Collective Consciousness – Instantaneous Evolution
– Inspired from communications in the Waking Life – Richard Linklater
(Disclaimer : In this article, I use the words ‘consciousness’ and ‘evolution’ loosely as inspired from the dialogue in the movie)
The movie has two sections of discussions
1) Collective Consciousness – The concept that intuition and choices influenced by instinct are drawn from this conceptual collective consciousness that exists in society. A decision I make is based on what most people in society might make. It is an indirect influence though. The experiment that the movie talks about which makes this apparent is the crossword puzzle experiment. A group of people were asked to solve a crossword puzzle and some statistics were observed from their performance. The next day the daily crossword puzzle was released and kept from this group. They were only allowed to attempt it the day after, when the whole world (or partial world that reads daily crossword puzzles) had already seen the answers. This smaller group while attempting the puzzle statistically did much better than their first experiment results. This shows that they had a sub conscious influence that drew from this collective knowledge, this collective consciousness. (I wasn’t able to find this study, so perhaps it is a fictional creation of the director, but still interesting enough to explore)
2) Instantaneous Evolution – This concept talks about the telescopic nature of evolution. Some initial evidence of evolution were seen when apes took several 100,000’s of years to start waking on their feet, make their vertebrates vertical instead of horizontal. The next bit of evolution like discovery of tools (in the stone age) by Neanderthals probably took a much shorter time – 1000 years. Discovery of metals, electricity, the Internet all progressively got shorter and shorter. Today we see proof of this telescopic nature of evolution in the influence that technology has on the masses in just a matter of weeks of being conceived. This type of telescopic evolution will lead to man constantly evolving. A change in the definition of evolution which was earlier fueled by a feedback of choices and consequences. (A bad choice that led to a consequence led to the particular trait becoming recessive). This will start happening at a much faster level, leading to the evolution of a new type of human. One that evolves continuously in time..
New Thoughts on both these topics.
The telescopic nature of evolution is more apparent today with a game like flappy birds that has permeated all cultures, continents and ages into playing it in just a matter of days of being released. This leads us to understand that the concept of evolution has changed. Earlier man, as an individual, made choices and had a consciousness (influenced both by his personality and the collective consciousness). These choices had consequences that led to the stage of evolution. (The progress of one particular science, technology or idea rather than the other recessive one). But this concept of choices and collective consciousness is now different for a more instantaneous way of evolution.
The collective consciousness defined in the crossword puzzle experiment is now evolved. Earlier man contributed to this collective consciousness with his interactions with the society. In the new paradigm of generation X, our interaction with society has changed. In the older paradigm, when person A traveled or had a life changing or miraculous experience, he would communicate it with his group of friends directly or indirectly. And this group of knowledge would pass by word of mouth or other modes of communication. Also I say, directly and indirectly because indirect communication was also predominant. What I mean by that is, lets say person A traveled to a new country of tribes. He would speak about his knowledge of tribal people and their different or similar ways of life directly to his friends. But he could also indirectly communicate about just using his knowledge to influence his choices in his group of friends. He could be more willing to accept a different item of food or culture and show that his influence to the tribes of the country he visited have changed his personality, and this is being indirectly communicated within his group. This direct or indirect communication is his contribution to the collective discussion of ideas and therefore the collective consciousness.
But today our communication is different. We communicate on social media with pictures and tweets and statuses with hashtags and labels. This communication is a lot more direct because it feeds on our need to communicate. Man would communicate to his group directly or indirectly because he had a unique individual contribution to the group, to the discussion. He could see this by the people he was able to influence within his group or even inspire or oppose him. That was his contribution to the collective discussion. Man was motivated to communicate in order to see the presence of his existence by observing the influence of his contribution on the collective discussion. But in todays paradigm of communication, Man gets his dopamine shots, his motivation from a more direct validation, a number of likes or retweets or reshares. And Man is not just the contributor, he is also the listener. He is also liking and retweeting and resharing other people’s communications. But this communications is no longer indirect. Only the direct communication has survived in this paradigm. A visit to the tribal people of country is now broken down by tags like #travel #tribes #newLands and many other tailor-made labels that make it easier to disseminate information and also for man to consume. Since consumption is important for man. Man knows that in order to observe his existence in the collective discussion he needs to get likes and shares and he is also sub consciously liking and sharing other tags and posts in order for the collective to better reflect his presence as an individual, both by disseminating more tailor made information to the individual and by presenting his posts to the right group of people. This indirect communication means that if person A doesn’t talk about his visit to the tribes of the new country, it is fiction. Just as much as a mad man dreaming up an experience. Sure it influences his choices but in this paradigm of communication only his direct communications of telling people he had traveled, sharing pictures validates the experience.
This leads us to make a different understanding of the collective consciousness. Instead of being an intangible collective consciousness, this can now be thought of as a bigger consciousness that is quiet tangible. It is this platform and database of knowledge on which out individual interactions exist. The databases at google, amazon, facebook, twitter are the big consciousness. We exist within these collective discussions and our presence and influence is validated within this consciousness. Now we must not be scared that this means, we are being controlled by an algorithm. Its instead a different idea. Man always existed within a push and pull of individual and society. Being an individual was important and also being part of a society. Influencing a society by your individuality was the important motivator for the alpha man and fitting in and being accepted by the society prototype of an individual was the motivator for the beta man. In this paradigm of a bigger consciousness that is a database my choices as an individual only affect the small group of people that I directly influence, the 500 people that follow me, the 1000 friends on facebook etc. And the collective decisions of the bigger consciousness are a result of these smaller groups of consciousness that lead to some ideas trending, being advertised as popular or being statistically popular. Because each group is like a big interconnected network of communication that eventually leads to information being disseminated and rising to the top in a pyramid scheme of deletions of ideas. The most popular prevails and is self propagated as trending because of a positive feedback loop of being visible.
This means that I as an individual draw my set of choices and beliefs from my personality and this, new bigger consciousness. When someone dies, I feel more strongly about their death based on the how collective consciousness feels irrespective of whether this deceased person directly influenced my life or not. A famous musician dies and I instantly feel sad because the collective consciousness feels sad, because the musician influenced the group as a whole., despite me having never listened to his songs. This has led to a new form of evolution of a human. A human more closely connected to the bigger consciousness. So as the telescopic nature of evolution leads us to become more and more instantly connected to the bigger consciousness our physical and mental processes will change. A new generation kid is probably much better at understanding social media and the ways of the pyramid scheme of the trending ideas much better. His brain will evolve to have a much stronger connection to the collective consciousness. Sure as evolution has traits surviving and dying some forms of communications, some ideas will die faster than the others. This doesnt mean that one majority idea will prevail. Just like random mutations are still seen in humans, some negative/bad ideas as labeled by the evolution shall still survive and even flourish in smaller circles. But Man, will be motivated to be a bigger part of the consciousness. A tub of water with two drops of food coloring white and red will end up spreading to its neighbors making a bigger circle of white and red until they meet and push against each other in a surface tension war, until the whole tub either becomes a stable equilibrium of both colors or an unstable equilibrium both ready to burst into a united pink color when the tub is shaken by an external war like force. Now sure the individual particles might still to choose to identify as red, white or even abstain from belonging, but the collective consciousness understands this tub as being a pink tub. It shall use this information along with its knowledge of individual particles and their choice of identity to disseminate information and services.