Things are moving along, but these are indeed strange times. Even very basic efforts to communicate the totality of what is occurring in the world seem to be failing. A comprehensive look at where we are is nearly impossible. Taking the time to write one would create a scenario where a time capsule would exist of that movement, but enough time would have passed that it would no longer be a comprehensive snapshot of the moment. The rate of change is faster than our ability to report and consume it. Within that argument is a very interesting situation. Newspapers are designed to provide an ongoing stream of events. A really good newsroom and editors can craft that stream of events into an ongoing narrative that the readership would share. Generally the way news is commonly consumed the curated part of the narrative is typically lost to the speed of reporting the event. Something worth talking about has to happen and words are written. That is very different from writing a weblog post. Engaging in the act of journaling and writing thoughts is very different than reporting the news. I write to think about the world around me and to help structure and refine ideas. None of that is about explaining when events happen to anyone.
Really the only event that I tend to write about is the intersection of technology and modernity. Given the ongoing nature of that event and how long it has taken for technology to intersect with modernity it is not really something that a newspaper would cover. That is probably the same set of reasons why common news reporting does not wrestle with the nature of civil society and the complex breakdown of the social fabric that normally brings people together. Underlying frameworks and things that are highly complex tend to be categorized as something other than events. Even very basic things tend to receive a degree of coverage that explains only the occurrence not the underlying reasons why that occurrence came to be or what is swirling just under the surface of the event being reported. My thoughts today seem to be very focused on how things are being communicated within society. Within this time of pandemic a lot of things are at the forefront of the public mind and some of them are very powerful in terms of evaluating history and the context of things. A lot of them are about people trying to figure out what to do and what path to take forward. None of that internal and ongoing public debate centers around the intersection of technology and modernity. The debate both internal and external seems to be more about modernity than technology.
Right now is a moment in our history where the very nature of modernity stands in review at the forefront of the public mind. Questions abound about what modernity has created for society. A certain contemporaneousness exists between the internal and external debates that are ongoing. Characterizing the entire debate as being at the forefront of the public mind seems accurate. Understanding that a part of that debate is being reserved from the public conversation is what probably sparked this entire page of prose. Writing a sweeping criticism of modernity from the ongoing news coverage would be missing something. Inherent within that last sentence is the part of the argument being reserved and that is what I’m curious about. My argument would be that it is not about fashionableness or anything near the popular culture elements of modernity. Instead, I would argue that the debate both on the surface and in the reserved part is really about civility and the nature of how we work together within civil society. Those are very fundamental questions about the foundation of what happens within our constitutional republic beyond government. They are very foundational questions about how the people who interact with civil society interact with each other. It is a question about how even very basic things work together to create civility or discord.