Monday, April 12, 2010

Creating False Value: The Mark of Emptiness?

Mad Dogs and Solipsisms
Acrylic on Canvas, c 2009 Lynda Lehmann

This is not a "feel good" post. So if you are depressed today, wait to read it until you're feeling better, or skip it. I don't want to bring anybody down.

I have to say that in all the fascinating options for meeting people, communicating and interacting that are available to us on the web, we've maybe come to an impasse. When everybody is trying desperately to be seen, or heard, or branded, and to sell themselves as a CEO, SEO or expert in multiple facets of every kind of business, the frenzy overpowers any potential for quality or meaning. We're hearing too much about actions and reactions to and from our social networking sites on mainstream newscasts these days, leaving less time to report critical news from around the world. We proudly report numbers, in our love for having amassed vast quantities of essentially anonymous and dis-interested "followers." What does this prove? Are we in kindergarten? Enough is enough, already. Let's talk.

This is only my opinion. Just as we have too many TV channels to choose from, and nine out of ten of them offer trash: the cheapest, basest forms of titillation and over-stimulation in the name of entertainment--however violent or wanton and forever dwelling on the darkest depths of the human soul--we are inundated with sites promising us the best exposure and experience for this and that. I've been drawn to them as much as anybody else, I'm ashamed to admit. Where is our intellectual perspective?

Well, aside from becoming virtual Cyborgs (no pun intended) in our over-reliance on artificial intelligence, we are becoming even more distant from the ability to maintain internalized systems of moral values, taking it by rote instead, in heaping doses, from our respective churches, synagogues and morality gurus. You can't claim to be "religious" if you're a hater (of all who differ from you in their choices) or if you've forgotten the sounds of the human voice, or the cues of lowered eyes, a chuckle, or a facial tic. Or the aroma of blossoms in spring....

Come forward, people, and let's share our humanity instead of our projected, pre-packaged slick personas, fashioned in the need to point people toward our product or creed. Let's communicate honestly and openly about real issues, instead of using social media for their opiate value. Let's be real and forget about presenting ourselves as gurus and experts and financial whizzes, and just talk....

I had to vent tonight. These questions have been on my mind for awhile, and I think they might be questions worth pursuing. Is it because we are jaded by a cultural mindset that proclaims in so many various ways that "More is better?" Are we becoming more neurotic and compulsive in our need to connect, yet somehow defeating our need by being spread so thin? How do you feel about the effect social networking has had on you and the people you know? Do you think our need to create "false value" to sell ourselves, reflects personal insecurity and cultural and economic decline?

As with everything, balance and judgment are requisite. Any behavior, unchecked, can become pathological. For both individuals and societies. If you and your life are not really being enhanced by the quality of your interactions on the web, don't be afraid to back off! Sit down and have a good talk with yourself, for starters. And don't forget that YOU are your best friend!

All images and text c Lynda Lehmann. If you would like to view more of my art or make a purchase, please visit Lynda Lehmann Painting and Photography
or my gallery at Imagekind, where you can choose from several sizes and paper types or buy my prints plain or matted and framed.


  1. I so hear this. So often on various sites people proudly proclaim that they're "addicted" to the site. To me it's kind of pathetic. I couldn't imagine sitting at my computer for extended periods of time. In Canada I lived w/o TV for 9 years. It was wonderful. If I could get my husband "off" football we wouldn't have one now (but that's not going to happen, unfortunately.)
    And please do know that I don't come here to play "comment tag." I don't expect reciprocation. I come because I enjoy your images & your words, nothing more. I just hope that perhaps someday we can enjoy a coffee out on the beach somewhere (north shore, south shore, whatever!)

  2. I really like the brush strokes and the colors of this swirly artwork. Nice abstract style in this one. I'm not really into abstract, but this one sells for me.

  3. Lana - I feel that I KNOW that about you. In as far as I know you, I experience you as a thinking and authentic person, not to be swayed by group preference or fad. I value your intelligence as well as your creativeness and sensitivity to nature.

    I DO sit at my PC for long hours, but mostly because I process and upload many photos. Or for the purpose of blogging. But I tend to avoid what I see as superficial or meaningless, or feeding the ILLUSION of being busy, secure, and well-connected. That is not to say that I don't value the people I meet online. I very much do!

    I think the whole world needs to turn off their media for a week and go out into the woods to meditate! Listen to their hearts....

    One day we will take a long beach walk together--and bring our cameras. :)

  4. i'm learning to ignore all that stuff and using the internet as ways to connect to people that i haven't/can't in real life. i know few artists in this town i'm in and my online community has been invaluable. they buy art from me, share with me we support each other in ways that are just as real were they here in human form minus the hugs.
    i'm feeling extremely positive today so i'm going to be the devils advocate and say better they are home staring at their computers than wasting gas running around and clogging up space. let them do what they do, they will figure it out or not. i can't worry about THEM. i kind of have a homeopathic cures like. sometimes its good to zone out and watch tons of tv or whatever...i dont even have a tv right now. i never check in with the news online or in real life. i'm fairly self absorbed with just surviving so i'm not easily distracted.
    i didn't take this as a negative post. sometimes all that outside stuff gets to you if you let it. all in all i'm having better experiences now than ever in my life, it has nothing to do with what is out there rather, what is in ME.

  5. Paula - I agree that using the net to interact and to sell is a tremendous asset. My point was more about the superficiality of some of the dedicated social networking sites, and peoples' addictions to such.

    I've met some wonderful people on the net, from all over the world, who have enriched my life, are already etched in my memory, and whom I would not hesitate to meet up with.

    That being said, I'm in my own struggle to find the right balance between family, my other responsibilities, health and homemaking concerns, making art, blogging, etc.

    I'm glad you're feeling positive and fulfilled and that the net is a positive force in your life, as it is with mine. And you're so right that how we feel comes from WITHIN us, not so much from influences outside our selves.

    Great to see ya, Paula!

  6. Bonnie - Thanks for stopping by!

    I think it's good sometimes to just stop everything, sit down, and think about where we're going and which forces we want to suck us in. And so I will have to balance my pondering with my activity!

  7. Lynda:

    I tell you what, the wife of a dear friend of mine has just been diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer. It's inoperable and she will die soon. That's real. All the rest of this stuff is just a bit of altered reality.

    Happy trails.

  8. Swubird - I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's wife. I had a dear neighbor die of stomach cancer, and cancer is NEVER pretty.

    I've had breast cancer myself, so I know the horror of the diagnosis, although mine is not likely to be terminal--at least, not imminently.

    But I feel for you and your friend, and his wife. We can only hope that she can find some comfort in the presence of those who love her, and that he too, will heal in time.

    We are all so vulnerable.... and you're right: the rest of this stuff is just fluff.

  9. I came to the same conclusion a few months go and I vented on my blog. Quitting Facebook and Entrecard was my first step to finding true dialogue with readers of my blog. Blog catalog is next if the inane comments and strange friend request don't stop. My friends list is now composed of a few readers, like yourself, that are interested in communication and finding meaningful connections.

  10. Ronald - I'm not sure that the average person of today aspires to making any kind of "meaning." "Meaning" is out of vogue, as are the concepts of virtue, honesty, and altruism, and the need now, seems to be only an appetite for power. I would say "hunger," but hunger implies something more deep and compelling and real, than a self-indulgent need to fill the ego void with perceived power.

    Finding meaning and meaningful dialogue is to me, an essential part of being human. But the human condition sadly, is such that the scramble for survival, nowadays, has only an outward focus. Many people have not yet learned that they generate and are the matrix of their own experience. If they come to the Blogosphere with only a raging need for attention or affirmation without developing their inner resources, they are depriving themselves of their own spiritual and intellectual growth. And they deprive more earnest bloggers of meaningful exchange.

  11. good morning Lynda~ powerful post. i know i'm guilty of using a few, maybe many, networks but i simply enjoy sharing my day with like minded people, or my love of nature. i do try to get out every weekend so i'm not bound to the computer 24/ 7 and i make it a point to not use my cell phone for making connections to the internet while i'm gone. that's my family time. i always try to comment on those people's sites who visit my blog or other networks i'm with to make a personal connection with them. i've enjoyed meeting those whom i wouldn't have otherwise had the opportunity to meet. i couldn't trade that for the world. but, i also understand there are other responsibilities that take up our day and i do struggle with balancing those with my blogging time, sigh. maybe someday our paths will meet in real time and we can take a nature walk or two ourselves and take pictures of the life swarming around us. have a great day.

  12. Naquillity - I like sharing in these networks, too, and learning from people; don't get me wrong on that. But I'm concerned that we're losing focus on important issues and events, and maybe on something in ourselves, by being spread too thin. Although I guess that anyone who gets truly "addicted" to social media would do that with something else, anyway, in the absence of all our new options for networking.

    I too, like sharing with like-minded people and I've met lots of folks in cyberspace whom I'd like to meet in real time. If I live long enough, I'll get to meet and have lunch or a camera walk with my blogging and artist friends!

    Too bad you live so far away... Maybe one day. :)


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