With regards to our discussion last week, I found myself most intrigued by ideas of utopia and identity. In a highly individualistic society, we constantly reconstruct notions of utopia based on both community and ideology. By traditional definition, utopia is conceived as a communal place whereby a collective agreeance of perfection is achieved. While this statement can be argued, I believe its validity is reinforced by the human conditions of acceptance and meaning making. People cannot navigate a modern world without interaction, and thus even the most isolated of people participate in community. The creation of a personal utopia anchors identity, but we are constantly evolving this identity based off our surroundings. In thinking of our sphere of communication, I thought of the following layers:
· At the core, exists our identity where utopia is rooted.
· Surrounding this core is our physical community.
· Beyond our physical community is our digital community.
· From our digital community, there is a large surrounding layer of digital space. This space is incredibly chaotic and we rely on filters provided by our physical and digital communities to navigate this chaos.
· The final layer is the Other, which exists on the farthest reach of our spheres, and is where authentic empathy exists. It is also the most difficult layer to penetrate, as we must navigate all other layers effectively to reach this layer.
Going off this hypothesis, our notions of utopia are created primarily from the three layers closest to our identity. While changes in ideas of utopia most commonly occur from changes in these proximate layer, acceptance of the other signifies the most powerful change agent of our beliefs. It is also important to consider when there is a weaker the layer of the physical community, the digital layers compensate. Therefore, people who are more subject to vulnerabilities in identity can be more easily exploited.
Outrage also plays a pivotal role in these conceptions, as it helps to reaffirm our notions of utopia, and therefore identity. In an economy of attention, outrage can arguably be considered one of the most valuable currencies, as it elicits emotionally charged reactions that keep our attention (until we can no longer continue encoding outrage). That said, outrage could also be the biggest impediment to empathy and restrict our notions of utopia within the proximate spaces. With all of this in mind, it makes me wonder how reconstruction can effectively occur within radicalized individuals who have undergone some sort of compromised identity. Is radicalization something you carry forever, albeit at highly suppressed levels?