Hysteria 2020 (General)

by dulan drift, Monday, April 27, 2020, 08:43 (517 days ago)

Here's a topic that rarely gets a mention in the media - partly because there's nothing the media likes more than some good ol' fashioned hysteria to drive a story - so it's counter-productive to be pointing it out.

As such, it's still not entirely clear to me if what we're experiencing now is a 'virus event' or an 'hysteria event'. Even if you accept all the strategies employed to contain the virus are necessary it still needs to be acknowledged that the world is the grip of an unprecedented level of hysteria. It's just as real as the virus - in fact it spreads in a very similar fashion.

A few points to consider:

1. Hysteria breeds hysteria - it becomes an infectious self-perpetuating system once it reaches a critical mass of circulation amongst the population.
2. It creates it's own reality. Even if there are no rational reasons for the hysteria, the consequences of that hysteria are real.
3. By it's nature, it can't be 'cured' by rational arguments - all that gets burned up in the bonfire of hysteria as it runs its course. It sucks everything else into it.
4. Hysteria grips a population with 'the same thought at the same time'. Normally thoughts are more scattered across different subject clusters - they balance each other out - but hysteria creates a singularity system - similar to the way a typhoon engulfs other weather systems into a swirling destructive force.

There has always been hysteria - the fact we have a word for it proves that - but the internet has enabled it to spread worldwide on an incredible scale. In recent times we have seen three major outbreaks that have been turbo-charged by the internet.

1. Trump's campaign and election. Trump is a master at stirring up hysteria - he was able to make it work for him by getting everyone's thoughts - good or bad - concentrated on himself. It's not just the people at his rallies yelling out US-A! either - even many of those who purport to oppose him such as the Washington Post and The Guardian are obsessed with him. Their papers are full of stories about him - they contribute to the hysteria event just as much as supporters.

2. The Australian Fires. This is more of a localized outbreak but it fully engulfed Australia achieving the singularity of thought concentration that characterizes an hysteria event. The causes of it (climate change multiplied by farmers doing burn-offs too late in the season) were lost in the general hysteria.

3. The Big One. Blanket media coverage to the exclusion of all else - the greatest example of human thought being concentrated on a single event at the same time.

So where is it all going? The key point is the singularity. Hysteria is a black-hole event that collapses everything else into it. With the agency of the internet all this information is sucked into a central point of gravitational pull.

Sociologically - large scale death in poor countries due to the breakdown of supply lines and a dramatic leap forward in the consolidation of personal data in a central command point. Social unrest remains to be seen. The reaction in Australia is surprisingly docile and accepting, though there are signs of unrest in other places.

Philosophically - the diversity of existence arose from a singularity - the ancient philosopher Anaxagoras called it 'nous' - something like 'thought as a pure concept'. Are we, for better or worse, inexorably on the way back to collapsing into that state of singularity again?

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