NEARing a Philosphy?
We aren't here because we are free; we're here because we are not free. - Agent Smith, " The Matrix: Reloaded"
Systems are everywhere, from the moment you wake to your alarm clock to the bell telling you it's lunchtime in school or work. Commuting to work, waiting in line for a bank transaction, even so much as greeting friends online. We are surrounded by paradigms instilled either by childhood role models or scholastic norms that carry into adulthood and office bureaucratic politics. Some - like table manners and common courtesy -, have timeless value. Others simply do not, and I could go on for decades about that topic yet shan't.
I excelled at some pillars of life - such as academia and home -, while keeping out various kinds of trouble in general. I grew into quite the voracious reader, to the point where I even ingest comics and novels in cinematic and auditory forms. My math was better than most, though it was not my friend enough to be a savant. I knew how to act, how not to; at the very least I acted well enough to evade the scorn of authority figures throughout my formative moments.
Other institutions … suffice it to say even when I attempted to "fake it til I make", it I would face plant. My failure to meet expectations to constantly excel at childhood and at life weren't lost on everyone, including me. I didn't know engines, I was weak and awkward, sports didn't really interest me, and I dreamed of going to school to learn music. The kind of son every working class Latin family dreams of… My mother was saintly in a lot of ways; her capacity to endure the criticisms of others, while letting me be me as much as her Roman Catholic mindset could allow was extraordinary. As time passed, even that was tested and strained in ways I wish not to enumerate.
It didn't really bother me that much at first. The older I became, as you can imagine, the talent I had for being to do what everyone said or wanted became nigh untenable. Some were conflicting and contradictory, others plainly against my personal point of view. Developing into my own person meant that my relatives and friends(what very little I could scrape) found themselves in time staring into someone they failed to recognize. My nomadic, reclusive behavior meant that the neighborhood children and adults who did see me had every reason to steer clear. I can't blame them; I imagine a tall, quiet person wearing all black all the time wasn't a welcoming sight near your home.
I'd become capable of tolerating the inability to homogenize over time. Like any muscle, I worked out the skill of being non-grata more and more. My books helped, comics entertained. All the while video games, music and other hobbies served as balms or outlets for what I couldn't contain in my head. When I finally gained internet access everything changed, and also remained static. In my youth I grew up wanting to be like John Connor from the Terminator, and things didn't change much into my teens and college years… Computers were cool and scary, information and skills were powerful. To me being a complete human was being powerful: physically and mentally.
There was one issue though… I also haven't mastered being a master in many ways that matter. None of the values I had translated to making money or friends really. I made some of both obviously or I'd be dead now; what little I could afford kept me alive, but it never grew in abundance to thrive. This was doubly true in Miami, where having both those resources appeared to be everything. The longer I was subjected to society (both digital and physical) the more I felt out of place everywhere. I'm not claiming to be special or exceptional, I'm attesting there was no where I truly belong with ease. With time and experience I realized maybe I'm cliche in this and I'm a Meme and dont know it; who doesn't feel that way after all, and I was just too introverted to know enough people to deduce that?
By the time I'd made sense of the fact that all these systems were built on things that didn't matter and could have possibly manipulated them into my favor, it was too late. I'd made my life on computers mostly, and in my room. These things naturally inclined me towards crypto and web3 in general I imagine. As the financial and employment sectors of the world have generally decided my station inside of it, I find myself inclining deeper outside their purview.
Am I here because of that? It's no secret web3 encourages and welcomes a spirit of individualism and optional anonymity, things I appreciate. Technology has doubtless made things interconnected; one can see countless examples of Big Brothers eye in London, where streets have cameras monitoring every corner. Traffic lights in Miami have red light functions to capture people driving by illegally, and every home has some kind of Ring based security lens. Your very own technology has betrayed you so unabashedly, that you ( like me ) no doubt make jokes of every device you possess "listening" to you. We know we can be watched, and in most cases resigned that we likely already are.
In the internet ironically,(and through that philosophy W3 as well) while we are very much on the grid in every way we feel a greater sense of autonomy or agency. I know I certainly do. With that comes hesitation, risk, excitement, wonder. As with most things, it requires a blend of positive and not so pleasant. Web3 also mimics life in that it allows for opportunity; it may take some getting used to, and to persons with certain inclinations and capabilities it may be a natural fit. I'm not certain which of them I am yet. I'm too new to things to comment on it all just yet. As I've spent my days digital over IRL, I suppose that I lean web3… but anyone can find a place here if you know what you want from it I think.
Am I here because I think I'm free or because it's the only place I could think I might be? I suppose I'll have to examine that further in the next installment…?