When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, there was one photojournalist who was being interviewed on CNN whose observations fascinated me. He said he had never seen anything like it: what was supposed to be inside ended up outside. What was outside ended up inside. What was usually found up was now down. What was usually down was now up.
It was an astute observation: cars and street signs flew into houses just as furniture flew out of them. Things on the ground ended up on roofs and things on top of buildings plummeted to the ground.
Nature took man-made truisms and flipped them, bringing devastation.
Everything people in the area once took for granted was in reverse, and it ruined their lives because your car should not be on your roof and your bed should not be in the streets.
That was the reality people were facing. Some had to permanently leave the state because of it.
They could never recover.
In alchemy, there is an expression, As above, so below. What it means is that people on the top of a pecking order are no better or worse than the ones on the bottom. They are not smarter, more virtuous, or different. The machinations those on the bottom use to survive are of the same ilk as those on the top.
And yet, flip the dynamic and everything does change, and radically so.
We can say the same thing about insiders and outsiders: those on the fringe think the same way as those who make their world in a coveted inner circle. We take for granted how random life truly is, but turn the tables, and people implode.
How does it happen?
Doesn't it prove that above and below are not the same?
What it proves is that people are rote beings and creatures of habit who always look at half a picture: they crow about being one half all of the time: Left and Right.
People look at the content of their beliefs and think they are somehow different than those they disagree with, but conveniently ignoring that they both use the same structure of thought.
You see both the Left and the Right stoop to meme posters calling the other side stupid and evil.
When one is thrown out of power, they are screaming as if the the world is ending, but when they win, they crow how the dawn of a new world is beginning.
Change the dynamics, and people can no longer function rationally.
When it is a physical cataclysm, people must face what they are forced to see.
There is no sunny spinning your car crushing your loved one when it has been hurled into the sky and fell from your roof and into your bedroom. There is no meme poster that is going to change that reality.
And imagine someone putting a meme poster on their Facebook wall decreeing that you are wrong because you were hit by natural disaster.
Or are dismissed because you were nowhere near it.
We know our lives can be forever devastated if something physical disrupts our everyday existence, from a hurricane levelling our home to someone kidnapping us and torturing us.
You do not just snap back after getting diagnosed with a terminal illness or you lose your job.
But when it is all intangible, we assume the effects are somehow different.
I find the Left-Right artificial divide very peculiar. It is as if the person hit by a hurricane thinks his pain is more legitimate than the one hit by the tsunami, and vice versa.
And they plaster disrespectful meme posters on social media as if this were a sane, rational, or even mature or moral thing to do.
People who were hit by the ravages of Hurricane Katrina were flung down a rabbit hole where up was down; down was up; outside was inside, and inside was outside.
There was no denying it. There was no meme poster, argument, appeal, propaganda campaign, or spin that was going to magically erase that reality.
People were in a rabbit hole where their lives were flipped, and the result was permanent damage. Their lives would always be radically different than the rote habit they were accustomed to living.
They had to face it because their lives were on the line.
So why haven't we ever acknowledged the rabbit hole the Internet created?
More specifically, social media.
I have written at length how journalism was the biggest casualty of that hurricane, and they still are in denial. They still do not get that up went down, down went up, in went out, and out went in.
Had they seen it, they could have easily adapted.
They still behave as they have a castle and crown.
Journalism doesn't get why they cannot connect to people: because the Internet was a hurricane that did more than just flip things around: they mushed them all together, bringing the worst traits out in the human race, and then created followers who now had a peculiar buffet of bad habits to devour into their own psyches.
It is why we have such a societal mess that will come back to haunt this era for decades to come.
Because social media is a passive and me-centred medium that encourages following and rote thinking, original and visionary thought got bulldozed over.
So we have young people behave old and old people behave young, when neither should.
You have Millennials demanding guaranteed income, which is basically a pension. You have Baby Boomers dying their hair purple and getting tattoos when they should have the maturity to see shallow cosmetic alterations bring nothing substantive. It doesn't matter if you wear a white shirt or a black shirt. It doesn't make you a different person. That's the easy solution thinking of the inexperienced young who are not emotionally developed enough to be able to look for more substantial meaning, and know they lack to gravitas to obtain it; and so, they start with easy hacks, only to discover it cannot replace personal development.
But youth believe they are old. Old believe they are young. One sees the other, and then follow, regardless if the path is a garden one that will impede them.
March lockstep to your own peril.
It not just about age. It is about socioeconomic status.
We have rich entitled people "take a knee" or brag about being in a "resistance" as if they were poor and shut out of opportunities. They ride in limos demanding socialist policies as they sign their multi-million dollar endorsement deals and abuse their Third World nannies.
It is an outrage of the worst sort. The Establishment who have achieved fame and fortune throwing fits as if they cannot buy a loaf of bread.
We have middle class people with no deep knowledge or expertise decreeing how governments should be run, but when you ask the most basic of questions, have zero idea who is in the power in their own area, and repeatedly confuse which level of government is responsible for what parts of basic life.
And yet they issue their royal edicts on their social media, yet would howl if you used their own logic to tell them how to raise their children or be a less defective spouse to their mate being as ignorant of their home life as they are in regards to their civic life.
They see how the rich and powerful behave through social media, and have now taken in those traits as their own.
Following whatever you see on social media and taking it in as your own, whether or not it is harmful or in your range of abilities or even rights to do so.
Then there are the poor, and many who do not see themselves as poor. They can afford tattoos, cigarettes, weed, beer, cable, wifi, and even a smart phone.
They roll their eyes at the rich, looking down on them for wanting change and resistance. The government is fine as it is, thank you, very much, and really, what more can you ask when you can even be a broadcaster posting anything and everything on your social media feed.
You have men strut around as feminists, and women strut around as misogynists. You have rich white men plaster their social media feed about the evils of rich white men.
You have the stinking rich want socialism and the dirt poor rallying for capitalism. You have old people making the same amateur errors as the young, and the young wanting to take no risks as they demand guarantees as if they have paid into the system and now want their dividends.
The fluidity had made a mess of almost everything, but even now, one group has broken through. We talk about transgender rights because in a world where everything is fluid, people can finally be able to relate to those who never fit into the old linear divides.
But even so, social media created a rabbit hole. It has, ironically, shut out reality and immersed people into their own fantasies where their theories are shielded from actually be tested and proven wrong.
Stare at the smartphone looking for everything that confirms your decrees, and your unnatural habits become reinforced, creating rote thinking that recoils at ideological experimentation and innovation.
But what I find most fascinating about the rabbit hole is its myth that it has eroded boundaries. It hasn't, and in fact, has entrenched them more deeply.
You have judgemental and puritanical drug pushers now. Twitter is downright Victorian in its structure. The Left have withered into helmet-hair old ladies in spirit, gossiping vilely about those on the Right as if they were sitting in church. You have atheists blindly follow whatever their chosen authorities dictate to them as the religious once did. People who thump on the Origin of Species have no inkling about the scientific method and spew whatever flawed study comes from a STEM-based area, without knowing that most studies are problematic to the point of being unusable.
Social media promised easy solutions with cheats and hacks with some benevolent and mysterious They to do all of the heavy thinking. It was the Promised Land where liberation of free speech would transform into your own personal Fairy Godmother who had nothing better to do with her time and powers than act as your personal unpaid intern and servant.
No effort? No problem. Just follow the links in front of you as the Great White Maze will guide to Paradise.
Except it wasn't paradise. It was a rabbit hole. We never had such a creation, and had no compass or roadmap knowing what to expect from it -- or how it would transform us -- or oppress us.
It took the worst traits and reinforced them, and people could see how the other half misbehaves, and then ideologically appropriate those structural traits and take them as their own, no matter how flawed or dysfunctional they were, or harmful for us.
We are encouraged to follow, never actually lead.
Or just go into the world and find truths by facing reality.
What we are seeing is the homogenization of intellectual structure, meaning we are not creating new structures of thinking, but appropriating already-established structures and taking them in as our own.
They may be new to us, but they are not new, and there is a world of difference.
Journalism got lost in that rabbit hole. The Jabberwocky devoured it because it cornered it.
With journalism destroyed, everyone ran into that same hole, and their world was flipped and reversed. It broke barriers, but replaced them with different ones; so those who were up behaved as if they were down and vice versa. Insiders thought they were outsiders, and again, vice versa.
But people didn't see the shifts and used the old labels, thinking that staying on the Left made them hip and progressive, when they failed to see they flipped to the other side.
It's why we have perpetual outrage. Nothing is actually working out because reality is hidden and no one sees the reversals.
It is a new board game. No more chess, but Go. The old tricks aren't working. Even those who created the rabbit hole have lost control of their contrived Wonderland, and are trying to impose rules with more outrage ensuing.
It is topsy-turvy with no one knowing who or what they have become.
It is ideological anarchy and repression at the same time.
And the wild ride isn't over yet...