exceeded our humanity…”
-- Albert Einstein
Guerrilla Decontextualization is a study of trends in social media, mainstream media, and general human conduct that focuses on the practice of intentionally distorting images or information for the purpose of gaining influence or popularity. Examples of it are easy to spot in some 2012 political campaign ads when a candidate for a particular office tries to dig up dirt on another candidate and uses certain phrases from interviews (as well as private conversations) or excerpts from a video, to make it look as if that one phrase or image tells the whole story.
It may be that the only true or accurate context for any given event––i.e., the birth of an idea, a conversational exchange, a clash or embrace between two or more entities–– is the moment in which it occurs. Everything else is a slanted interpretation, leaning either more toward or away from unadorned reality. The lean toward truth, though it can be excruciatingly painful, is one that ultimately helps individuals and societies further define and experience the voluptuous complexities of what we call our humanity. The lean toward falsehood reflects an aspect of that same humanity but corrupts our greatest potential for its higher expression. The pendulum of history as we are experiencing it in this second decade of the 21st century seems to swing with sharp suspense back and forth between these possibilities.
The above quote by celebrated physicist and visionary Albert Einstein is a relatively popular one. Less popular is another corresponding observation by Einstein: “…Technological progress is like an ax in the hands of a pathological criminal.” That part of the quote is less popular because it is less inspiring. It omits any reference to humanity as a whole and therefore implies less hope for it. Less hope for: Us. But what if, in some very significant cases, it is the more accurate commentary on current social trends and their impact on the average individual?
That’s the kind of question guerrilla decontextualization forces us to consider.
Another big one is: how comfortable do people really want to get with this now thoroughly-entrenched tendency? What would your life be like if someone followed you around and recorded your worst “oops” moments and then broadcast them on the local or national news just because they could? The issues revolve around experiences of truth and fairness but also address the practice of having choices forced upon you as opposed to freely making your own based on true-to-the-moment information instead of calculated misinformation.
11 August, 2012