The Internet: A World Without Boundaries

There was a time when we lived in a world without borders. In an age before the United Nations, free trade zones or countries. In those dark ages way back when, people lived in villages and often nomadic tribes. There was no clear borders and for mostly people moved freely.

World Without BoundariesToday you may think we live in a world with clear borders; you may think when border police capture illegal immigrants and take them to task for coming into “our” country is the right thing. But it doesn’t matter because the Internet makes all borders, all countries meaningless.

By extension the Internet through smartphones removes personal boundaries. At this stage in the technology revolution you have an unprecedented increase in wireless communication. At any given time there are thousands if not millions of signals passing through your room whether you want to allow them or not.

This is not so much about privacy as it is about safeguarding your personal space – between you and other – your individuality. When I studied body language with my salsa teacher, it became clear to me that how we control our personal space, forms our identity. Of course there are cultures where you do not care about this, and others who are obsessed about it. They are extremes.

Enter the post-Bluetooth world of Smartphones, the always-on generation. You live in a world without boundaries because you can have whatever you want, whenever you want. You may not always discern the consequences of this freedom.

Freedom to do whatever you want leads to experimentation. Children do this from a young ages when they try to find the limits of the world as they know it. They put things into their mouths, hit objects against the floor or table, and play with unlimited curiosity.

So in a recent news article about a teacher who was sexting with students in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, I posted this comment, “Where there are no boundaries, there are no limits. Remember this parents!

After 10 years of research I found most parents do not set boundaries on how they children use social media or smartphones. They may not do this for various reasons like not understanding the technology, or being preoccupied with their own escape into cyberspace.

It all starts with boundaries. Parents who set clear boundaries help to make the world a better place. Fathers usually reinforce boundaries, both emotionally and physically. Dr Warren Farrell first got my attention in his book “Father and Child Reunion” on this matter of boundaries in children.

A world without boundaries is not the panacea of the 21st century. It may turn out to be your Achilles’ heal. Limits are not constraints in the sense of preventing you from doing what you want. Instead it helps your children develop step by step. It also helps you to learn how to say “no!” when it’s required.


Have You Been Sold A Lie? No.

Recently I told someone on Twitter lying is more fun than telling the truth. This was after listing to Jon Rappoport talk about one of his imagination exercises. They are meant to stimulate your imagination through story telling.

In these imagination exercises you get together with a group of people and you tell each other outrageous lies. All this stimulates the imagination to Exit the Matrix. I am confident that lying has been given a terribly bad name simply because it’s equated with deception. Deception is one of those most-human of things we do. Remember the Art of War, or the Art of Seduction?

Deception can become a preoccupation for a con man, also known as a confidence man or confident man. That is a man who is so confident in his lies that you believe what he sold you it. At this point I beg to differ, you have not been sold a lie.

When you think about being sold a lie, you’re attempting to push the blame onto another person for your choices. Have you been sold a lie? No, but maybe you have bought a lie.

More often than not you have lied to yourself. This is indeed a form of self-deception. You’ve made a choice, taken a decision, and it’s not had the desired outcome. What’s maybe the easiest thing to do? It is to claim you’ve been deceived, that you have been sold a lie like the promises of politicians.

So in this age of big brother government and lying politicians it’s very easy to seek a scape goat. No my friend, you’ve bought into the lie. You believed the politician, the government, the news reports, the media, the advertising, lock, stock and barrel.

What is this lie they tell you? The promise of a better tomorrow as Adam Curtis eloquently shows in the Power of Nightmares. Like the Father we never had who takes care of everything. He takes care of you from your happiness to your home. Making law after law that compels you do be happy, to be content, to be complacent and compliant really.

Whenever you think you’ve got it, you’ve figured out who’s behind the curtain pulling your strings. Step back, and try your best to clear your thinking of preconditioned responses. Maybe you have bought a lie instead of being sold a lie.

It’s easier to change yourself than to change the world. Have you been sold a lie? Think again.


Falling In Love With Artificial Intelligence

“I don’t think we think unless it is about me.” – Kurt Cobain

More than twenty years ago I wrote my first few lines of computer code using a language called BASIC. At university I studied Computer Science. After few years working in the IT industry, I did not enjoy working began exploring potential common grounds between psychology and technology.

Between 2004 and 2006 I conducted research surveys about online dating behaviour and this laid the foundation for the work I have been doing ever since. My own love affair with technology included those whom I hate to love (Web), as well as those whom I love to hate (Microsoft Windows) and those whom I hate unenthusiastically.

In time, my work brought me to the conclusion that we have become obsessed with ourselves in a way I had never imagined would be possible. Smartphones and “selfies” are now de rigueur all over the world from Cape Town to China. The “smart” in smartphones implies the early stages of artificial intelligence (AI) because the devices remember, learn and anticipate our behaviour. Siri on iPhone is the first attempt at AI for the masses.

What is the obsession with ourselves that drives us? What could be the drive that stimulates the increasing role of technology in our self-identity? We no longer look into the mirror to see our reflection, we look into our screens for validation: “iThink therefore iAm”

With the rise of the Internet we are falling in love with ourselves mediated through cyberspace. The machines we have created, the smartphones, the “androids”, are the real plug-in drug not television because they respond to our whims. Whereas television streams images into your mind, with your smartphones, you stream your life to the world like The Truman Show.

Joaquin Phoenix in movie Her (2013)After watching the movie Her (2013), I disagree with most reviews that it’s an exploration of a fundamental question “what is love?” We may as well ask are you in-love with with your favourite celebrity? This is fantasy, maybe even obsession, as in most cases we will never meet them.

We do not fall in love with another person, only with how they make us feel. We don’t even need to be with the them to fall in love – in fact it works better when we’re not. Put another way, we fall in love when we are remembering or imagining how they make us feel about ourselves. It’s always about the reflection principles.

Now, when we’re lonely it’s probably because we don’t like what we see in the reflection.

Someone once referred to falling in-love as the ultimate form of self-hypnosis. We have all become addicted to our emotions. The emotions is what gives us the experience, the stimulus to form our responses accordingly. It’s always about us, not them, at the deepest levels. It’s not a stretch say this is the road to narcissism.

There is a plethora of self-help literature that teaches you to love yourself first. I relied on this extensively during my life coaching sessions. My starting point was always: how can we expect other people to love us if we do not love ourselves first?

AI implies a computer system, which learns from us about us, and about its environment. It has been portrayed as dangerous or negative in films series like “The Terminator” and “The Matrix” movies. But now we’re seeing a change in direction to a more personal experience with AI after Simone (Al Pacino) and Her (2013).

In sadness, there is loss, there is loneliness but never is there narcissism as we’ve come to know it on social media. Selfies – photos people take by themselves, of themselves – are encouraged. The experience is singular, alone, by yourself and for yourself. The audience, your followers and fans are the key to your validation, only when they click LIKE on your experiences, does it seem to become real.

So modern experience is limited and almost invalid until they are validated by others. This may be why it’s possible to fall in love with AI, because of the built-in validation or reflection. The feedback about yourself and who you are, and that you exist, maybe that you matter after all. So with AI, a human being is no longer needed to validate us.

Somewhere in the past it was acceptable, even taught that we don’t need anyone else to validate our existence. AI promises the perfect response to our stimulus. Allow me to conclude with a common Chinese saying adapted for AI, “Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it and it may be more what you asked for.”