Which internet world are you on?
|“What was that Richard Bach person thinking?! SEAGULLS! Sheeeesh.”
Richard Bach, in his metaphysical classic Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah made the point that none of us live in the same world.
To most of us raised in the Newtonian/Cartesian world of America, this idea is counter-intuitive, and yet, voiced through Bach’s character Donald Shimoda, a modern-day messiah “born in the holy land of Indiana, raised in the mystical hills east of Fort Wayne,” it make perfect sense. Bach’s viewpoint character, the first person “I” named Richard Bach who may or may not be the real Richard Bach, a barn-storming free spirit living his life selling airplane rides and cooking bread in a pan over a campfire at the end of the day, lived in a much different world than nearly everyone reading the novel.
Bach, here, is driving at a metaphysical point, but on a more prosaic level, those of us who spend a large portion of our day on the internet may all be on the internet, but which internet?
No one’s internet world is exactly alike, but obviously there are points of commonality, or … well … no one would be connecting. I mention this because I used to “live” in a very different internet world prior to this one, and this article is in part an appreciation of where I’ve “landed.”
And, in part, an appreciation that I am no longer where I was.
“Hey! Don’t I Know You?”
I haven’t had this yet, but at some point I’m expecting someone to ask me “Hey, aren’t you the Daniel Brenton that used to write about UFOs?”
Yes, that was me.
I was writing about some of the same things I am now, but I was drawn toward the subject of UFOs as well, and found myself for a time one of the up and coming voices in the UFO “community,” such as it is, even to the point of being featured on an episode of the excellent radio show/podcast The Paracast.
Then, as of March of 2008, the nagging unease I had about my “career” came into focus, and I stopped blogging for quite some time. I even went so far as to remove the majority of my material from here, and took some pretty extensive steps to minimize the appearance of it elsewhere.
Because the audience wasn’t worth it.
This may seem like a harsh statement, but, at a high level, that says it.
And at a Low Level …
To be more specific, I need to state that I feel the UFO/UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon) issue is a real one, and it deserves proper study. I do not feel it has anything to do with extraterrestrials. Without going into a very long exposition here, I believe that the preponderance of this phenomenon is paranormal in nature, having to do with a larger expression of consciousness (human and beyond human), and given the right tools and scientific methodologies it can be understood.
Further, the continued fixation on the idea that this has something to do with people from other planets and “other people’s spaceships” has given ammunition to the scientific and military establishments to ridicule the subject and marginalize those who really want to understand it.
I don’t see this as a “conspiracy” as such, just personal ego and institutionalized ego.
With the ridicule factor has risen a marginalized subject, and a (forgive the expression) cultural ghetto perfectly suited to live in for individuals whom have chosen to be marginalized. I say this, because in an environment where the idea of something like peer review or even a court of public opinion is, well, alien, a person has free reign to espouse any crazy idea, unfettered by critical thought. The NASA Moon Landing Hoax, the “hidden reason” for Norway’s Doomsday Vault, Nazi UFO bases in the Antarctic, shapeshifting reptilian aliens that have become our elected leaders … all this crap is part of that environment.
Here, yes. But not there.
A Tough Crowd for Reality
Beyond this, I found this particular “woo-woo” crowd has a number of particularly unpleasant attributes.
An insistence that the subject cannot be understood by any established scientific or clinical methodologies, and overtly expressed hostility to any hint of any attempt to do so.
This, disappointingly, was a posture maintained by some of the “names” — even the younger ones, who should have known better — whose interests would no longer be served (read: would lose their Ufological careers of endlessly spinning ungrounded theory and speculation) if real explanations emerged.
- A tolerance, and even the encouragement, of anti-social behavior — in places, a schoolyard bully gang mentality.
- A refusal to hold members of the “community” to any kind of standard of civil behavior, even by established “authorities” in the scene.
Worse, the field is rife with outright charlatans who are not being called into accountability, which means, ultimately, there is an unbelievably gullible audience for these parasites to feed on.
Lastly, there are no leaders, no one who commands across-the-board respect, only egos, and the turf wars that go with them.
In that audience, Ego is King.
(Except for the first bullet above, it sounds a little like an election year.)
The one aspect that frustrated me the most was the lack of what I would call a “spiritual” element. It was rare to find individuals — even those who were witnesses or felt they were “experiencers” — who considered the phenomenon in relationship to their own lives. What did it mean to them? Why did this happen to them?
This failure to attempt to understand the phenomenon on a personal or holistic level pointed at the lack of a real desire to understand it.
The behavior I saw in the community was a number of sub-groups chasing the latest thing to get excited about. They find it, embrace it for a while, wring what pleasure or joy there was to be had from it, and when every last drop of entertainment value had been bled from it they would discard it in disgust and dash madly after the next big thing.
A Question from the Peanut Gallery
Having said all this, a fair question is why the hell did I work with it at all?
One part of the answer is that it took some time for me to see how bad the community really was. The other side of it is that I am convinced there there is a genuine phenomenon to be understood.
Further, I feel strongly that, once understood, the phenomenon will tell us more about what we are, in relationship to the greater consciousness of our existence.
Put yourself in my shoes. Wouldn’t you want to give it a shot?
There are some groups, such as NARCAP (the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena), which work as far away from the UFO community as humanly possible to try to pin the phenomenon down and wrestle some answers out of it.
Which, in my opinion, will be where any real answers happen — as far away from the UFO community as humanly possible. That, or to move the subject into the mainstream, where the “woo woo” crowd and the parasites that feed on them would have to find some other marginalized topic to lose themselves in.
A criticism? No, more of a lament, really. The people who would hear it, such as the hosts of The Paracast, are fighting the good fight against this insanity, and holding the feet to the fire of those whose lack of credibility becomes apparent. (For those who would like an objective take on The Paracast, try this one by The Amateur Scientist.)
Beyond these folks, there are damned few in the field that really care about the integrity of it. The folks who the continue thankless task of fighting the good fight in that arena are few and far between, and I tend to feel that no matter how many battles they win, the greater war will be lost.
The Light is Better
Writers write, and I couldn’t stay away from blogging.
I have started over in building an audience, this time in the Personal Development/ alternate spirituality area.
(I hesitate to use the phrase “New Age,” and this would be an easy categorization, but a part of this is another marginalized crowd like the one I just left.)
(C’mon. Just admit it.)
My early impression of this audience is that it is a much higher calibre crowd. (And, no, I’m not brown-nosing.) The concept of looking at our lives in the context of our spirituality is not only welcome here, but to some extent familiar territory.
And talking about gratitude isn’t met with the online equivalent of a blank stare.
And the opportunities to work with other people toward a mutually beneficial end?
Oh. My. God.
I joke about being a curmudgeon, but I am a reforming curmudgeon, someone who is beginning to listen to his heart and actually consider that not only there is hope for this world, but that I might be able to help encourage that hope.
This is the arena to do just that, among people who want to do the same, and with an audience that appreciates it.
There is a Persian folk character named Nasruddin, around whom was written dozens of stories. One story that you’ve probably heard a version of is this: one day Nasruddin is crouching on all fours under a street lamp, looking for something. His friends comes across him and one of them says, “Nasruddin! What are you looking for?”
“I lost the key to my cellar,” he says.
So they start helping him look and come up with nothing. Finally one of them asks: “Are you sure you lost it here?”
Nasruddin replies, “No, actually I lost it somewhere in the house.”
“So why were you looking out here?!”
Naturally, Nasruddin answers: “Because there’s better light here.”
This is why I’m here, too. The light is better.
Copyright © 2009, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.