Saturday, 13 April 2013

Facebook

It is well known amongst educationalists that if you are struggling to get a shy child to communicate what they have learnt, it is often successful to give the child a puppet or a bear and let the child express the ideas it has through the puppet or the bear.  The child invests some effort into constructing the personality of the toy (over which it has total ownership) and is therefore quite happy to let the toy voice opinions.  It depersonalises the right and wrong of what may or may not be being said.  If it get things wrong, it is the bear that has got things wrong and not the child.

I have been wondering if Facebook works along similar lines.  However, before I go any further I will have to admit to being a Facebook virgin, I only know about it in theory and from what people tell me and from the damage it does to the relationships the teenagers I teach have with each other. What I find fascinating is that people do adopt Facebook personas.  You read what they write (I've seen screen dumps of argument threads) and you can hear their voices, but yet it isn't them.  They are in some ways bolder, in other ways more trivial and careless than the individuals you know in real life.  It is something to hide behind, it is a stage onto which you can project a certain representation of who you'd like to be at that precise moment.  And critically, for Facebook you NEED an immediate audience, these are your "friends".  I think it would be very rare to find someone who was self-assured enough to be themselves on Facebook, warts and all.

So it involves the projection of a certain image, it means that when a "conversation" happens on Facebook it is not a conversation reaching cor ad cor.  It is "my projection of myself reaching out and wanting your projection of yourself to make some sort of response to this".  The danger really is, that people believe their Facebook persona to be them.  It is, it has to be, a shallow, vague approximation of the person with all the difficult and deep bits removed.  As a forum for people getting to know each other, ie. become real friends, it sucks. It will always have the fallback position of becoming Punch and Judy or Sooty and Sweep.
Harry Corbett and friends.

As least with blogging, a blogger is writing the thoughts wafting through her skull, it is a diary of sorts but in the public domain, and as such it does not demand responses.  A blog isn't crying out for attention and "likes", it just sits there, the static creation of a flawed creator who for some unfathomable reason doesn't mind their thoughts potentially going global. Though I am left wondering if bloggers are therefore wierder, and even less emotionally stable than regular Facebook* users.

*There are other Social Networking outlets.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Bolshevism

I'm way out of my depth here.  But in doing the Mgr Ratti memorial train ride from Manchester to Oxford yesterday (and making sure I didn't twist my ankle), I was struck by a quote of his made during his pontificate:
No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true Socialist...the parent of this cultural Socialism [the insinuating and indeed plausible forms of Socialism] is Liberalism, and that its offspring will be Bolshevism.

I'm just wondering how much truth there is in this.  Indeed if it is true, then we are living under Bolshevism, we are certainly post-Socialist.  If we define Bolshevism as a "dictatorship of the proletariat", then I do believe we are living in under Bolshevism and the slide away from a Common Good is gaining momentum.
  1. We are a majority proletariat; we either definitely own no property or we "own" a whacking great mortgage as a pretence to home ownership. Few of us have any ownership over the means of production.  And so many of us work for the State which claims to be running our health service and education system and social structures for our benefit. The old divisions between wage and salary are eroding in light of the bonus culture and performance related pay for what were typically salaried "professions" like teaching and medicine. 
  2. Professionalism has been eroded.  Everything is done to government set criteria.  The government knows best how to treat illness, what to teach our children, how to stop the spread of bovine TB......you name it, they know best, because they are working for us.
  3. Governments are repeatedly fond of appealing to the "majority" opinion of the proletariat.  They are not driven by any other ideology than to remain in power by pretending to give the people what they want.  "Public opinion" (basically who shouts loudest in the media) is deemed a worthy argument winner.
  4. Meanwhile the proletariat, if they are employed, find increasing job insecurity, and work is often incessantly hard and time consuming and increasingly meaningless.
  5. There is no moral code, no ethics, no appeal to tradition or history, no sense of our Christian heritage and if you are not a moral relativist, you are intolerant and a bigot.
  6. Our society is anti-learning for learning's sake, anti any view that we have a higher calling to holiness, anti-God, anti-beauty, anti-paternal, anti-maternal, anti-rest and relaxation.  Our society is shallow and emotive, and obsessed with image, immediate gratification and material gain.
  7. There is an overall poverty of experience in society, indeed small scale social order which should be the bedrock of any civilisation via the family and small local communities working within their natural environment is seriously emasculated.
  8. Vast amounts of data are stored about us over which we have no control.  Increasingly our civil liberties are being eroded in the name of combating terrorism and fighting for our liberty.
  9. Technology is deskilling us and indeed few of us would survive if the infrastructures built up  by the state vanished overnight.
  10. The state would be happiest if we never thought for ourselves, if our views never came down to strict moral absolutes, if we believed in their notions of democracy, freedom and fairness.  The state has constructed the new proletariat and a new amoral proletarian cultural hegemony is in full swing.
Bolshevism by defintion makes no appeal to a Higher Authority; the teaching of the Gospel, the Sovereignty of Christ, no appeal to the sanctity of our lives.  Yes, I do believe modern society is decidedly Bolshevik with attendant Liberal grandparent. No leader, alive or recently dead has got to the heart of the rot around us which is surely Liberalism.