In today’s society, information has been greatly democratized, and people expect everything there is to be known to be available to every person. If you tell someone that certain knowledge is sacred, secret, or just too advanced for them to understand, they’re typically deeply offended and automatically assume that you’re up to something suspicious.
It is a curious arrangement. Why would someone believe such a thing? What is the precedence? What people do in their spare time, how they sit on the toilet, where they like to go to regain solace, and why they have strong reactions for impressionist art is not known to you not because you do not care to find out. It is simply none of your damn business. Like most things, people understand this on a personal level, but then fail with upscaling. Let’s say a meat processing plant doesn’t want cameras or visitors. Or, a certain female actress has a sex tape leaked onto the internet. Neither give reasons or explanations, and both decline any comments. What is the common public reaction then?
If you ask someone a question and they don’t answer or tell you in one way or another to mind your own business, they declined to give you information. While it is true they refused to give you information, it is often a sub-optimal and very often a counterproductive way of thinking. In that structure, the operating term goes from “they declined” to “refused to give you” – you are now the subject, not them. Almost by definition, to treat yourself as the subject is to act as if you are the center of the universe. Who is going to take you seriously? Is that man on the street going to cower in fear and give you what you want after you declare that heaven’s thunder will come crashing down on him unless he divulges why he wears the same style of shirt every day? Of course not. Indeed, you wouldn’t care to ask such a question anyways. If you did, you would ask him respectfully, and be fine with it if he declined to answer.
However, if the subject instead was environmentalism, suddenly there is much more reason to be offended if you see that same man driving around in what you know is a gas inefficient car. If you demanded instead, telling him that the world will end if he doesn’t start using public transportation, then the action corresponds with the belief much more optimally. If for whatever reason that style of shirt the man wore meant something similar, then being offended will help motivate you into action.
Thus, we know that people who believe information belongs to everyone believe so out of a sense of duty to some kind of higher objective value.
Of course, this alone is not enough to determine such a demeanor. You may have a longing desire to know about a beautiful lady’s sex life, but this does not mean that you are going to stalk her and then demand to know when nobody else is looking. There are too many things lining against you. If she is that desirable, other men will probably be watching her as well, and jump on her crisis as an opportunity. After that you will have to spend massive amounts of money in court to win a criminal case, and even if you win the case you will have little hope of staying employed in that area.
This all changes if the woman in question is famous. Now, no longer does she have the shroud of anonymity protecting her – all eyes are on her, at all times. Now, all you need to do is join up with a group of other like-minded men, and you are no longer an assaulter or a stalker. From the legitimization of media and the public, you are now “paparazzi”.
Thus, the people who believe information belongs to everyone believe so because they have the power to obtain it.
Assuming no other limiters to the first condition, these two things are the optimal describers of those who believe in the democratization of knowledge.
They are also suboptimal courses of action in any and all cases. Though they are the best justifiers of this belief in the democratization of knowledge, the belief itself is still not good for much. You can talk all day about the benefits of eating fast food every meal, how it’s cheaper and faster and contains many things that you would not be able to create yourself lest you devote many long hours to cooking – but nobody’s going to listen to you because overall, it is less than worthless.
The first condition is inaccurate. Democratization of knowledge has nothing to do with Truth or Justice. The justification for more brash courses of action arose from desires to “save the world”, or somewhat equivalent. The claim is because it is more important, more things are allowed. But more important to whom? To none other than the believer, of course. Whether or not people are outright wrong or just hold a different opinion is irrelevant, the objective is to convince them to change their minds. To act suspicious around them, demand things of them, and shame them is counterproductive. If they truly wanted Truth or Justice, this would not be their course of action.
The second condition is fulfilled incorrectly. Power is simply a shorthand term for “social cost”. A man is not powerful because they have stockpiles of desirable metals, it is because people desire to trade with him for it (not “trade with him for it“). Anyone with a gun can become as powerful as that man given certain circumstances – you trade in the threat of murder, and whoever is at the other end of the barrel trades in however much you are willing to take. The former usually outnumber the latter because the net cost is lower: a rich man can convince the other party that all costs have been paid, and the deal is done. The thief can only convince the other party temporarily until he is out of sight, at which point the other party calls in aid to track down and arrest the thief, and then slander the thief so that all his other social costs will rise, i.e. make him powerless. However, the corresponding cost for information is lower. There’s a reason why it’s called “Democratization of Knowledge” – Democracy is what subsidizes this idea. It is this system of government which lowers price and thus increases demand for more and more information. Powerless people are now powerful, and they seek to use it in any way they can.
While kings of the ancients were “allowed” by the public to do more or less as they pleased, they still had to contend with other kings, potential overthrowers, and their own citizenry to retain power. This is why although the Dark Ages were supposedly filled by strife, the Middle Ages reached enough stability for kings to build more or less permanent castles and form large alliances (supporters became loyal), and by the Enlightenment the wars were purely a thing for the nobles and royalty (the commoners were not bothered). With the commoners of today doing everything by anonymous ballot that has a social price of zero, and protests which have a negligible social price due to numbers, these new powerful people learn none of the costs and all of the benefits.
There exists a parallel cost in information as there is in power.
With power, one must deal with other power sources to reach an equilibrium. With obtaining information, one must deal with other information to reach an equilibrium. And just as people today do not understand the costs of power, they also do not understand the costs of information.
[…] If you tell someone that certain knowledge is sacred, secret, or just too advanced for them to understand […]
The “other information” is yourself – your perspective.
It is easy to accept that a mad man cannot comprehend compassion, or that a distressed student cannot comprehend complex concepts. It is the same reason why a zealous Christian Fundamentalist will not be able to hold a conversation on the science of biology when it comes to evolution. This principle applies also to any who demand information because it “is” available to everyone – it isn’t. Information is most definitely not free. Indeed, one way to view the respectful method versus the brash method of acquiring information is to say that you as the buyer are helping determine the cost you must pay – completely independent of the supplier. If you are going to follow etiquette, the price is lower. If not, the price is exponentially higher.
But for people who believe information should be available to everyone, there is no price to pay. They weigh Justice, or Truth, or whatever, against what they need to do to get information out of you. Their results are always going to be the same so after an initial few times they never bother to do cost-benefit analysis again: Justice/Truth/whatever has infinite weight, so whatever they do will always be justified. In another sense, the immense scale of “the greater good” makes them ignore everything they must do.
We not only ignore the existence of others when demanding things of them, saying things like they refuse to divulge information or they resist the movement of peace and love – we ignore something else as well.
This second part is exactly why this culture can’t perform publicly and why its men can’t approach attractive women, and this is completely independent of the fact that those things are completely different from the conditions mankind evolved in. Such events force us to become “self-conscious”. It is telling that the term is talked about in a negative light, because it confirms all that was discussed. In those situations, where the beloved “greater good” disappears, you realize just how much you have missed out on.
If you take a one day break from ballet, you will know it. If you take a two day break, those around you will know it. And if you take a one-week break, your audience will know it.
– Neko-Sensei, Princess Tutu
You have been free to roam with power to obtain almost any information you please – and now, when you are forced by chaos to adhere to principles, you discover that you have been practicing none. When everyone looks at you, the balance of information is made clear. Indeed, the balance of everything is made clear.
You know nothing and can do nothing about other people, and
[/because] You know nothing and can do nothing about yourself.
The first is inevitable.
But the second is not.
………A new wallet.
A strange cat keychain. A different style of cologne. A music tape that’s not his style…which he said he borrowed from a senior at theater. ……His senior was going so he couldn’t refuse. He suddenly had this part-time job to go to. Talked with a friend on the phone for a really long time.
Made too much curry.
Went to theater practice more often.
The way he folds paper towels.
Thanks, I’ve already eaten.
He knew stuff about cosmetics.
Sorry, I was sleeping.
The toilet seat was left down.
He spent the night over at his stage friends’ place.
My acting friends had a party here earlier. Someone must have left it behind.
The drain and sink were cleaned out.
Receipts and point cards from places he doesn’t usually go.
The muddy soles are evidence that you went out on Monday when it was raining. That matches the strange symbol on the calender. None of your theater friends have hair this long. That’s a leading question. How do you know the plot of a movie you haven’t seen yet?
Evidence, evidence, circumstantial evidence. Observation, surveillance, tracking, tailing. Information gathering, wiretapping, asking about, questioning.
I found tons of evidence that I loved you.
I found tons of evidence that you loved me.
But I couldn’t find any evidence that you haven’t been cheating on me.
Give it a rest. If you love me, then trust me…
If you can’t do that, then you don’t love me anymore. How could I love someone like that? I’ll treasure you for all my life, but I want to do well in theater just as much. You said you liked seeing me act, right? So why are you telling me to stop acting now? Why do I have to choose between you and acting? What’s wrong with you? I’m seriously worn out, alright? Come on, if all we do is fight when we see each other, maybe we both need some time to cool off, okay? I need to concentrate for my next performance anyways. There’s this senior girl who suddenly said she wouldn’t be able to perform. I need to rewrite the script by tomorrow. I don’t have the time for this.
If you really find it that hard to trust me, we’re through. Stay away, just go home, bitch, I don’t love you anymore. Don’t cry dammit, it’s disgusting. Just die. Stop shouting, dammit, you’re annoying the neighborhood. Just get the hell away from me and never come back.
– Umineko no Naku Koro Ni: Chiru