I was just wondering, and I happen to own a blog, so…
Here’s another way to look beyond the smoke and mirrors: imagine an arena set up for a big fight. On one side, there’s a bunch of people. On the other side, a pile of money. The people, obviously, can win easily. They can do anything they like – even change what the money ‘means’ because after all, money is just an exchange tool invented by humans, to keep track of all their give-and-take-and-borrow-and-lend activity.
Yeah yeah yeah but we are in thrall to these billionaires, who’ve grabbed it all, right…
Yep. Having all that money gives those people way, way too much power. But why?
Have a listen to this, from Yanis Varoufakis
The world changed, around 20 years ago. It changed when it became clear that governments make and destroy money at will, and that international corporations – billionaire world – control government.
So, given that those billionaires are so roundly in control, why? Why do they spend vast amounts of time and money persuading us to get involved, and stay involved, with all that online stuff? It had been demonstrated that the soul and centre of Facebook, Twitter et al – their one great goal and objective – is not really to sell you anything in particular, or to convince you of anything in particular, it is that their power depends on their ability to get you to STAY ONLINE. Stay linked up, stay on their pages, thinking about all that stuff instead of…
When did you last switch off from all that for more than a day or so? When did you last focus all of your mind and your energy on your face-to-face, feet-on-the-earth world?
We know that the biggest fear of the internet giants is that people might switch off, leave the mobile phone to gather dust, and do something real. Let’s test this out. It’s much less scary than armed insurrection, and easy enough to back track if it doesn’t help.
There’s not even any need to bravely ‘jump off a cliff’ – online stuff is useful – especially if you are elderly or disabled, or live in an isolated place. You don’t have to dump everything – but you could gently, progressively increase your real world, house-and-street interactions and decrease the online ones. Maybe that half-hour you just spent having a ding dong about something on soc media could have been spent sitting at the window, or walking in the park, considering your options – or talking to someone down at the corner shop. You could even dust off your library card, and see if there’s still a real library you can visit. Keep it in mind, look out for what else you can switch off and work outside of, if you want to.
You’re reading this online because I wrote it on my blog but you know, I’ve taken a lot of my life – most of my politics, as much as possible of my social life, and an increasing amount of my business – back to face-to-face feet-on-the-ground world and it is much, much more fun. And it’s fun because I feel more effective. I reckon that is where power is growing. It’s where you can feel real, and make more satisfying, more useful connections.
If you don’t believe me, think about how Sharon Graham won the top job in Unite. While the other candidates – Steve Turner, Howard Beckett, Gerard Coyne, were all over social media, winning likes and shares like there was no tomorrow, she was out in the world, talking to members in factories and warehouses. The members voted for her. Since she took charge, Unite been winning battles for real people, out in the real world. It’s not really making much of a splash on social media, so you may not have noticed. She’s re-inventing the truth that ‘there is power in the union’. A real union is people with a shared interest, talking face-to-face, acting together, feet-on-the-earth.
Start thinking about how you can develop your face-to-face, feet-on-the-earth life. Spend more time developing your real-world friendships, alliances and networks. Start talking to more people, face-to-face about how we might save ourselves, and our world.
I’m off to meet some very political friends over coffee and biscuits now, and I won’t be carrying a smartphone. It may or may not help to save the world but either way, it’s warm, friendly and MUCH more fun. Try it. Do it more often, and then more, and keep thinking about what happens.