If this proposition is correct or can hold argument, then it will show how society is becoming more in the hands of the metaphorical gamer.

It will be necessary to trace back through the generations to establish possible points in time where a major societal change may have contributed to the current state, and to use these points to investigate why this proposed ‘lemming culture’ may have become more common in recent years.

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The last 150 years

Chapter 11 relates to junction points in time and life, and is a method for trying to identify a point/or points in time that have had a major influence on societal change. If it was possible to identify one or more junction points in relation to society, it may be possible to make conclusions for the ‘Lemming metaphor’

I started at today’s society [in the noughties], and concentrated on tracing back through time to identify certain points whereby a decision or change may have created a major junction point which may have influenced the culture in today’s society. I went back to 150 years, and decided that that was far enough back, and selected enough points that may be relevant.
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If the identifications are correct, my conclusion would be that much of society and how we live has changed in around the last 150 years, and that during this time society is now populated by many more people who have much less constructive self-thought. There are several possibilities to why this may be an accurate conclusion, and using the thesis’ theme of ‘the mouse clicker’, it will be looked at to whom is/are the mouse clickers.
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To begin, look back to the 19th century and beforehand; people at these times in society lived in much smaller communities, and experienced society differently (when village and country life was more common) before city life changed communities, due to industrialisation.

It could be suggested that perhaps smaller communities meant more parental control, or religious control, and less opportunity for diversity and less autonomy. Without information from the ‘outside’, there would be less room for outside influences and more of a perception of life as looking after not only oneself, but one’s neighbour. Other than crime, the only option for survival would be looking out for yourself/ your family and your neighbour. If your neighbour or family wouldn’t help you, and you didn’t help yourself, and crime was out of the equation because of the size of the community, then you are wouldn’t survive. Far from being an ideology, it is more a presumption of how things may have been.

The industrial years of the late 19C and early 20C meant that small communities and villages were in decline, and it was this industry that caused the advent of big cities and a completely different way of life for many people. This would give an increase in choice for some, more money for some (and quite often poverty of course), and most certainly, more outside influence to personal decisions, and more varied perceptions of societies.


There are two important points here:

1. More external influence.
2. Poverty for some people, and a lot more money for other people.



First, the increase in visible external influence that individuals see inevitably means that they would become aware of much more societal diversity, especially with regard to money and property. There is a myriad of potential for seeing different ways of life, rather than the limited number of different ways of life in their pasts, when living within smaller communities.

Secondly, more poverty and cases of poor conditions, as the capitalist industrial revolution creates a more diverse class system. The potential for huge amounts of money for some people opens up a can of worms for class dispute, or community incompatibility (at least temporarily). If previously learned generational and practiced (relative) monetary equality and balance is disturbed, it must be likely that there would be some issues of conflict.
When reading about the early industrial revolution era, it’s common to see great divides between rich and poor. Here lies an opening for a great plan. A plan was needed that would bring equilibrium. That plan was welfare. It’s a work of genius.

Or is it?

Chapter 11 explains about major junction points. Points in time where a single decision (maybe a small individual decision or maybe a big decision by a collective authority) that affects every single thing that happens after this point.

I have thought about today’s society, how it operates, and how people act in the society that they live in, and traced back some junction points that have shaped a huge part of today’s society. Some of these points have changed things almost beyond the point of any return. Welfare and state healthcare are two major junction points that I have identified.

So how did I arrive at this point in time? What affect do these junction points have on society?

The implementation of the welfare system and the introduction of state healthcare was a reasonable idea in theory. It certainly helped a lot of people in the past, and created a fair taxed system to ensure that healthcare and basic financial needs were available to all. However, was it implemented with thoughts of the future? Was it recognised that it could be something with no means to an end, or alternatively, an excellent plan that didn’t have a well thought out long term plan. The welfare system is one of the major junction points that will be looked at.
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There are other factors that have contributed to what could be considered to have affected current society, however, they all tie in with the welfare junction point, but moreover, they contributed after the junction point. In other words they are an integral part of the future affect. These are: technology; materialism; liberal thinking and the media.

Let’s look at why these could be considered to be integrated into the affect, and at what point in time they started to take effect: technology (growth in the latter part of the 20thC), materialism (debatable, date wise), and liberal thoughts and actions (perhaps 1960s onward). The media plays a part in of all of these. The technology is available for vast amounts of information to be broadcast and shared, the variance of which allows (or should allow) free thought.

The combination of all five of these junction points and factors, have left open a loophole. It is a loophole for stupidity to breed within society, and possibly at an exponential rate.

All of these five aspects of societal change could be used to create an almost perfect society, however I suggest that the balances are wrong (or have become unbalanced), and this is the loophole that can be found.

* * *
To break these factors down, we’ll look at them individually.

The Liberating 60s

Gender equality and freedom of thought played a huge part in a lot of people’s lives in the 60s, helped or spurred along in the late 50s, early 60s by social movements. Ideologies of freedom and equality can only be a good thing.

Is it possible that around this time, and in the early 1970s when huge industrial changes left many people out of work, that welfare ceased to be used as a cushion in between work, and began to create a new kind of thought process in relation to claiming money and not working? – That is, becoming used to depending on someone else to provide a living. Did freedom of thought perhaps lead the conservatively minded workers into condemning the free thinking, thus causing a segregation of classes that further leads to conflict amongst society? Moving on to the 1970s, this ‘free thinking’ seemed to be becoming less about ‘free thinking’, and more about someone thinking for them, as appears to be the case with many protests, when the average person doesn’t even realise what they are protesting for or against.

It wouldn’t be a ridiculous statement to say that people want society to be fair, but would it be better if people think for themselves to what is fair?

Technology

During the 1960s and 70s the media/information was becoming more accessible with newer technologies, and much of it (in newspaper form for example) cause hype and scare mongering campaigns because it sells more papers. This process in itself assists people into not thinking for themselves. It’s a reasonable observation that bad news sells papers. It is, however, possible to read bad news and consider that it doesn’t necessarily reflect common everyday life. Yet I think that what is noticeable on an enormous scale today is people do believe much of what they are reading (without looking deeper into the meaning or reality of what is being said), and that these bad things will happen to them, or someone close to them.
-
Somewhere in this observed information that I’m writing about, fits in another of the earlier mentioned integral components of this society premise: Technology; I grew up in the 1970s and early 1980s, when video gaming in particular became a popular new pastime, especially for young people. I recall at the time thinking that the games were brilliant (even though now, looking at them, it seems that they were pitifully simple!).
I still played outside, and although I would love to spend time on the gaming machine, it never replaced going out to climb trees, play football etc. I would fall, trip, or try anything with seemingly little regard for whether or not I injured myself, which I commonly did, as most kids do.

Why do kids now often spend so much time on gaming machines rather than going out? Well, firstly because modern gaming machines are just spectacular with regards to graphics, playability etc … but is this reason? Is it actually because parents are worried to let their children play out?

Think of some media headlines in recent years (or weeks!!) … “Teenage drug deaths”, “terror in the streets”, “teenage gangs ruling the streets”, “paedophiles everywhere”, “broken Britain” … is it any wonder kids aren’t outside playing? What kind of parent would allow their child to go and join a gang, fight, terrify and beat up old ladies, whilst taking ‘drugs’ and rapping the lines ‘I shot the ho’!

Why do people believe that the world is so bad? Why are people allowing themselves to become so feebleminded? Where is this widespread terror in the streets, other than a few cases that the media find and scare people with?
-
People today are the product of people from the years when the changes that I identified took place. Welfare was introduced to help people whilst in between work, and instead of developing and remaining parallel with societal change, it has instead assisted huge changes in the areas that I have highlighted, namely creating a society of people who no longer are thinking for themselves.

Materialism

Materialism has its part to play in all of this. Materialism isn’t necessarily a bad thing but, balanced incorrectly, it feeds into another aspect of today’s society. I couldn’t precisely date (or even loosely guess) materialism earlier, because it has probably been a part of society since time began, but in the case of recent times, aspects of welfare that are relevant to people not responsible for their own means, are being passed on to their offspring.

I’ve observed others throughout my life and recognised that a common occurrence is that hard working parents seem to produce hard working children (as later adults), and that lazy parents seem to often produce lazy children (as later adults). This isn’t implying that everyone is the same of course, as there is choice available if people acknowledge the value of work and money.
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Welfare isn’t at fault though!

Governments should have a duty to look after the society and the people in it, and that is why they are voted in by us. Providing that a government can generate enough income to pay out any amount of welfare benefits then it is not in their interest to remove or lower any welfare benefits. Until such a time when this balance can no longer be met then there will be an ongoing number of people who are better off not working.

Society and Money

In recent times (perhaps 40 years or so) banks and money lenders have made it so much easier to borrow money for interest, and anyone with any slight disrespect for the value of earned money can fall into a little trap, if they aren’t wise enough to budget.

Wisdom (arguably) comes with age and experience, and when observing who is and who is not in debt, there seems to be a scale that shows older people with less debt. It could be that they have paid it off due to the longer length of time that they’ve had to do so, or it could be that they budgeted more wisely in the past. In my experience, older people, particularly pensioners appear to budget much better than young people. Evidence of ‘if I want something, I save for it, or go without’, isn’t particularly hard to find amongst this older age group.

Earlier in the chapter, materialism was chosen as a contributor to the affect. A possible negative side to materialism is greed. In a society when people don’t have responsibility for themselves (without even realizing), then greed is a parasite destined to grow. Companies know this, and have latched on to it, and use the media to create a festering of the parasite. By watching television for half an hour in the day, it’s possible to see it in action in all its glory. ‘Sue this’, ‘sue that’, ‘claim for that’, etc.

Adverts appear to be appealing to pity, e.g. showing a clumsy woman slipping over and breaking her lipsticks, or a roof worker who falls due to using the wrong ladder because ‘it wasn’t provided for him’. Of course the adverts are staged, but are designed to make us greedy.
This has probably been going on for several years already with regards to car insurance, but it is spreading into everyday life. The signs that appear on almost everything today, warning you that the floor may be wet, that the hot tap might provide HOT water. As amusing as it can be, it’s a step towards accelerating the feeblemindedness that may (or arguably does) plague society. This could create a society of ‘blame culture’.

Note: I’m even doing it now! Blame something! I’m therefore an example of this creation!

Blame is a wonderful word for the stupid. It pushes one’s own poor action into being someone else’s concern. When it [blame] is genuinely unrecognized by the person performing the ‘poor action’ then replicated over and over, it becomes the norm, and their offspring will then be nurtured into a similar chance of them not recognizing it either.

* * *

Who is playing into whose hands? The government must keep control of society to maintain order. It shouldn’t tamper with welfare or the media to accomplish this. Both of these leave enough for a society as a whole to believe that they are in control of their own lives.

The Effect:

• The government gets their wish for a large proportion of the nation to be brainwashed into believing nonsensical drivel that the media spout out, and all it costs them is spending tax-payers money on problems that need not exist.

• The newspapers get there £s too in sales.

• Shareholders and financiers can clean up, whilst we pay for it

• The general public don’t see this happening


* * *

In conclusion

The major junction point is the introduction of a welfare system which hasn’t changed and developed with societal change over time to assist people in the right way.

So what, you may ask, is the problem if my observation is correct? Is it so bad if people are naïve?

I think people need to feel like they are of use, whether they even realise it or not, because it is in our nature. People need to help others, whether they even realise it or not, because it we are caring creatures. People need order, whether they even realise it or not, because it’s too easy to be reckless. How much order is placed upon us, is a key balance in the equation.

Too little order: chaos. Too much order: lemmings.

Most importantly, people need to think for themselves; otherwise they will be manipulated and dictated at.

The government must keep us naïve because if the balance tips into ‘too little order’, then chaos will ensue.

Perhaps the time frame for societal change [in western society] coincides with changes to religious views. The need for answers, truth or blame 150 years ago, may have been met by religious figures, whereas today, when religious beliefs are more diluted, the need for an authority shows itself by much of what I’ve written in this chapter.
 
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Chapter 2

The Sphere: Mapping a mind in relation to family, friends; and the link that is between with everyone whom is known by that mind.

The common links that will fit into this sphere are; friendships; acquaintances; parenthood; emotion; bonding; intimate relationships; and lastly, time restraint.

* * *

So, what is this sphere?

To explain the theory, it’s necessary to know exactly what the sphere is, and how it works. Before looking at the first diagram, you need to imagine a metaphorical sphere then imagine a person to who’s mind we will map. Think of a sphere as a ball, perhaps a football, but rather than being made of leather, rubber and pressurized air; it’s a solid ball, but easily penetrable using probe type instrument, perhaps like a ball of polystyrene. Next you need to imagine a probe of some kind, perhaps a matchstick, which is long enough to be entered into the polystyrene ball, and long enough to reach the centre of the ball from the outside edge.

Use what you will in your imagination for this ‘football’, and ‘matchstick’, but from this point on, the football will be known as ‘the sphere’, and the matchstick will known as ‘a thread’.

In short: The visual sphere is a picture of someone’s mind, and will be used to highlight where all of the common links that were listed earlier will fit into it.

Now look at Figure 1.

The sphere has 7 parts to it; 3 membranes (outer, inner, and central); and 4 sections; an outer core; an inner core; and central core (which is split in two).

diagram 1.jpg

Diagram Figure 1

a) Outer membrane
b) Outer core
c) Inner membrane
d) Inner core
e) Central membrane
f) Central core
g) Central core

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What is a thread?

A thread is an instrument to use in this sphere which represents another person. It is someone who the ‘sphere owner’ knows personally, or someone who has had some form of contact with the sphere owner; however, they don’t necessarily have had to have met personally.

The thread is quite like the matchstick description earlier. It is stiff, yet it is brittle, and can be easily damaged within the sphere, or cause damage to the sphere.

In short: The sphere is a picture of someone’s mind, (let’s say John)
The thread is someone that John knows.
The thread penetrates into the sphere, and how far it goes in, is how the sphere is mapped.

What are the cores?

Each core represents the intensity of the relationship with the sphere owner. How deeply the thread penetrates in the sphere, represents how close the person is to the owner of the sphere (yet not necessarily vice versa).

For example; the outer core is quite large and its surface is the first contact between the sphere and a thread. It has to be the largest, as most of us know a lot of people (whether someone realizes or not). This area will include threads such as acquaintances, work colleagues, long lost friends with whom they have little contact, old school and work mates, friends of friends that they have met, etc.

The further into the sphere these threads are penetrated, the closer they are to the inner membrane and inner core. This inner core area includes, friends, close friends, quite close family, people who are they are quite emotionally involved with, etc.

Finally, at the heart of the sphere is the central core which is split between intimacy, and bonding. This area would include a partner, in the case of the intimacy section; and the bonding section would include [perhaps] the partner (if the feelings are equally reciprocated), and commonly parent/s, (often) siblings, and (most commonly) offspring- should they have any.

What are the membranes?

The membranes are the protectors of the next inward core. They act to protect a thread from entering deeper into the sphere. They represent both conscious and unconscious decisions to whom people allow into their lives, and how deep that the relationship is.

The membranes may all be different thicknesses, and each is different thickness for every single person. These thicknesses are almost entirely based on past experience, which is explained in more detail later.

* * *


An added advantage of this model is that it also represents the significance of time restraint. The sphere acts as a demonstration of how much time each sphere holder can dedicate to each thread.

Contact, or communication, is [arguably] quite important in emotional involvement, and the sphere indicates that the closer to the centre, the more important it is too have this contact or communication with the thread. For example, our time restraints mean that it is completely impossible to be in regular contact with everyone in the outer core (in other words, every single person that we know). The importance of contact increases as the closeness to the centre. In short, the closer to the centre, the more time either spent with them, whether communicating with them, or time spent thinking about them, or being with them.

* * *

How do the membranes play a part, and how do they work?

The membranes are an important part of the sphere. Each membrane has its own part to play in a person’s personality. How they are shaped is explained later on, however, understanding the importance of their thicknesses is a key point to understanding each person.

The outer membrane thickness is almost an entire reflection of introversion or extraversion. However, without further knowledge of the other membranes, it doesn’t entirely reflect how a person behaves emotionally.

If you think of someone now, then using a personal example of a type of person that you might know, the outer membrane can be understood. Imagine someone who doesn’t make friends easily, and/or has few friends, doesn’t talk to new people easily, is quite withdrawn in conversation – (removing the possibility that they are simply having a bad day) it’s safe to assume that their outer membrane is quite thick. On the other hand, imagine someone quite open and chatty with new people (bubbly perhaps), or just openly quite extravert; this would indicate a thin outer membrane. In both cases, it’s important to understand that this isn’t a bearing on people’s emotions or depth of character as such. This outer membrane shows how many threads are in place in an individual’s sphere, and its thickness would indicate whether people allow people into their sphere with ease or difficulty.

The inner membrane thickness shows how easily ‘the sphere owner’, allow themselves to let people be close to them (again not vice versa).

By this deduction, it’s possible to imply that people with a thick outer membrane may more often have a thinner inner membrane, as they allow less people in, and choose who they allow into their sphere more selectively. This would also reflect to people and the time restraint they have. Fewer people (or threads), means more time availability.

Continuing with the inner membrane; if this membrane is thin. [hence allowing threads in easily] it’s open to being damaged more easily. Simple mathematics would show that although there are more good people in the world than bad, that allowing more into the inner core gives a higher probability of someone causing damage, with maltreat. Damage to, and repairing of membranes will be looked at later.

If the central membrane is also thin as well as the inner membrane, allowing people in to intimacy or bonding, then the damage possibilities are heightened, as this is the most sensitive area. For example, if all three membranes are thin, then there is a larger scope for being mistreated. Without the development of a reasonable central or inner membrane, then there is an increased chance of becoming low in self confidence, perhaps due to mistrusting people, as this allowing of many threads into the sensitive area without selecting more carefully, would allow a higher chance of people who can cause harm.

* * *

Thickness changing in membranes

We are human and we learn.

In some cases, it takes people longer to learn. Most people with thin inner membranes, who whether or not they realise that they have a tendency for allowing the wrong threads in, should naturally thicken the membrane in time [emotional/or life development], to correct the weakness in the balance, in relation to the other membranes. The increased thickness of these membranes is like a heightened barrier, whereby relationship development should mean someone is more particular.

Membranes will thicken if they have been damaged by threads. As already established, the closer to the centre, the more sensitive and important a thread is to the sphere. The same goes for the membranes. Hence, the central membrane is the most delicate. If a thread causes damage here, or the thread is quickly wrenched out of this area, or even wrenched clean out of the sphere (perhaps by the unexpected death of the thread, or being taken away after committing a wicked crime), the emotional damage can be quite severe to the sphere.

* * *

Damaged membranes

A damaged membrane caused by a thread being withdrawn or broken, creates a need for it to repair itself. This is part of the thickening process. It could also be described as a learning curve.

As the centre core is considerably more sensitive, and only allows a few in, the thread will have had time to root them self to the core. Such withdrawals or breakages to this core segment will often be quite severely distressing to the sphere - often causing mental damage in the case of some scenarios, (see later: ‘The Constant’).

The mental damage will be varying based on a simple spectrum which is dictated by the thickness of all their other membranes, and core sizes. The case earlier, of the introvert who allows few in, and I implied had more time with the few they selected, would mean that mental damage could be heightened by the very fact that they perhaps trust fewer people (or allow people to get close to them).

* * *

Note:

‘I found some notes [or some more random shit, for a better expression] from last year. Topic wise, it’s very close to this chapter, so I’m going to add it. When I read some old notes, I generally remember why I wrote it, but in this case I don’t remember why I wrote this, and it was undated. It relates to the chapter because I think there are some answers in this note, to the questions that I asked earlier. I think I was stoned when I wrote this, as my handwriting is quite distinctive in that state.’

The Emotional Sphere

I can picture in my head an emotional sphere which relates to our ‘human to human minds’. Who do we allow in? Who are placed there by nature?

To what extent do we dictate for ourselves, the depths that we allow people in to our emotional mind? Surely we have a control in our mind to organize and place the closeness, trust and intimacy that we allow. Is this actually organized naturally, or is it displaced if the emotion isn’t received in return?
When the balance isn’t right, then this is an obvious observation for an outsider to deduce what caused damage to someone’s life or mind.

* * *

Note:

‘Before I wrote ‘The Constant’ out in full, which was central to my whole ponder and theory, I wrote how love would fit into this sphere. A lot of these following notes however, were along the same lines as the later writing in ‘the constant’. For this reason, most of the following piece has been edited out and the rest left in, which was about love - as in love, in the intimate relationship form.’

The Sphere of Love (May 08)

A partner is a thread that would eventually be placed right from the outside edge, and right through either the central cores, or at least the intimacy side. This thread, over time (and after having worked its way from the outside edge to the middle), grows its roots that eventually may spread throughout the core. In fact they almost mould themselves to become an integral part of the core. I mentioned in the main topic at the beginning, that threads are strong but brittle, and this is the case here. They penetrate the most sensitive part of the sphere.

If these [partner] threads cause damage by poor actions, or be wrenched out of the sphere [e.g. unexpectedly leave, die, or cheat] then the damage will likely be destructive and mentally time consuming, with regard to rational thinking. The relative time during this episode, is that the time previously spent with the thread, or thinking about the thread is replaced by a similar time frame, but with only thinking about them [by and large in an emotionally self damaging way].

This time management works on all the threads in the sphere, so for example, if a thread just penetrating the outer scale [i.e. someone you barely know] is removed suddenly, then your time spent thinking negatively about this removal would be short, or for a more verbal example of a possible thought, ‘I don’t give a shit’.

* * *

The Constant

The threads which are of utmost importance in the sphere are the ones involved between a mother and her child. In the case of the mother, the [child] thread penetrates right through from the outside edge of her sphere, and buries its way directly into the central core of it, after the birth of her child. The mother thread to the child is slightly different. An undeveloped newborn child’s mind perhaps has no such thoughts as to even care for who the [mother] thread is, or who it will be, but more often than not of course, it will be the thread of its mother.

So in the case of the mother, more often than not, the most important thread in their sphere after giving birth, will be her child (there may be temporary time related exceptions to this in cases of PND). Staying with the mother, this [child] thread will not only penetrate right into the central ‘bond’ and ‘intimacy’ cores, but will root itself deeply in the bond, and stay there for the rest of her life. If at any point in the mother’s life from this point in time, the [child] thread is damaged or wrenched from its rooted position in the mother’s sphere, it would cause major, if not perhaps irreparable damage to all three membranes that surround it, including even, the outer layer – which for example, could transform an extrovert to an introvert.

Going back to the newborn child, the age of the child when the [mother] thread becomes bonded is debatable, perhaps varying on levels of dependency towards different aspects to their childhood development. Knowing which buttons to press in order to get what the child wants, or knowing who to smile at, or hang on to, in the first year, would suggest very early on, however, if the mother was ‘swapped’ for someone else during this period, then despite perhaps initial short-term distress, the child would likely have no memory of this in later life, unless someone felt the need to confuse the child in later life.

I’m suggesting then that from the child’s point of view, the roots that grow from the [mother] thread in its own sphere, in the child’s central bond core are forming steadily. There will be a point in time not fixed to an instant, but a short period of time, where the bond is at a stage when if the [mother] thread is tampered with, instantly torn out, dislodged or the bond not reciprocated from the mother, then serious damage to the central membrane and minor damage to the other two will occur in the child. This isn’t to suggest that these membranes cannot be repaired, however most certainly temporary disruption will occur but this may well last a lifetime.

This thread central to the core is vital for everyone - especially in early years. This is the constant.

I’ve used the mother as the example, and I could imagine a few fathers/grandparents/uncles or aunties reading this, and not entirely grasping the suggestion that their role doesn’t befit this metaphorical constant! There is room in the core for many extra constants, however the term is used singularly, because of the implication that every child ideally requires at least one [I said constant, not constants], for damage not to occur. There is an exception/or possible flaw to this though, and this suggests that a constant isn’t necessarily totally beneficial. This is answered by the next question.


What if the child’s constant is a bad one?

The act of merely being a constant doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a good one. It was mentioned earlier using the terminology of tampering, dislodging or damaging the thread through lack of reciprocation from the child’s constant. By just using general observation, it’s easy to find many possible examples where an adult who would believe that they were the equivalent of this metaphorical ‘perfect’ constant, however, whether they are aware of it, or more likely not, it doesn’t necessarily make them a beneficial guardian. Hence a bad constant, can do damage to the child’s mental growth, but probably less so than no constant (depending on the severity of the damage caused by the constant). Forgiveness is a key factor here. People are more likely to forgive a constant, but once again this may depend on the severity of the act that caused the damage.

In respect of the last section mentioning having more than one constant, and it also being suggested that in the case of the mother’s sphere, their child/children’s thread is [more often than not] naturally implanted right at birth; here, another reason that I used the singular is that despite having more than one constant, and as I suggested there is room for more, these I don’t think can be quite as close as a main one. If push comes to shove, everyone has a pecking order, and I’ve rarely come across anyone ever, who would consider anyone’s life more precious than their own child.

Ash, June 2008.

* * *
The Constant nicely leads this chapter into the final part of The Sphere; ‘pecking orders’.

‘Pecking order’ – who is most important in your life?

There are two aspects that can be taken from the sphere with regards to ‘pecking orders’.

1. Forgiveness.
2. Importance of a thread in one’s life, and the loyalties and intimacy that encompass this, based on their position in the sphere.

This entire sphere metaphor, also explains pecking order. In both the aspects that I‘ve listed, the sphere nicely exposes a pecking order.

1. Pecking order in the terms of forgiveness, means the closer the thread is to the centre, the more likely that forgiveness will be given, (whether rightly or wrongly, which would be subjective). The argument here could be that a Constant that has caused some damage in early life of a child, which can’t be forgiven. This can be explained by the addition of time restraint. The time spent, trying to forgive, or time spent thinking about never forgiving, is closely related.

2. Importance of life. It was highlighted in the ‘The Constant’ that no one’s life is more important than that of their child, to the sphere owner. The pecking order then dictates the importance of the lives in order of everyone in their lives, from the centre to the outside edge, however, this isn’t static. Pecking order may be in general; child, partner, parent, siblings, other family, close friends, friends, work mates, acquaintances etc [or an order close to that]. However, after child [which will most likely never change from being top to the ‘pecking order’], the pecking order can change. The further that the thread’s end is from the centre relates to being easier to understand the importance of someone in relation to the self. In other words, relationships constantly change, but the constant will remain at the top of the order.

* * *

The completed sphere maps out the current complete relationship between a person and everyone they know. It shows time restraint, intimacy, sensitivity, development, openness and exposes where susceptibility to emotional damage can occur.
 
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Such long writings... :)
 
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Part II Chapter 2: The field and the pit (put in metaphors)

Imagine, a huge field, lush green grass, entirely confined by dry stone walling. It’s the type of field that is normally recognised as being populated by cows or other livestock. This field isn’t filled with livestock. The field has people wandering around it, hundreds of them. They are randomly walking around as if they haven’t a care in the world.

In the middle of the field, there is a pit. Someone is stood in that pit. It could well be me, let us say it is me. But did I dig this pit in which I might stand? I don’t know. Either I can’t remember, or I dug it whilst not be aware of digging it. Whether I dug it or not, doesn’t matter anymore. It’s there, and for the time being, I’m stood in it. It’s just too deep to clamber out of without assistance, the dampness of the soil makes it just too hard to grip the sides and clamber out. Most people don’t seem to notice that I’m in it, and I’m not being noisy or requesting assistance to get out. A few passersby however, do talk to me, and I talk back, but I don’t let on that I’m stuck. Perhaps they think that I need help getting out but don’t want to mention it, maybe they think they would be insulting me.

I wonder if they were in it, whether they would scream and shout, in fear of being stuck there forever? If they enjoy or are content aimlessly and freely wandering around the field, confined only by walling, and that wasn’t affecting their perception of feeling liberated, then the idea of being in a pit would seem horrendous to them.

To pass the time, I find ways of taking my mind off it. Thinking is pretty much all there is to do. I’m often thinking so much so, that sometimes I don’t even remember that I’m in there. Sitting quietly, thinking about possible methods of getting out, thinking about whether I even want to get out, and observing what people are doing, watching how they interact, watching whether people notice the pit, and whether they make deliberate attempt to give it no eye contact, or look bemused to what someone is doing in it. Some don’t even appear to have even seen it, why would they want to see it? It is a mess, an eyesore in the lush grass! They may have seen it before and avoided it; they have blocked it from their mind and can now pass it by without any conscious effort.




‘Pity the person in the pit! Pity them!’ Well don’t actually. Sometimes, whilst they are thinking… they have a great idea. It comes from out of the blue, seemingly from nowhere, it shows itself as a ladder, a rope ladder and it’s dangling right in the eye line of the person in the pit.


It’s just begging to be climbed. People in the field who observed this ladder from the field, would think ‘ah! a way out, climb it and join the field’ They don’t have the knowledge and the experience that I have though. By choosing the ladder, I’m going to be in a greater place than the field.

It is a no brainer, get climbing!

That spontaneous thought earlier created the ladder, and it has to be acted upon, otherwise it would be a wasted opportunity, and a waste of time thinking about how it got there.

The people in the field don’t know where it leads, and they don’t know the consequences of climbing it. The field that I’m going to see is greener than theirs, though if I were to look at the field through their eyes, it would look no greener than the one they are used to seeing. In fact, it would look exactly the same as to them. If they knew that if they made it to the top, that they would reach a utopian reality, they would also consider the climb as being worthy. The climb has one flaw though; its end [the top] isn’t predetermined. From so high up, I can see everything. I can see what people are doing, I can understand why they are doing the things that they are doing. Everything is so clear. And it feels wonderful. I can be my true self, and I don’t care what anyone thinks, I have the confidence that the people in the field could only dream of (if they are capable of even knowing). After a while though, the ladder starts to move downwards, so you have to climb further to stay in the same place. Because my field is better than their field, they start to disappear as it gets dark. They’re going home because they’re ‘called in’. That’s just plain silly on their behalf. They should stay, and I’m right! I’ll keep climbing, fuck ‘em, I’m having a great time, and if necessary it’ll be on my own. Pass the intoxicants, I’m having a party.

Realization starts waving at the climber. Realization states that the ladder was not there for the pleasure of the climber, it simply offers itself when it feels necessary. It was put there by your own mind, almost as a tempter into seeing if you will continue doing the same things as you had done before. Realization states that you cannot climb the ladder and hop off in the field, and you will keep climbing, because you are with greedy with happiness, greedy with how many people you wanted to interact with, and greedy with thoughts of being in a higher place than everyone else in the field.

Many people around, or no one around, it makes no difference now. The ladder is like a conveyor belt, and trying to reach the top is just out of reach … or so it seems. The truth is, you’ve been to the top, and there’s only way left to go.

Reality sets in. The ladder disappears from grasp, and sets the motion of freefall.

Reality is that the ladder never existed. Mind created the ladder. Mind made the climber climb, by leaving no other reasonable option.

Ash, Feb ‘07
 
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Part IV Metaphors: 19. The play

The theatre is an old one. It is beautifully decorated having been totally refurbished to look as it did when it was originally constructed when stupendous attention to detail was paramount to its designer. It has an old style layout, with three tiers, and boxes at the sides for people with an extra few quid. From the boxes, the breathtaking splendour of the entire arena can be seen with just a slight turn of the head, and with its extra space and unsurpassable views and luxury seating... there, would most certainly seem like the place to settle.

The auditorium is full, and the play is underway. The actors play out the parts that they have learned. They have rehearsed to the point when almost no deviation from the script is made. There are occasional lapses in the lines from one or two actors, but a careful little ad-lib creates a little quip or bout of humour amongst their fellow artists and even the onlookers, and this is all that is required to get back on the right track. The director won’t mind this minor indiscretion, nor will the audience. A slight stray will give actors a boost in spirit, as they can build on the deviation, showing that they are only human and can make the best of an inadvertent digression from set dialogue.

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‘I have the best seat in the house. I’m sat in the box. I didn’t ask for it, but I was given a complimentary ticket so I can watch, and absorb the atmosphere; the surroundings; the play; and everything that comes with it. I can see the audience and watch their reactions to different aspects of the play. I’m not really interested in watching this play; I’ve seen it before, many times. Today I am more observant than usual. When I look beyond all the magnificence and observe the set more closely, I can see a gantry above the stage. There are a few ladders and ropes, and pulleys that are holding up the many structures and attachments that are designed to bring the play to life; a set that is created to bring an alternate reality for the actors to convince the audience that they are where the play says that they are.

The audience have the ability too, to also see all the mechanisms that create this semblance, but they don’t. They don’t see any of the intricate fittings that someone has spent many hours placing there to make the set look convincing. Maybe they see beyond them; maybe they don’t notice them; or maybe they see them but don’t care or have no interest, after all, I didn’t notice them when I watched the play on previous occasions when I was sat amongst them in the stalls.

There are a few other people up in the boxes. Most look quite aged. They look more relaxed than I am. Their demeanour reflects that of people who have a passive disposition, so much so, that it almost seems a tad cocky... perhaps this opinion of mine might be attributed to a touch of jealousy. The way they move, and their mannerisms seem to have a kind of fluidity that suggests they already know where I am now. I wonder whether they have also seen the play before but have seen and understood the intricacies already, however, their age has given them wisdom and knowledge, and they have already acknowledged and understand what I can see now. Maybe they’ve seen beyond the ropes, pulleys and attachments and now just relax and watch the play. Their wisdom has a price in time which they have paid, and I haven’t.

Sometimes I wish I was in the play, acting out a part like the rest of the cast. Sometimes I wish I was part of the crowd down below. They can enjoy the play without any care to what is going on behind the scenes. They can absorb it without seeing the mechanisms that make the alternative world seem real, and hence they can almost become a part of it. I didn’t want the complimentary ticket, I want to be able to pay to sit in the stalls, and be ignorant of anything but the play... it’s too late now ‘.
Alternatively, perhaps if I was only ever in the stalls, I wouldn’t have appreciated the magnificence that the designer wanted to create with his auditorium? Every little hand crafted detail far away from the eyes of audience. Hours of work only to be scanned for milliseconds from its inhabitants! They miss that beauty. Is that my wisdom?

Where is the best place to be in this arena?

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Starless

Starless

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Good evening Mayfair :)

I've just read your chapter on OCD - I like your theories. They make an awful lot of sense. A few things struck me that I wanted to comment on;

One conscious memory that I can recall is that silly old adage that most of us will have heard when we were young, which is: ‘don’t walk on the cracks (in the pavement), or else something bad will happen’. I am not suggesting phrases like this would cause OCD. This is using an exaggerated example to show what I mean as being what might be considered to be a ‘seed’. I can remember this, as you may also remember; but how many terms or phrases on these lines, might have been absorbed by us as youngsters, but in a subconscious context?
I can remember hearing lots of things like this in the playground when I was at school, though no specific examples other than yours. (Specifically in primary school aged 4 - 11. I found it was a lot less prominent in high school - maybe due to the influence of older peers reguarding such superstitions as "silly"?) Someone here coined the phrase "magical thinking" - I would think that's got a lot to do with it. At an age where such thinking is not only normal, but encouraged by parents/teachers/books & media aimed at young children it would make sense for these small superstitions to bear enough weight with a child for them to stay with us at a subconscious level well into adulthood.

I’m a great fan of old buildings, and I noticed on this occasion that of all the old buildings that I seem to like, most of them were symmetrical buildings.
I found this yesterday on my internet travels and thought you might find it interesting if you like very old buildings as well as just old buildings!

‘You are going abroad with some friends; you pull away in the vehicle that is taking you to the airport. Someone in the car regularly pats their pocket to ensure that the passport is in there’.

Have you ever done this? Or do you know someone that has done this? This doesn’t necessarily mean that this person has OCD. I’ve seen and heard of this occurring numerous times, and by people that have few other traits similar to OCD. However this event is a way that someone with no knowledge of OCD might be able to comprehend this theory.
Your Memory Stress theory resonated with me. While I wouldn't consider myself to suffer with OCD, I can identify with the multi-action routine. As you know, I'm agoraphobic but there are times when I have to leave the house. I have a routine I adhere to every time which doesn't take long, but makes me feel secure enough to leave my home "unattended". I put my keys in my front left jeans pocket every time and check they're there every few minutes while I'm getting the rest of my things ready. Once I've left I have to make triple sure that I have indeed closed the door properly (it's on one of those catch things so technically always locked unless I forget to close the damned thing!) and consciously tell myself that it is closed and therefore safe. If I forget to check the door is closed/locked when I do leave I will have to come back as soon as I realise I can't remember having made the counscious memory. Similarly, I check my left jeans pocket when I'm out to make sure that my keys are still there, even though rationality tells me that I've not taken anything out of the pocket and that nobody could have taken them without me noticing. I find the checking also soothes my anxiety of being outside because I know that when I do return home, I can do so without any problems.


Apologies for waffling on. :)
 
angiebib1976

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I have a headache now!!!! But really interesting stuff. :)
 
Mayfair

Mayfair

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Got funeral music in my head, my own fault for over listening to same things.



Having severe thoughts.

More music perhaps. I tried.

Nothing can stop an intrusive thought.

:(
 
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calypso

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Mayfair, are you OK? Bit worried about you with that post.
 
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