Chief has been a podcaster for some time now; mostly listening to his favourite sport or food and drink categories and I’ve been rather left behind. Recently though I’ve been searching for alternatives to Australia’s poor radio selection (sorry Australia, I’m a BBC kinda gal)
just for my short journey to and from work and I decided to look into some podcasts that would interest me.
My first selection was from BBC Radio 2 (of course), Jeremy Vines’ Being Human, where various well known personalities offer their interpretation of what makes us human whilst reflecting on their own life at the same time. Each guest starts by reading an essay.
I’ve gone way back in time to 2014 which is positively archive material in this day and age, to Ruby Wax in September of that year; I found her essay to be really thought provoking and it made me stop and reflect on just how manic it’s all become.
“To be human is not in fashion these days. Successful people like to think of themselves as an extension of their digital hardware, that they are the software like the Wizard of Oz was behind the curtain, playing God. There we are alone in the darkness on a constant drip feed of information either giving it or getting it. Nothing functions unless our fingers are clicking away giving our Facebook or Twitter followers a snippet of our lives or de-friending those we oppose. We’re so pumped on this digital Viagra we feel if we go off line for a split nanosecond, the world will grind to a halt. The whole planet is waiting for us to answer the next email and so we spend our lives returning them only to get another one and another one like those horror films where the plants won’t stop growing or the zombies won’t stop coming. We made machines faster and faster with bytes beyond our dreams so we’d have spare time. Now we spend our lives keeping up with the machines. We wouldn’t know what ‘spare’ was if it hit us in the head. It’s as ridiculous as saying you need spare time as saying you need spare oxygen.
And the less spare time you have the higher your social rating. Very few people will answer the question, “Are you busy?” With, “No.” It would take a very brave person to admit they have an open slot in their calendar. Busy people would move away as if you had an infectious disease, faster than if you had Ebola. In this culture you’re supposed to say, “Am I busy, are you kidding? I’m so busy I’ve had three heart attacks and I’m life support.” Just watch how successful and popular you’ll get if you have no time for anything or anyone.
It’s obvious our next step in evolution is that we become a cyborg where gradually our flesh will be replaced by silicon chips and steel pincers for fingers but hundreds of them to do all the multi-tasking we’ll be forced to do. Then we’ll be perfect, no physical or mental flaws, only a shiny silver carcass that says, ‘Apple’ where our hearts used to be.
But for now we’re just in the early stages of foreplay with our machines, we haven’t been penetrated by them yet. We used to think of people who were alone talking to themselves insane, now it’s a sign you’re so important because people need you even when you’re just walking. They need you because you are the source of all knowledge, a walking Wikipedia.
Ok, so that’s what not being human is – which is sadly the predicament we’re in today. To be human is to be able to say, “I screwed up. I don’t know what I’m doing. I am scared. I’m lost.” We are not made to know everything and do everything; to work a hundred hours a day, have 14 children, run a house, have a dog, know how to make a cupcake and jog at four in the morning. These people are held up as role models; they should be burnt at the stake. We should admire people who can just stay in bed. We should say, “Wow, this guy can afford spare time, let’s give him a knighthood.” In truth when we meet someone who seems perfect, secretly we can’t wait for their demise. If someone is flawed I know I am immediately drawn to him knowing he’s like me underneath. Animals know what they’re doing, they migrate thousands of miles to lay an egg and then come back again for some more random sex the same distance; no one complains. We, who don’t have to swim, fly or canter a thousand miles, are dropping from exhaustion for no other reason than keeping up with the next guy who’s keeping up with the next guy who’s heading toward a full nervous breakdown and then nobody speaks to him again because he showed a flaw. To be human is to stand up and claim your weakness. If you do that others around you will feel compassion and empathy, (little used features) and that’s how the world will recover from its inhuman diseases of greed and narcissism – where a human being these days can actually believe he deserves over a £million in bonuses which defines the Frankensteins so many have turned into.”
And you can listen to Ruby’s episode here.