Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What I mean when I talk about Everyone?

I was relatively recently given feedback by my friend that I use 'Everyone does...' and 'But everyone thinks...' type arguments a bunch. This conversation was actually recorded, so I could go back and listen to it specifically but it's good feedback.

Firstly because 'Everyone' statements are much weaker arguments than 'I' statements. Even though our mathematical intuitions may be telling us that surely the argument 'Everybody thinks you're a joke' has got to weigh more than 'I think you are a joke.' But fact is, claims about what Everyone thinks, feels, says or does are almost never literally true - therefore easy to disprove, and when a handy exception is seized, the argument worded so strongly can be easily discarded. Whereas an argument about your internal subjective state is very hard to disprove by your adversary. Just please be honest when presenting statements of how you think, do and feel.

But what of everyone as some non-literal undefined term I nevertheless expect to have currency when I throw it lazily about in descriptions of the world I live in? What the fuck do I think I'm talking about? Who am I talking about?

I've given this some thought and though I don't really know exactly the context of use that I was pulled up on, I feel it worthwhile to describe who I think these Everyone are.

A few posts or so ago I titled a post Zombiecide in which I speculated as to why Zombie apocalypse where such a popular and sustained genre, even when zombies are pretty boring monsters in the Monster Hall of Fame.

When I talk about 'Everyone' I feel I'm referring to the fact that cities don't really exist. There's no community of 4 million people on Earth let alone Melbourne and to suggest a city like New York or Tokyo is a cohesive community of ascendingly vast populations is something I say fie to as well.

We all live in villages, and perhaps with all the synthetic community substitutes, we increasingly live on farmsteads in reality. We know at any given time about 30 people really well, and max out at about 150-200 people we know.

Which is to say, I may know about 1000 of the denizens of Melbourne, but not all live in my village. Furthermore technology has allowed my village to exist as a diaspora across the vastness of Melbourne instead of plots of land along a main road or in some mountain valley or clustered together on a lush plain.

Author China Mieville wrote this book the City and the City that if you're familiar with that story may help to think of. In that book two cities lived on top of each other and had strict laws against 'breaching' from one city into the other, the citizens of both cities trained into ignoring eachother's existence.

Old London may be a useful concept to think of as well. London is now a massive city, but it has actually engulfed small towns as the city expanded over years and incorporated these villages into areas now regarded as suburbs and subsequently parts of London.

I'm going to say we live in a social village, due to the limits of the part of our brain that can process social functions and physical cities.

When I talk about everyone, I'm talking about everyone I don't know. All those people that like the City & the City, are kind of out of focus in my life. I don't particularly care what they think, what they are doing and my eye is no more trained to really pick out individuals than it is to discern which fish is which in an aquarium contained school of sardines.

Rather I notice how they are the same, and Everyone begins to become an individual an individual that is the averaged stable behaviors of everyone I don't know. All the common patterns that not quite anyone actually possesses all of.

So Everyone uses their phone far too much, depends on it, is averse to risk, emotionally invested in the notion that hard work is rewarded and those rewards can be used to consume things that will make them happier, is ignorant on any given subject under the sun yet considers themselves informed enough to opine and act on their often second hand beliefs. Everyone is time poor, and obsessed with boasting of the fact in the guise of a complaint. Everyone is an addict, and often with slow acting but debilitating mental and physical issues. Everyone hates everyone.

That's who I'm talking to. Pluck a sardine from the school of Everyone and say 'Here's Everyone' it's going to say 'My name is Brandon.' or some shit. You've seen everyone around though. They can change over time. That's everyone's most redeeming feature.

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