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Tag Archives: multiculturalism

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN TODAY: Summarizing the Issues

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As globalized members of the internet community, we have  lost touch with the bio-rhythms of our unique locations.  We follow global fashions and share global concerns. By implication, we have lost touch with our immediate communities, our neighbourhoods, our streets and lanes.

Our issues may  no longer be immediate and local. We might raise funds for Somalian children—which I cannot argue that it is not a worthy enough cause.  The implication of our de-localized concerns is that we have also lost the sense of shared culture that comes with the feeling of belonging to a particular, specific and a locationally-defined community, which by definition is rooted in tradition, religion and inheritances.

To go back to one of the one of my earlier arguments, now more than ever culture can no longer be defined as a shared inheritance. Culture has moved to the personal sphere.

And, don’t these new practices of culture demand a redefinition of culture, and by implication also of multiculturalism?

Thus, to summarize the argument thus far:

Thesis 1: Humanism is bigger than culturalism

Thesis 2: Technology has redefined our social interactions and our sense of community

Thesis 3: Identity is no longer rooted in culture, community and religion. This is what it means to be a technobot

Thesis 4: Consequently historical issues have lost relevance as also have historical debates about multiculturalism.

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THE CULTURE OF DISTRACTION: THERE IS TOO MUCH, TOO INTERESTING OUT THERE

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The short term, the temporary, the unsustained, the ephemeral and the fad define  the cultures of our times.

It is not our faults—it is the fault of our ages! Things are changing too fast and even 87 year old grandmothers have to learn to facebook. Keeping up with changing technology takes up too much time. Switching on the TV can be a relearning process every few months—unless you are a 5-year old—in that case you are born with a “reboot/update/relearn/” mental button.

To cope up with this, we as a species are responding with short attention spans.

Nothing can interest us for too long. We are no longer capable of reading a long passage. Listen to music or watch –short attention span—it is the immensity of the range of things that can distract us.

Never has the Now been so important as today. Is it surprising that tradition cultures are loosing their role in out lives? How much of our times everyday—10%, 5% or less do we spend on practices/ activities that we have inherited from our ancestors?

Is it surprising that YouTube with its new minutes of videos is the perfect cultural medium for us? Guess how many people have seen Charlie Bit My Finger on YouTube?

Or Psy’s Gangnam style—that supreme example of random popularity based on curiosity about how supremely bad/good is bad style + confidence that comes with total lack of self-evaluation.

I admit it is so bad that it is extremely good—just like Sarah Jessica Parker, that classic example of beauty that is extremely ugly and ugliness that is extremely beautiful.  These are categories all by themselves and a lesson.

A conclusion about the culture of our times:  We cannot handle the constant flow of brilliance, smartness, merit and genius. So, the best way to be really good is to be really bad.

Google is the new God of the TechnoBots

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The other day, a church tried to lure in believers by putting up on its notice board the statement, “Google does not have all the answers.” It got me thinking, God or Google, who answers questions better?

Ask Google something, and the search field never comes up empty. The answer might be as intelligent or ridiculous as the question is, but that is beside the point. If Google says the Answer to the Ultimate Question is not 42(as we found in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe) but 24, or 0, who is to argue with any finality? Is it not enough that there is always an answer in Google?

Ask God a question and all we have silence.  And since we are in desperate need for answers, and loosing patience we “look” back into our “souls”, look at intermediaries, signs and symbols, pundits and popes, and hit upon an answer. More likely they merely fulfill our emotional needs.

Considering that both Google and God give us the answers in our own images—as the question so the answer—do we need to quibble?

Can we just go ahead and declare, that today, as throughout human history, we are inventing a new god and are busily building a new religion around it? Google is the new god of the humanals and internet our new religion.

The best thing about this new god and religion is that we no longer to fight wars to prove that this one is better than any other religion.  After all, the whole world is an ardent believer of Google.

The Cultural Minefield

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One of the paradoxes of Multiculturalism is that it has to take a very limited and reductive defintion of culture. A framework for the interrelationship between cultures can be theorized only if we pretend an intra-cultural structure does not exist.
An unacknowledged fact is that we live in contradictions–we smoothly transit through cultural conflicts when we shift roles from the social, professional to familial and further into personal.
The more roles we have in life, the more the cultural minefields we have to negotiate.
We cannot claim any one mono-culture for our hyphenated selves.