Friday, October 2, 2009

Echo chamber group-think beasties

For a long time now – a very long time mind you – we’ve been in a cave, a dark cave. Even though the cave has seemed to be growing, even though more of us have peopled it, it has stayed dark. Not your horror movie dark, not that pitch in which only primal fears hold sway, but an eerie mono-light dark, a snow-blinding dark.

Recently some have been leaving the cave, walking out into a richer light, blinking as prisoners leaving the long isolation of a dark cell. The new hurts the eyes, but the whiff of fresh air, the sense of leaving something stale behind, intoxicates.

In the cave discordance is evened out by the shrill dissonance it sets loose – shrillness is unwanted. All caves are echo chambers, and people prefer harmony to discordance. Dissent tends to be ugly from the point of view of hard-won consensus, the harmony set up by the lead singers upset by it, the upset an encouragement to re-establish harmony with renewed vigour. Those who have left, maybe out of a mixture of boredom and frustration, call back into the cave to come out and have a look, shout descriptions, early impressions deep into the old song as best they can. In time they will change the old tune and one day the old cave will be deserted -- but for a few crazies.

In time it will turn out that the old cave was left for a newer, larger cave, lit by a different light. It too will eventually be too small, too dark, and an exit will be found somewhere. And so on, and on.

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