Coverless books – Creating a world where people aren’t judged on first appearance
You, me, Dupree and equality
I’ve always dreamed of a world where people from all walks of life could be considered as equal and be judged based on their merits, rather than on anything else.
Unless we aren’t paying too much attention to what they are doing or the task is relatively mundane, this is almost impossible. It is especially difficult in situations where you’re required to invest in people but I do think, our current world provides us with some rare opportunities, to be solely judged on our merits, and not our appearance or background.
I’ll run through a few of them below
Different situations where equality and non judgement exists?
My first experience of this was reading anonymous world war one poems in school. The fact we never found out who wrote them meant they now belong to all those who served, in times of conflict. The pieces represented the overall mood, rather than zooming in on the mindset of one individual. Had we known the author, we’d be busy dissecting their life history rather than taking something from the poem.
These days, we have a journalism-driven tendency to pay more attention to an author than the content of their work. Shame
My next experience of this were from various parts of news papers and magazines. specifically these parts
- Feedback pages
- Advice pages
- Lonely hearts columns
If I just pick the lonely hearts pages as an example, everyone would be given something like 50 words in order to make their impact. No pictures or anything like that, the only thing making an entry stick out would be the effort of the writer. Of course there are other things that come into play with regards to their success, such as distance, age etc but it arguably gave everyone the same blanket opportunity to make an impression with someone on the other side. Since I never intended to pursue any of these invitations, I judged them all equally on their ability to make an impression on me.
For anyone looking at how to make an impact with their writing, I thoroughly recommend this practice.
Another one we all go through are exams but only examinations at a national level, marked by external individuals. Based in the UK, these would be GCSEs and A level examinations but I’m sure most of you have your own equivalent tests. You know the ones where you are given an examination number to remember and this is all the information an examiner has on you while marking your paper. So yes, in that circumstance, an examiner has no real choice but to mark work , purely on the quality of the answer provided. Every paper that lands on their desk ‘should be’ seen equally.
Problem solved, right?
So yeah, I’m able to identify situations where people are relatively equal or where their own reputations, have no influence on the final outcome. Even in situations like this, the process is one way. Information is only going in one direction and for those on the receiving end, you are not engaged with it. Rather, you become a voyeur peering into the details, as a third person removed from it. A fly on the wall so to speak.
What I was trying to experience was a situation where everyone involved was equal, working alongside each other in a reciprocal manner. Where cause and effect influenced decisions continually in a feedback loop and where you were judged on what you had to offer.
When looking at my previous examples, these didn’t quite tick the boxes but eventually, I stumbled upon something that strangely kinda did.
We are anonymous until we are no longer anonymous
When I started using internet forums back in 2003, it was to communicate my dismay of having Doctor Octopus be the second villain in a Spiderman film (I know, first world problems). On signing up to a popular site, you were automatically assigned a Join date and the site calculated how many posts you made. There was also an option to have the following of your own choosing
- Signature (a personal space you could decorate at the end of each post
Those were your only form of identity on the net. You didn’t even get a picture straight away, you had to have 300 posts before you were allowed to have an avatar, finally allowing others to put a face to the name.
It was over the course of these 300 posts that I realised, to anyone reading my comments, I could have been anything
- Man, woman, Goat, transgender
- Straight, gay, Bisexual
- Old,young, teenager, mature, infant
- Christian, Jewish, Agnostic, scientologist
- Spanish, Hatian, Indian, Jamaican, Black, White, Cuban or Asian
- Disabled mentality of physically
- Filthy rich or dirt poor
- Conservative or liberal
- Fit, morbidly obese, Bullemic
- An insider from the industry, an actor, a fan
- A fireman, a porn star, a vetean, a librarian, a senator, a criminal in jail, a dictator
- Married single divorced, poly amorous, bereaved, virgin
These are things most people try to find out when they first meet you, in order to pigeon hole you. EVERYTHING you say and do thereafter is validated as a function of all these parameters.
For examples, you are less likely to take fitness advice from someone who is obese, no matter how valid the information is, it is just the nature of the beast.
So it was surprising that this forum experience was the first time in my life, none of that mattered.
What I personally experienced was all these things, went to the back of your head and what was more important were people’s opinions and their ability to express themselves.
At the base of it all (taking silly things like spelling and alphanumeric usernames out of it), everyone was judged on what they had to contribute first and who they were second (if at all). They were acknowledged by their words and deeds rather than their personal background..
Reputations were built on substance and this is what we used to conjure up a picture of one another in our heads. Infact, at times, you could recognise people simply by the way they posted, formed sentences and opinions, whether they sat on the fence or were heavily defensive to criticism. You could argue that you knew more about them than their real life coworkers. Some even more than their friends and family.
The best thing was, even when you eventually found out what the other users looked like or did for a living, it didn’t matter.
I remember when I found out one of the most respected posters was an unemployed black woman. She purposely waited a while to reveal this. Considering our male dominated environment, had she not earned her respect as a poster first, she would have had her opinions laughed off. In the end though, it didn’t matter (well apart from some typical horny teenage attraction from the newbies), she kept her status and our respect going forward.
It appears when you find out someone’s real life identity, all that additional information is kept in a ‘separate’ part of the mind, it has no significant bearing on how you continue to think of them going forward. Your opinion is already mostly set, it could arguably be dubbed as filler information.
It’s exactly the same as how most heroes are not judged on their secret identities. Or I suppose why sporting legends with troubled personal lives are still seen as cultural icons.
There are very few forms of interaction where personality comes before physical stature. More importantly, there are very few environments where everyone from all walks of life get to start off being relatively equal.
The internet, amongst all its virtual communities, is one of the few places where this is possible.
It is this platform I believe that allows you to gather the true essence of someone or allow the same essence of yourself to flow out.
So, while the possibility exists for people to be judged solely on what they have to offer online, can the medium level out the playing field, with regards to something important, like meeting the love of your life? Find out here in this post
Bring out the Trolls
But here is the funny thing, while the internet allows you to be judged on what you have to offer, it can also tear away the shroud of humanity you hide under everyday, and reveal you are actually a bit of an arse. This revelation not only becomes apparent to other people online but to yourself.
This is the unfortunate consequence of the equality utopia.
The internet, is now a place where people congregate under the anonymity of the medium. Without the ability to be accountable for one’s actions, people are left to do, say and indulge in incredibly negative, dangerous and harmful activities.
They can be imposters, disguising themselves as others and coming up with elaborate lies in order to get something from someone (usually money). I’m sure most of us have been deceived by someone online at a given point in time, I’m also sure more than a few of us have done our fair share of deceiving. I can put my hand up and say I have, albeit my personality stayed in tact throughout, merely my truth life identity was altered for my own means.
You can let the darker side of you out, indulging in your true behaviours and act in a manner you’d never dream of in real life. You steal left right and centre and you don’t even care. You also hear about the people on chatrooms and forums who have goaded others to commit suicide or have gotten vulnerable posters to mutilate themselves for their own dark pleasures. I think sometimes they forget there are real people, living real lives, on the other side of the computer. The lines between entertainment and real life have almost completely vanished.
Let’s not start on the closet bigots and racists out there, who are too scared to voice their opinions, to their work colleagues and families, and would rather retreat to the sanctity of the net.
Then you have the trolls, it appears to be an pandemic disease within our society to spread unnecessary negativity. As with anything, negative criticism should be allowed in order for people’s skills and talents to grow accordingly. However, the negativity that most people encounter is usually hateful, ungrounded and just plain spiteful.
These comments aren’t off the cuff, most haters take their time and actually dedicate a serious amount of their lives to making sure as many people are aware of their hatred towards something as possible. Infact, if you took a snap shot of the internet, you’d garner the opinion everyone hates everything.
The worst of the worst are these hackers who think they are gods because they can read code. Currently we have an ongoing issues with hackers who are holding celebrities and a multi-national corporations to ransom for some ungodly reason (mostly because they’ve been called out).
What’s worse, everyone is scared to bring them in line, govermnents, corporations, the media, everyone!
Anyone that brings them to disrepute is liable to getting their personal details put online. In the world of the stalker, this is pretty fucking dangerous. I have no idea why some people on the net believe they have the right to OUT someone’s personal property or belongings, simply because they’re pissed. What’s worse is they start making demands, like the think they’re Hans Gruber on christmas eve or something.
When you start making ultimatums to people, holding a gun at their heads, in order to get the answers YOU want, then you are always going to be in the wrong. You just turn into a fucking common street bully, regardless of your motives.
Hackers make people feel afraid in their own homes and for me, there is nothing worse than that.
Why oh Why?
The problem stems from our culture and the fact that we are so suppressed in all forms of life, that given an anonymous veil, we become deceitful, looking to hit back and get what’s rightfully ours. So the first chance anyone gets to be open and honest about something, there is always someone in the back waiting to screw you over.
The only reason people follow through with this is because they believe the net isn’t the real world. Therefore they aren’t accountable, it’s just like playing a violent video game, they can turn off and go ‘back to normal life’ with no repercussions on their actions. They aren’t traceable or the issue is so far removed from them, so no one from their real lives will ever see and call them up on it.
That and they have seriously warped delusions of grandeur.
But maybe the anonymity is a separate issue altogether, I know on sites like youtube, you require a google account in order to post and with time, all social media will require verified accounts from individuals. Fingers crossed, this may sort out alot of issues.
But then if you lose anonymity, you may lose a voice and that might be detrimental to society.
I know in the UK we have the law stating that news sources do not have to be published to protect the identity of whistle blowers. The same can be said about the net (wiki leaks for example). The US takes a different stance, where all news sources have to be credited.
In the UK scenario, it allows deep seeded corruption to be exposed without consequence, but it also propagates real shitty tabloid/celebrity based journalisml to hit the papers as well..
Anonymity is important
I mean one of the reasons I have this blog is for that purpose, to be free to tell everyman tales like the war soldiers. I also want to share these tales with strangers, not necessarily because I am worried about my close circle’s opinions but because they are not interested in discussions like this. Even if they were, they would either shy away from it or review it with bias, the bias of knowing me. I wish for my writing to be judged on their own merits.
This is why a lot of authors, when hitting something big, will ghost write or write under another pen name to see whether their future work is strong enough on its own.
The same is said of many djs who wish to create a ‘new sound’ without being burdened with what this might mean to their older work. It’s not uncommon for a dj who has been around for some time to be known under many pseudonyms.
Be careful of what you wish for?
So we have to be careful when creating an equal society, we make something that allows a genuine equal forum for discussion. We offer something that makes people accountable for their words and actions without making people fearful of express themselves constructively in a judgement or repercussion free environment.
Otherwise there is no equality, if people are ultimately scared of being themselves, that is the definition of living in a trapped oppressive society and is exactly the opposite of what I envision going forward.
Or maybe such a thing is simply not natural.
The human is indeed a funny thing and many would argue we are only equal in law and nothing else (some aren’t even equal in that that depending on their nationality, race or gender). Nature never intended for us to be equal, or it would have made us clones.
There is an argument to say what I’m looking for shouldn’t exist and they just might be right afterall