I was just watching a promo for the BBC Earth series. Beautiful stuff. But in that there was a quick piece showing locusts beginning to swarm and at that point a thought popped into my head. First some background . . .
With the pervasive reach of the world wide web into everyone’s life (and pockets) crazy, paranoid, conspiracy ideas are promoted and shared by many more people, politicians and media outlets than ever before. A fantasy world exists where a person can think their information horizon has expanded but in reality they can become trapped in a web of warped ideas and lies they cannot differentiate from reality.
They become isolated in the online communities of like minded people. They consume informational television content that also purveys these wacky ideas. They watch movies that portray a world view that goes along with this and believe it somehow is talking about the real world. They see people and politicians that they assume are more connected, better informed and likely smarter than them and those people are all pushing the same warped ideas so those ideas are most likely to reflect reality, right?
It’s likely very hard for the normal human being, minus the critical thinking skills they never learned, to be able to decipher the messages and sift the lunacy from the reality. In fact the material they are exposed to is engineered to instill fear in them and someone in an emotionally charged state has difficulty with logic and reason. While this has always been understood there is now clinical research to back this up. This Psychology Today article might be more amenable to most.
30 years, or more, ago we would have seen them as fringe elements. Left to themselves, in small groups, they were like the grasshoppers on your lawn. Happily munching away and amounting to a nuisance at best.
Now, though, it’s different.
Some Grasshoppers have the Locust in them, waiting for the right trigger to morph into ravaging hordes. What makes them change into locusts is primarily proximity: “Swarming behaviour is a response to overcrowding. Increased tactile stimulation of the hind legs causes an increase in levels of serotonin” (source wikipedia)
Overcrowding – where in the past it would have been clear to these people that not everyone shared their ideas (and that they were in a minority) now they live in the mental cocoon I described above. And they see a lot of people that all think like they do.
Increased tactile stimulation – think being bombarded with the same crazy ideas from many sources daily. Incessantly. Even from candidates for the most powerful position in the world, president of the USA.
When you look at the pervasive growth in numbers of people with warped, paranoid, ideas they want to share; when you see thousands at the Trump rallies echoing the jingoistic words of the demagogue; when you turn on your TV and see anchors and pundits on Fox TV spouting shite no level headed thinking person would be caught saying – think Locust.
They used to be humans but now they’ve become LOCUSTS.
And that noise they make growing louder and more strident by the week? That’s the beating of the wings in the swarm.
And that BBC promo? You can watch it here.