I was born in 1985 when the black consciousness movement was beginning to take a more central position in British politics. Before the Mandela cause, being black in Britain was not easy. When my Welsh nan married grandad, who was half Trinidadian and half Chinese, her father disapproved and refused to speak to her again. And my great grandfather stayed true to his word.
In 1985, Margaret Thatcher was smashing up the unions and starving the coal miners. Britain was still burning coal and London was called ‘The Big Smoke‘ for a reason. The Macintosh 128k was launched and if you also had a LaserWriter printer and Aldus Pagemaker, you were all equipped for home publishing.
In the time I have grow up the technological revolution and globalisation has just about blown the arse out of Marx’s base and superstructure.
I’m currently an undergraduate studying journalism. When I first begun the course my idea of journalism was an archaic variation of what I’m now grasping. Five years earlier I would have been learning shorthand and investigative skills. Today I’m being taught how to create my virtual self and connect to my virtual community via social media.
For the past twelve years I have been on a fact finding mission which all started with a magic mushroom trip on the beach. I was sixteen and renting a flat on the Isle of Wight. I received income support and worked cash-in-hand during the tourist season. I had no real problems with the world – people still fitted easily into three categories: goodies, baddies and idiots.
The slimy whole mushrooms I swallowed were boiled in water an hour previously to make a ‘mushy brew.’ They felt alive and churned in my stomach like small creatures, I needed to burp and was beginning to feel ungrounded. I dug my hands deeply into the cold sand and fixed my gaze on the sliver of silver water rolling at the shoreline. I lifted my hands out from the dug and gravity pulled the sand through my fingers; in that moment I had no concept of a separation between my fingers and the spilling grains. I inhaled, and the sea exhaled with me.
A simple drug-given revelation: I discovered reality as two opposing and irreducible principles accounting for all that exists. Each grain of sand as a dimension independent from its whole. The sea as a single molecular mass. The beach appeared to me as a great manifestation of nature’s dualism. I spent the rest of the night shifting through coastal landslip like a paleologist lost on the Inca Trail. My acute awareness of nature was remarkable. I noticed many natural elements existing side-by-side that are as different as coal-and-ice. I remember the inherent clarity in knowing that if one was to be erased, both would perish.
I had a restless and inquiring mind as a child. The difficulty was to contain myself within the boundaries of formalism. I would, and still do, question what creates reality, forms culture and sets ideological boundaries. I did not continue my quest for meaning via hallucinogenics; instead I ventured of with Aldous Huxley in the search for Utopia. I soon found myself lost in the city – needing to quickly understand how human systems work.
Once again, I’m feeling ungrounded. I haven’t ingested any shrooms recently, but I do need to burp something up. That something might be my newly acquired Iphone, Ipad and my twitter account. I have been advised by a lecturer, that I must be ‘deeply engaged’ with social media if I want to have a successful career as a journalist.
This is not to say I disagree with social media, just that it’s hard to ingest. Globalisation is the most homogenising human system we have created yet and one that we all need to grasp for survival.
As for any utopian, Kant’s Idea for Perpetual Peace, or more realistically, a sort of cosmopolitan order based on human rights and freedoms, in theory, is an appealing future prospect. Moreover, I hope the broadening exchange of information between societies will help us to achieve a better notion of responsibility towards each other. I hope the growing density of an insuppressable world market will be favourable to a peaceful unification of states.
I scrolled down the twitter feed and every post was a tribute to Mandela or a news alert of his death. Time had not stood still, but something had stopped. As if it never existed: the clashing of world outlooks, conflicting ideologies and the incessant stream of tweets fermenting reality.
One post read, ‘RIP Mandela, the world is slowly running out of inspiring people.’ Yes, the old-school is dying and forces we don’t fully understand are dismantling the framework for past ways of living. It seems we must revolutionise our ideas if they are to fit within the new paradigms for society.
Nature holds that it’s unnecessary for the earth to be dominated by a single element, moreover, opposing elements sit comfortably side-by-side; there are no contradictions. But in humanity, diversity and the freedom to just exist is not a given. I understand how engagement with social media is now imperative for a new journalist to become a successful working journalist. It also seems imperative for all socialised groups to master the convention of social media to authenticate their existence and reinforce pluralism.