Pedagogica: Snake oil for the online generation


"Fake it until you make it," is a discourse found underlying a US American behavior. It is related to the independent, individualist core value frames of self-determination and taking charge. At best, it means attempting to achieve something, get a job, heist a relationship, or a hitchhike a ride by pretending you are someone you would like to be or claiming abilities you would like to have that you would like others to believe of you until you can backfill with the real thing. Borderline ethical? Should credulity be relied upon until credibility it established? "Fake it" is supported by similar discourse such as “Go for it,” “You can do it!”, and the many "feel good" nostrums drummed into US cultural discourse to banish negativity and quash feelings of impotence with “The Power of Positive Thinking.”

How far is this from the "big lie"? Now that “fake news” is Macquarie Dictionary's word of the year and Oxford Dictionaries have chosen “post-truth”, social constructionist theory will certainly pop to the top of the big board of the cultural stock exchange– is it cultural capital? The accepted truth can be what we make it. It succeeds in how we market and export it, whatever our intentions, legitimate aspirations, power thirst, or posturing for survival. Of course, many of us have suspected all along that there can be as many worlds as there are minds to make them up and kindred spirits grouped to host them. Cultural intermediaries, those who can speak out loud the language that enough others are saying to themselves, will, like snake oil on water, float to the top of these rather liquid worlds.

Would like to know how to do this in the world of cybersex? Here's a little simulation game to help you along. It's called "Fake it to make it." Relying on the algorithms of the human mind, tweets and posts that fit its shared frameworks have a great likelihood of "making the sale." Try the game – it only takes a few minutes to catch the gist. Although there is a current trend in gamification is toward serious games, this one leave me mentally asking the game makers, "Are you serious?" I suspect they are.

"Must we reconceive ourselves as mere meat machines running algorithms, soon to be overtaken by metal machines running better ones? ...the choice between 'programmed' responses and 'free' ones is surely false. We are made up of stories—and we make them up... The narrating self doesn’t replace sense with story; it makes a story that makes its own sense." I stole these last quote fragments from Adam Gopnik's reviews* of several current books of big thinking about the Zeitgeist of the present in the light of history. I'm laying these challenging ruminations on the table for interculturalists to discuss here, as well as looking forward to interaction on critical themes at the coming SIETAR Europa Congress. Hope to see you here, and/or there.

*www.newyorker.com. “Are liberals on the-wrong side of history”, 20 March 2017.

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