Humanity uncorked

This week's guest writer, Kevin Ducoing, is a year-round bicycle commuter, year-round photoshopper of cats, artist, kayaker, Tough Mudderer, and drinker of beer. He lives in an almost continuous state of laughter.

Humanity uncorked

By Kevin Ducoing

((( 5:30 ))) 

This is when I am jarred awake on any given weekday morning.

It’s always the same: Fall out of bed, stumble out of the bedroom while tearing myself out of the dream state, amble to the living room where my running gear waits, then begin the stiff fresh-out-of-bed robotic morning regimen of stretching for my run.

Things come into focus while standing in pose for optimum hamstring stretch, and I note the iPad sitting where I left it the night before, on the coffee table next to an empty bourbon glass. 

Push the power button, and my face is aglow with the bluish-gray screen of The Facebook. 

The story from last night is still looking back at me, as is the bourbon glass, sketchbook, candle, and stray napkin, all frozen in a tableau of previous evening activity. 

It is the Museum of Natural History of Me, featuring the Previous Night Era, circa mid-January 2016.

There are 'more stories’, facebook informs me, reminding me that while I slept, the world continued on, and the sun didn’t actually set but continued burning nonstop, as it has for billions of years, and will continue to do for billions of years after my little self-important jaunt of a life comes to an end. 

I am content in this universe of facebookery, which, I hear from self-deprecating friends, is just a playground for the older set, and isn't where it's at. I need to instagram and stuff. But do I really? Do I need to see more stuff? 

I recognize the facebook addiction, but practice moderation in that I only practice facebook. Holding yoga-like poses while balancing the iPad and refreshing the 'news' feed is a well-versed circus act, as I see who stayed up later than me, ranting about gun control, the World that Obama Ruined, or letting me know that a celebrity died, minutes before it became common news.

Fully awake now, changing poses, thoughts turn to my last post. Who liked it? Who didn't like it? I hope so-and-so liked it, because I like them. I enjoy their coziness sprinkled with just enough raw honesty and wry humour that their company is anticipated. Maybe they would be exactly that way if I ever met them outside this idealized world. 

The angry devoutly political friend who ranted about last night's post (a gentle jab at gun-lovers) left the all-caps on: A clue, perhaps, that if we were at a backyard barbecue, he'd probably be presenting his pocket-constitution, along with a bulging vein on his forehead and a raised voice. 

A few beats later, the room is too quiet. Without realizing, I have wasted several minutes scrolling past opinions, platitudes, opinions-in-news-clothing, observations, complaints, Tourette's-like bursts of song lyrics, heartfelt pleas to read this story that defines so-and-so's daily plight. 

Abruptly, I leave the house and run out into the cold dark morning of the physical world.

There is comfort in the real world. In the Real World, your voice is physical. You move objects within this world. You *are* an object in this world. I take immense comfort in this. 

You live with your choice of words and the effects they have on the audience of cats or co-workers around you. Life is continual damage control of the sometimes benevolent, sometimes disastrous, but always ceaseless, oil spill of your actions upon the world.

Seeing myself as a logical, fallible, but quick to shut myself up before blurting the first emotional response sort of person, I am resistant to parroting the idea that the world has 'gone crazy' or 'is going to hell before our very eyes’. 

Surely the world in which I live is filled with people who keep the complex machinery running, without subscribing to the surprisingly naive opinions of the people who are in a place of supposed authority. 

Surely the occasional good idea isn't lost adrift on the evident sea of awful ideas and reactionary fear. 

Does facebook allows us a glimpse into the heart of humankind? Maybe, the dominant but doggedly doubtful part of me whispers to the enraged sledge hammer part of me that just wants to smash everything, maybe I put too much emphasis on the idea that the true state of humanity is warped through the lens of facebook. 

Most times on social media, quick judgement runs amok, emotional people get equal voice, if only for a moment; stubborn people continue talking even after they have been vetted as misinformed, or just a parrot for someone else's agenda. 

However, this disembodied flood of ideas is coming from real people who are thinking these real thoughts. As silly or trite as much of it is, this is humanity uncorked and in its chunky unfiltered state.

If the recent fascinating rise of Donald Trump has shown us anything, it would be the game-changing power of our gullibility and disinterest in differing viewpoints. We strain to imagine anyone who would subscribe to Trump's parade, but there he is, and there they are, all the excruciatingly base, bigoted, sad, angry observations on social media that are put there by actual people, people around us, people you see on the street, the people driving cars that I hope don’t hit me as I’m out on my morning run, and the barista who you trust didn't spit in your cappuccino.

Philosophically, there is little difference between social media and the real world. In the real world, we are expected to act civilly, and we do, depending on the interaction, but the feces-throwing monkey that is just behind the veil of tight-lipped daily routine is on full display in social media.

This thinking can put one on the defensive, or inwardly make us feel better about ourselves. My 'take away' from social media is: People are hilarious, people are full of love, people are disturbingly myopic, people are angry, impatient, lonely, sensual, and amazingly, frustratingly complex. I marvel at how we keep it all together, just like real life.

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