The twisting of truth and the manipulation of tolerance, I reckon, are two key threats to human dignity and world peace as we enter into the new year. These two factors synchronise with the continuing trends in dehumanisation and marginalisation of the work, social and life experience for individuals.
They underlie many of the critical factors causing contemporary major issues today.
We have developed an environment where human interaction is lessened, dealing with artificial systems have increased and our individual privacy reduced.
Our sanctity can be violated without us knowing, our movements are being watched or monitored increasingly and influence forums can dictate to us without understanding better our concerns.
Many of us are brainwashed into thinking that drugs and other forms of manufactured addictions can make us happy, but not the development of our inner selves. Society seems to want us to rely on something and anything outside ourselves for calmness and happiness - do we not see this as a fallacy imposed on us as a means of control?
Things and services come to us increasingly hidden from source - and it is not just the food supply chain.
The irony is we do have better means of communication and yet so called modern society has seen a fall in rewarding human contact. Be honest - apart from family, one spends more meaningful time with smart phones, cyberspace and machines than with other human beings. Even if the world population has increased by leaps and bounds, most people to us are just a blurry mass of passer-bys in transit or in the digital media.
Therein lie the seeds for the powerful and the hidden to continue exerting control, without most of us realising this.
Tampering with what is Truth
Social media can more efficiently reinforce what like minded people already want to believe, as they network in repeated and regularly utilised channels.
Like minded individuals are linked together in cyberspace according to various factors - age demographics, religious affinity, social ladders, financial ability, health requirements, mobility channels, primary social interests and more.
Like any human invention and action, the evolving world of new communication tools can have double edged sword effects. False news has already permeated Facebook posts, but this is only the latest in a series of like events on the Internet, like tampering of photos; stealing of identity, funds and personal data; abuse and bullying in cyberspace and other matters that bring up the worst in human behaviour and soul.
Manipulation of truth is for convenience for the powerful - call it "fake news" when it suits them.
Individuals no longer need to be physically present to expound ideas, argue a case and lead many. Most no longer assess a leader in the flesh to make up the mind to follow, support or rebel.
They just can be in the comfort of sitting on their bums and tweet, blog, Instagram, WhatsApp..... The ease with which freedom of expression can be carried out in this world of cyberspace already has governments of various shades earnestly watching and taking action of various kinds, whether good or not so good - who am I to judge?
Conventional media like television has actively resorted to embracing social media for sourcing of material and discussion.
The new technology is a commercial marketing tool, but also allows the proliferation of more diverse opinions, to such an extent that unsuspecting, not savvy and uninformed audiences can get caught up in a mish-mash of over loaded data and information. If there was an old Tower of Babel in the proliferation of a thousand languages, there is a now a new age Babel in the blooming of shared thoughts.
The use of smart phone apps has kicked out slower processes like emails, provided more responsive gratification, made a reality lightning sharing of images and facilitated easier duplication of messages.
Almost everyone with a smart phone spend more time near their mobile gadgets than with their loved ones, or with Nature.
There is only limited time available in a day and there is an opportunity cost in paying attention and in using any one of the wide array of so called personal machine options for work, entertainment, money making and social interaction. Broadcast media learnt this many years ago with the arrival of You Tube.
The rise in distortion and manipulation of facts can be countered with more options to validate and verify, but not just through social media. Effort and human discretion using our intelligence are still tools to mitigate the risks of being sucked in with untruths, half truths and propaganda. Reflect on how wars are started, election outcomes have consequences and regulators are hoodwinked or prejudiced.
The contemporary danger is that the rabble can be aroused much more easily and faster even before truth is separated from the selective lie.
When truth is tainted, our own tolerance levels change - we can become hardened, softened or confused.
Toleration has Boundaries
Rising intolerance can be nurtured by those in power for their own personal, social and religious agendas. Rising intolerance can also grow due to poor management of expectations.
Western civilisation, I am taught, liberates the common man and woman in many democratic ways - we are nurtured to have ethics and respect for our fellow human beings. Every one has a powerful individual vote as a citizen and the age of technology is supposed to provide more personal freedoms. Really?
Other civilisations do not put the individual on a pedestal, but emphasise the significance of a greater devotion to the community above the individual needs. So toleration for individual opinions is managed in the context of whether it contributes to the greater good. But what is greater good, it can be subjective to many in societies encouraged to express and discuss.
The worst experience for any of us as a modern person is to have a specific party pronouncing this and behind our backs, actually doing something else. Our expectations have been put high and then delivery and outcome is far from the promise.
When we lose belief in the way specific institutions have treated and betrayed us, or done nothing to try resolve socio-political matters, we lose heart. A collective disappointment will affect our tolerance levels, whether in a village, town, province or country.
Speed and Accessibility
These are nothing new in the landscape of human history. What is different now is the speed of communication and nature of influence. When shared information can be spread and emphasised in seconds, the dynamics of influence work more effectively to spread planned opinions through lightning speed multiplier effects.
Human society is once again on the cusp of change from the previous socio-political order. Many current world wide organisations originated from the aftermath of the Second World War and the period of domination by the USA in the socio-political landscape.
It is surely logical and timely for the emergence of frameworks and structures in a new world order. Isn't this the lot of mankind as history marches on?
The New Human Longing
What appreciates in value to the human being experience are longings for more natural and sincere experiences.
If we can create businesses that cater to providing better humanisation of experience, especially for infants and the elderly, this may be the clue for potentially rewarding activities of the future. Artificial mechanisms can lower cost but does not provide the total optimal solution for human needs.
Imagine an increasing reality of human beings being surrounded by software, systems and artificiality in most aspects of life. It can be cost effective but also lead to a person's heightened vulnerability of being undermined by invisible lights, hijacked by new vulnerabilities and given less personal freedoms.
One bad day the whole dependency by the world on cyberspace clouds, intelligent software and Wi-Fi will be hijacked by those who already know the art of manipulating truth and have their own views of the world.
Human society is not infallible - contemporary society has relied too long and too much on petroleum for example without doing much to wean off.
Skills to develop and support a more automated, virtual environment will be in demand. So will be in increased demand for skills and approaches of those individuals with talents for better inspiring, interacting with and influencing inner human needs - as opposed to just fulfilling material and physical wants.
Are you ready to utilise these coming opportunities? What are you doing to retain your own personal self-worth and unique integrity? Every individual has her or his tolerance boundaries - are yours being manipulated?