Synopsis: A nice lady's inner dialog spirals out of control as she is born into her new reality.
Through our binoculars we see Gladys from afar. Her head fills the entirety of the viewable space. Her consternation, apparent. Slightly squinted eyes, her lower lip curling beneath her teeth, eyebrows arcing up to the center of her forehead. Her breathing, though cadent, is heavy and forced. She's been perfectly still for a while, so it's unlikely her body needs this much oxygen. She could be in danger, but we're too far away to help. And, truth be told, we simply don't care enough about her well-being to intervene anyhow. Instead, we'll remain in our unaccountable, voyeuristic pose afforded by our hidden position, watch this neighbor implode. And to make the experience more intimate, in we zoom, closer. Even pores emerge. Errant, un-plucked eyebrow hairs. Delicate skin flutters around her eyes, dancing to the tune of her wobbling psyche! Hand to popcorn, let's settle in for the show! Our dear Gladys is making her offstage debut.
Oh yes, classic case here, seen it a million times! If we just tweak the filtration on our binoculars, up the amplitude and flip on the natural language decoder we can... ah yes! There it is, the feed is now coming through! Gladys, we hear your dear soul screaming from adjacent wavelengths! Dig, dig deep! Now breath, and lay thy burdens upon me.
...and, it's like they want you to feel as though you are in control, that's the whole point, the program. Perception is entirely subjective, moveable, manipulable. Perception is of your own creation, it cannot be forcibly injected into your mind. But it doesn't need to be! The inputs that influence perception are theoretically infinite. You CAN control what you imbibe (eat, watch, hear, read), but you can't control what is available for consumption, or that which slips through your well-intentioned filters. You are a sitting duck for highly-crafted, controlled inputs. Your mind is a signal receiver waiting for information upon which to create a narrative, create reality. Perception can be tangible truth even if it's manufactured from lies.
But the children! They don't even have filters yet. They are force-fed their view of the world! Perception as a prison from Day One. Conditioning, perception-shaping, is actually considered responsible parenting. Childhood reality is shaped through a carefully managed, pinhole perception. Take an adult parent's tiny known world, reduce it to comprehendible sound bites for the obliging, conforming child. Son, we eat this not that. Eat the cow, pet the cat. Flametard jammies they're good for your skin, don't touch your penis by God it's a sin! Salute this flag, raise your hand, eat toxic shit crammed in a can. You're not Chinese, eat with your mouth closed, unless you are speaking then anything goes. You must go to sleep. Wake up NOW. Learn this by rote. Test to a standard. Don't wear that. Don't say that. Don't look at me like that. Don't. You're doing it wrong. They will laugh. You will feel pain. Children without any knowledge of the world, given a set of instructions and taught that they are responsible enough to make good choices. Choices. Apparently everything beyond the pinhole's view is irrelevant or nonexistent.
Whoa, Gladys is really going deep here! Her intensity is off the charts, looks at the heat waves wafting from her skull! Are these her realizations, her regrets? Did she accidentally read some conspiracy-looney's advertorial when scrolling through her MSM news feed? What sparked this agitated state? Trapped in the mental-mouse-wheel as she is, will she loop-the-loop, fry her brain into a panic attack? Or, will she build enough speed to self-eject from these dangerous thoughts, drudge mindlessly through the rest of the work-a-day? OR, will she awaken into a new reality?
Then the young adults! Alternatively scorned and coddled until they finally prove make socially-acceptable, free-will decisions on their "own" accord. Good grades on standardized tests displays the ability to regurgitate the victor's history, subsequently diminishing authority's wrath - a pain-free existence for kiddie! Tribal inclusion establishes social boundaries and diminishes peer ridicule - a pain-free existence for kiddie! A tribe's unspoken "standards of self-regulation" as a social control mechanism, a way to avoid emotional punishment - a pain-free option for kiddie! And now for the Great Social Parsing....I'm sorry, but you're not very bright my future tradesman. But you, over there, you're brilliant! Please go to the next level of intellectual institutionalization and become society's new guru. The tradesmen's resentment and the technocrat's optimism as useful levers in the never-ending social battlefield perception. Divide and conquer the intellectual spectrum, it's all grist for the mill when shaping mass reality.
Then, college, at least for the "smart" ones. Latin: collegium - brotherhood/guild/society. Scattered minds are reined in. Good minds are allocated for specialization. Great minds are given a taste of control. Cerebral stimulation from institutionally-acceptable parameters. Broad awareness controlled by and focus onto a small set of functionally-oriented, highly-rationalized curricula. An intentionally-crafted perception of "the world as it is" being the actual educational product (the next great tech is merely a collateral positive). Gatekeepers jingling special keys that unlock doors of opportunity for those who prostrate with obeisance to the status quo. The system becomes perception's modality, it becomes the language and religion by which young minds organize their future existence, and how they "choose" to shape it for progeny. Reality beyond the system is socially superfluous and necessarily shutdown with diminishing labels, dismissive rhetoric, physical threats and organized opposition. The ante goes up in the battle for controlling awareness and perception during this intellectually impressionable time. The trick? - free will must actually feel free to the impressionable mind as it is being curated.
Gladys you 'ol hamburger-flipper you! The fuck have you been reading girlfriend? This is not the smiley Momjeans-wearing neighbor I see snatching Rover's turds off the sunny Saturday sidewalk with the plastic-bag-hand! I don't even see an apple pie in the window today madam, wtf! Focus on the kidlets, maybe bang out a strongly-worded letter to the school board about the shit-quality of the lunch program. You know, if you don't cool your mental you're evening cocktail may be brought to you by Clorox. Go it easy Gladys, you were never meant to save the world.
And the next stage. The menu of soul-crushing modern jobs, stripped of meaning and detached from any sense of human survival - pointless social dances, the illusion of human productivity. Scrub John's skid marks (because his family won't) with a nylon brush if you're an empathetic dimwit. Or, build a flaming escape-dick to Mars (if you're one of those chosen number-people) and save yourself from the earthly ravages caused by prior productivity booms. Or, choose a beautiful bullshit job and spend your days moving bits and bytes around cyberspace - futile work that neither makes, fixes or maintains anything at all! A lifetime passing tiny electrical pulses around the world for no reason whatsoever! It's your choice happy citizen-of-this-glorious-God-loving-social-construct-plopped-atop-land-stolen-from-barbarians-past. The reverberating systemic hypocrisies! Success narrowly defined as an accumulation paper bearing signatures of dead colonialists. Blind masses focused solely on the fiat-scramble, breaking backs to be to be the next asshole-in-charge. Consume! Consume because you can. Consume because you're told you want to consume. Consume because the material distractions numb the existential pain born of false reality. Perception granted by those who cultivate, disseminate it. Truths assailed as conspiracy by the powerful: money created from nothing by a tiny cabal who use it to control the world, war initiated by a profiting cartel, all markets controlled by manipulators, a food system creating disease, a health system prolonging disease, profiteers cloaked as representatives, news manufactured as state propaganda, democracy as historical lie, collusion masked by false opposition, a subconscious molded by mass messaging, history written by the winners. Don't stray from the victor's documented history or ridicule will pull you back under the tent. Social perception.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow it down Gladys! This doesn't concern you, you're special! You were probably the type to cleverly "think-outside-of-the-stupid-fucking-clichéd-box"! Rumor has it, you're a free-thinker, a critical thinker. A skeptic, a doubter! Hell, that fucking T-shirt you are wearing at this moment reveals you Question Authority and everybody knows T-shirts are the best way to live ideals. Don't get caught up in the moment doll, let the other schmucks worry. We implore you Gladys, eject now, drink the Kool-Aid not the Clorox! Soon enough, you can info-dose with the nightly news then amuse yourself to death with a Netflix binge. Say it with me, "Life is Good."
Oh, but how it gets so personal! This compulsive love of shoes and handbags (what happened to my New Year's simplicity?) Isabella's name chosen from the list of "uncommon" names (Fuck, there are four Isabellas in Isabella's class?). That flutter of confidence, the dopamine rush, from that flattering comment on Facebook. My thoughtless, banal tribal tattoo. This idiotically-esoteric diet where I buy all my food online in fancy little boxes. You know what Gladys? You didn't really choose your husband. Convenient proximity did! He got a job at your office because he was fired from his previous gig. You know this intuitively, but prefer to be transported by serendipitous fairytales. Emotional perception. Holy shit...the manner in which I just crafted that thought (that very thought!!), tonally identical to the "clever" conversational antics used in that movie last night (which movie?? wait, what was it about? there are so many of them, they flood together!) The burdensome credit card debt from last year's bathroom reno (how many years to pay this one off Gladys, what just because The Smiths got a new bath??). Loathing the neighbor for their new Benz (more Consumption Jealousy!). Cultural perception. Your missing breast due to known carcinogens. KNOWN. Your healthy son, dead, from an harmless vaccine resulting in a healthy retirement fund paid for by a national vaccine injury compensation program. "But you're overworked Gladys, give yourself a break girlfriend! You're overstressed, attention is divided, you're inundated with too much information, too little time.. Check out for a while, click through the interwebs in a slightly conscious state of relaxing bliss." (and permit any marauding, un-vetted opinions to craft your perceptions for you in your suggestive, uncritical state of being)
But hold on... what is the future? Why would the powerful, even if they can control the inputs, permit the target population to develop it's own perceptions in the first place? This leniency allows for the possibility of dissent among those with a skeptical nature. Undeniable and forcibly delivered perception doesn't require fault tolerance, doesn't care about skeptics! An end game for the powerful would be a tyranny over perception. All perceptive possibilities would be delivered as a mandate, an artificially imposed reality...some sort of neurological implant? Perception, under those circumstances, would be given and undeniable. If there happened to be plausible paths of dissention by the skeptics, it simply wouldn't matter because those paths would lie beyond basic comprehension. Imagine it. A population with a singular track of delivered perception, governing how the entire system functions. A perception that defines which intellectual inputs/outputs are possible, which thoughts/ideas are accessible, and which actions/movements are physically permissible. Total control of the mind's perceptive capability coexisting next to a perfect instantiation of human free will. A perfect society, no individual perception required, allowed, known or extant. Just a collective, predetermined instance of reality: coded, disseminated and floating about in the electronic neural-soup that gently washes upon the shores of the infinite expanse of universal consciousness.
As we pull back from our zoom on Glady's thoughts, her shoulders come into view. They oscillate slightly. Is she rocking back and forth, a soothing repetition? Further out, we see her arms in motion. She's not rocking, no, she's doing something hastily with her arms. Further out, two furry, triangular objects come into view, twitching violently. And as we place the entirety of Gladys' body in our viewfinder, we see her eyes large and fixed, a knife in hand. We watch as Gladys, with her absent-minded cadence, spreads a thick coat of butter upon the back of a disgruntled cat. Her toast sits lonely on the countertop. Gladys, are you there?
- images are taken from either pixabay or Google images (labeled for reuse) and are free to use under creative commons.
- original story - content belongs to Daniel Shortell