Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Double Slit Experiment, Marshall McLuhan, and Social Media: Human Evolution in Action?

Most of us, and I thoroughly include myself on this, are completely in the dark about the insanity that is Quantum Mechanics. The entirety of my knowledge coming for easily accessible books on string theory like The Elegant Universe, or from oddly new-agey films like What the Bleep Do We Know? So when I revisited the double slit experiment last night, I was already slightly aware of the implications of it in a theoretical sense but i failed to see practical implications.

I'm jumping ahead of myself.

Instead of boring you to death with a written description of THE classic quantum physics experiment, I beg your indulgence with this video that explains it in cartoon form:

So this is what i correctly or maybe incorrectly gathered from that. Matter is capable of existing in two places at once, positing the potential of an "Alternate Reality" or a separate plane inhabited by the same particles.

I know. Mind = blown. It gets crazier.

If at a quantum and very basic level, matter can exist in multiple states, then all things can also theoretically possess the same qualities. Furthermore, that existence is affected by either an observer or measuring device, hinting at the possibility that our perception helps shape our reality.

Positing this, and I'm aware it is a huge and fanciful leap, reality may very well be a shared experience subject to our physical ability to comprehend the vastness of the universe. If this reality is an agreed upon or physically imposed limit, it stands to reason that reality may be influenced by People's agreement on a matter. Everyone agrees a fork is for eating, most people agree we should not kill our neighbors and so we do not. But does it change people?

For most of human existence only leaders, Kings, Queens, Popes and so on were subjected to public scrutiny. The masses would give them almost godlike attributes and in turn, they would exhibit those attributes themselves. One hardly needs to read many biographies to see the change that leaders undergo to become icons. Washington the blundering social climber becomes "Father of our country", Elizabeth I the bastard daughter becomes "Gloriana", and so forth.

Newspapers and Hollywood, would make the next round of subject of mass scrutiny and possible influence. How glamorous was Norma Jean until the public needed a Marilyn? When Britney had her kids with that doofus, did our shared repulsion affect and instigate that downward slide? I know people who feel a sense of shame and guilt for what happened to Anna Nicole, and were we not in a way responsible for it by encouraging her to live up to the preconceived mess ? Is the public scrutiny in a very physical sense potentially responsible for the outcome?

I fear the subject choices may detract from my wild jumps, so let's get back to something that is affecting us all.

Marshall McLuhan has famously stated that the "The Medium is the Message", that it doesn't matter precisely what we are saying, but rather how we are saying it. That our ability to communicate faster and at a more intimate level is forcing an evolutionary path where we are being forced to become more aware of the world around us and of each other.

McLuhan died before the internet, but his ideas are more true now than ever. As we have become more connected online, it has become increasingly obvious to many that there is a change in our behavior and how we interact. For better or worse our behavior is being projected at the very least to our immediate circles and at the most, to the world entire.

Does influencing the perception of you, eventually change who you are? Is the Internet, through connectivity, contextualizing everything and placing them in an agreed upon order? Are we evolving into a better ability to control what we perceive as real?

Deep stuff, but take the Arab Spring as an example. Can an oppressive government that doesn't control the flow of information exist is this day and age? There was a consensus among the people that this could no longer stand and suddenly, it didn't. How far will this go? Can we will ourselves into a better society? Is this the road to our ultimate destiny as a species?

Incredible times we live in.

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