as we renegotiate aspects of reality


“We continuously make promises and create agreements with ourselves and others. Some of these agreements are mutually beneficial. However, when you realize that things you agreed to in the past are no longer helpful, possible, or relevant, renegotiate. Be invested enough in your situations or relationships for renegotiation to take place.”
Susan C. Young


“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.”
Shirley Jackson


I have written a number of pieces on fantasy realities and the alternative universe thinking strewn throughout today’s society. Today is more about each of us, individually, and how I believe all of us are assessing our grip on reality. This isn’t about creating a fantasy thinking space, but rather assessing what we believed was reality and some of its underpinnings. Yes. Today let’s all agree on reality.

In fantasy thinking reality is an inconvenience, but in a world in which you truly see, and understand reality as it exists, you begin to noodle the inconveniences a bit more. In other words, we all begin renegotiating reality. What I mean by that is as we look around us, we note some specific aspects of reality and begin negotiating with them in our minds even with some that could be considered traditionally sacrosanct. I tend to believe we do this all the time, but the pandemic drove the thinking a bit deeper in breadth and depth. What may make this unique is that, generally speaking, everyone is doing this at the same time individually making decisions in their own minds with their own formula Life remix .. and because of that changing some of their attitudes. This doesn’t mean that most people are flipping 180 degrees on specific aspects of reality, but what it does mean is that many many people are shifting their views maybe 2 to 5 degrees. They begin seeing reality from a slightly different point of view. And not everybody is stepping to the same side or to the same degree. I say that because I know that a lot of people want to sell books and futurists want to design a future based on what they see, but not to be ironic society all the people are actually in the middle of the renegotiation process. All the books and all the futurist experts are simply guessing. They’re guessing not only how individuals are renegotiating, but they’re guessing that there will be enough renegotiations coalescing into the view that they are projecting. Once again that is a guess.

Which leads me to the renegotiation.

Questions and questioning. The depth and breadth of the questioning is mind-numbing. Does how I work make sense? Does how I live my life make sense? Do some of the decisions I have made in the past makes sense, i.e., did society truly offer paths that were in my best interest? In fact, what is in my best interest? Whom can I believe let alone trust? It doesn’t help that with 24/7 access technology it’s no longer just our eyes and ears, it’s the rise of misinformation and disinformation and lies and selective facts often leaving us feeling distant or detached from not only reality, but from ourselves mentally and physically.  Each person has both, simultaneously, a reduced and expanded sense of reality. I would suggest we are revolting. Maybe not physically, but socially and culturally. The pandemic certainly gave us significant opportunities to be able to look pretty closely at our lives, how we interact with business and society, and rethink all aspects of our lives from our jobs, lifestyles, family, priorities, to how we actually would like the world around us to function. The pandemic simplistically bared all the pain points that maybe we had just ignored or were just niggling underneath the surface of life. I would suggest that all of this makes almost every single person push back in some form or fashion against the existing balances of power and rethinking the cornerstones of society and how it works. Basically, we are questioning everything and, hence, renegotiating reality here and there. The problem, at least for those in power (institutions, businesses, politicians) is that each of us are questioning in our own way, about our own aspects that bother us, and are individually arriving at answers. This is an extremely untidy thing happening across communities and societies in general. This doesn’t mean that at some point we won’t coalesce into some fairly agreeable version of how society, business and life should work, but for awhile its going to be a jumble of jagged edges. But, to be clear, institutions, businesses, the system in general, and the power structure will be resistant to losing any control and any power and will relentlessly attempt to impose its will on the people.

Which leads me, specifically, to business and capitalism.

The idea that a worker should devote their life to some institution and powering profits of a business, rewarding the executives and investors, is increasingly unpalatable to most workers. This has a cascading effect. What I mean by that is, if you start questioning climbing the corporate ladder, then you begin questioning the value of the things that in the past have been deemed important to climbing that ladder. That includes college. And if that begins happening, then the cascading questioning falls all the way down to looking at the entire system and the things that underpin the economy, work, and capitalism. We start questioning the economic system, where we belong in that system, and how that system rewards or penalizes us. Certainly, research is showing that while people may not have a positive view of capitalism, they aren’t interested in completely ditching capitalism, just questioning it and whether it does more harm than good in the world. This also has repercussions. For example, different political ideologies articulate how that comes to life in different ways Conservatives suggest that Progressives are seeking solutions in Marxism, socialism, and Communism. That’s not necessarily true. They’re just seeking solutions to what they deem as an unacceptable version of capitalism, but not seek to create a new ideology. Liberals suggest that conservatives are seeking solutions in authoritarianism to hammer down what they view as successful in the past (hence: conserving). Its kind of a hyper conservative culture version of a system of governing in society. This is actually happening. I imagine my larger point is that as we, individuals, cast about with our criticism of what exists, HOW we criticize is used as a tool to divide us. I think we need to be careful in discerning between questioning and criticizing. I say that because across the scope of liberals, conservatives, men, women, all races, we’re not only seeing questioning of the facets of life which were once considered sacrosanct, in many cases we’re actually seeing repudiation of facets of life once considered sacrosanct. We are, well, renegotiating reality.

Which leads me to say each person is plucking out aspects of the existing reality and challenging them.

This isn’t fantasy thinking and it only creates the appearances of ‘alternative universe thinking’, but, its reality. This renegotiation process COULD affect reality and society in a whole cloth way, or it could simply be renegotiation of aspects within a larger framework of a social contract. But none of this is fantasy, none of this is alternative universe stuff, all of it is true renegotiation. It may be confusing when viewed from a meta standpoint because it is all happening at a mesa standpoint – one person at a time. Businesses hate that because they want some standardization. Institutions hate that because they want some standardization. Governments hate that because they want some standardization. And, if we are honest, communities hate that because they want some standardization. Renegotiation is a flow state and I am fairly sure no one knows where society will flow to. It’s going to be weird and fairly uncomfortable for awhile with no clear answers. But, well, that is reality. Ponder.

Written by Bruce