#193 – Sense Making and Media – David Fuller

How can you make sense of the problems that face us when our capacity to make sense of the problem is the problem itself?

This week I explored sense making and the media with David Fuller, founder of the Rebel Wisdom Channel who is also a former BBC and Channel4 journalist.

David talks about how sense making is the fundamental issue that faces all of us – our inner capacity, both individually and collective, to make sense and meaning of the outside world and then to agree on what is truth and what are the key problems we need to focus on.

This issue is further exacerbated by the incentive structures, drivers and failures of both legacy media and alternative media, which is then accelerated by technologies that are purposefully designed to mine and capture our attention and concentration.

These factors and their impacts, which are being left unchecked, are causing a mounting existential crisis of disconnection that potentially sit at the heart of many of the recognised mental and emotions health issues we now encounter.

With financially incentivised decentralised flows of information straight to the individual now a feature of life, it is time for each of us to do our individual work in terms of ‘cleaning house’ and developing our relationship with the truth and how we make sense of the outer world so we can live a meaningful life.

Read Full Transcript

 

Bryn Edwards 

Hello, and welcome back to WA Real. I’m your host, Bryn Edwards. Today I have the great pleasure of welcoming David Fuller to the show, David. Welcome.

 

David Fuller 

Hey, Bryn.

 

Bryn Edwards 

First off, I’d like to give you a big thank you for taking the time to talk to me today, I made an enormous fan of the Rebel Wisdom channel. And I think it’s quite incredible, the amazing people and minds and brains and thoughts and perspectives that you are bringing together there, it certainly shaped me and shaped this podcast for myself. So I thank you hugely for that. So as people may or may not know, you, a journalist by background working for the BBC and Channel Four. And one of the things I really wanted to talk to you about today is that we’re living in very, obviously very changeable and chaotic times. And at times like that people want to know what’s going on, they want a sense of certainty in their life. And so we look to the media, whether it’s the traditional, mainstream or legacy media, as you call it, or whether we’re on Facebook, and YouTube and podcasts and whatever. And what I’m noticing is that, that is beginning to really confuse people confuse their frames of reference for the world, and fragment fragment their thinking. And so what a thought would be really useful today is if we could explore what are some of the sort of underlying assumptions and coordinates that are going on, which then on the outside, and then sort of look at what’s going on in the inside as people try to meet that and they get confused. And so you’re up to the challenge.

 

David Fuller 

Give it a go. solving, solving the problem of truth together?

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, well, yeah, there we go. We’ll have it done in 60 minutes to people to white middle class, middle aged white blokes. And so one of the things at first like to, to just real basic coordinate headlight start off is, is just recognising that the media plays a key role in shaping how we perceive reality. And so therefore, it actually it shapes our reality, as we see it. Is that true? Would you agree with that?

 

David Fuller 

Yeah. I mean, we kind of use I mean, try not to use too much complicated terminology, but we talk about sense making a lot on the channel on rebel wisdom. And the media is one aspect. And it’s, we often hear about things through various forms of, of media, which is now obviously expanded way beyond newspapers, TV to Google and Facebook as where we get now 90% or, or something astronomical, like most, most things are coming through social media channels now, rather than I mean, very few people are watching, like, legacy TV channels. So it’s, it’s basically about where we are proxying Our sense making, but we can’t go through the world. We have, we have to proxy our sense, maybe we have to take some things on trust, we have to. Yeah, we have to, whether that’s academia, whether that’s the media, whether that’s our friends opinions on Facebook, the world is too complex for us to analyse every single piece of information that’s coming in. And there’s increased scepticism towards legacy media, what some people call mainstream media, but I I don’t like using that term, because I think it it’s too broad and too general, it just sort of, it doesn’t really mean anything, it’s too all encompassing. So there’s a there’s an increased scepticism towards there is a perspective that is being pushed through legacy media, which I think is kind of true. I think it’s more complex than that there’s multiple different perspectives. But there is the sense that there are people are seeing the set of assumptions behind a lot of the, the, the legacy media that we’re being given. And I’d say those assumptions include the ones that I’m really interested in a lot of people look at mainstream or legacy media and think, oh, are those political assumptions or those political interests and that’s what’s going on. For me, the more interesting set of assumptions are materialism, scientism kind of a very limited atomistic rational way of looking at the world which is kind of implicit in a lot of our health understanding. It’s implicit in a lot of our analysis. have what you might call spirituality, transformation. And I’m really interested in like one of those topics where you can see another way of looking at the world. So those, those would be a set of assumptions. And that, for me is also where I think things are breaking down more concretely is, I think there’s a whole system of kind of mental, rational, atomistic consciousness, that kind of thinkers like Ken Wilber have talked about. And this sort of sense of that we need a deeper conception of who we are as people, and a paradigm shift and the sort of cliched way of looking at it. That I think is we’re seeing a lot of the structures that are built around an old way of looking at the world and old paradigm breaking down. And that’s part of the sense making crisis. That’s part of the problem of truth. Because I think increasingly, these old structures are failing to perceive things accurately.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So we use a breakdown, just so we’re clear is that the fact that the story that’s coming across is not relatable to how my everyday life is panning out.

 

David Fuller 

That’s part of it. Yeah, but there’s also factors like, concentrating on the wrong metrics for a long time, leads to really bad, like, we’re in the middle of a mental health crisis, we’re in the middle of a meaning crisis, we’re in the middle of a purpose crisis. Because the things that we thought were meaningful, like, the only things that we’re measuring are not necessarily what makes life meaningful. They’re not what what give us purpose there. And, I mean, it’s a huge, huge topic. And people like john DeBakey, who’s put together a 50 hour series called awakening from the meaning crisis, a digging into it much deeper than I ever could. And he traces it back to the whole history of Western philosophy. And this sense, I guide people towards some like Richard tarnis, who talked about how the western mind has created a real prison for itself in terms of materialism, primarily, with a very narrow conception, a very narrow conception of who we are and what we could be. And so that I think, is the deepest layer and the problem of finding truth and the problem of sensemaking. But the most, the most obvious layer that we encounter on a daily basis, and you pointed to at the beginning, it’s like, there’s a, there’s a systematic layer, but there’s also an inner layer as well of like, what are what are these new technologies doing to us? This, this sense that our attention is being hijacked, our attention has been fragmented, is being mined effectively by Silicon Valley. So we all know that the natural world is being exploited, but the inner world of attention, concentration has been increasingly mined over the last 2030 years by Silicon Valley, and they’re very, very good at it. And it’s fundamentally turned us into different kinds of people. When we have shorter attention spans, we are more outraged, because outrages is something that keeps us coming back to Facebook, it keeps us coming back to Twitter, we get involved in what Tristan Harris has called the bath the race to the bottom of the brainstem. Yeah, which is hacking outrage. It’s hacking, effectively, tribal fight or flight, Primal, narcissistic triggers to then keep us coming back to social media. So you’ve got, you’ve got the problem of sense making or the problem of making sense of the world, or the problem of truth is multi multi layered. Yeah, but it, yeah, and it draws on all of these different factors.

 

Bryn Edwards 

But it’s difficult to even engage with any of those layers, if your nervous system is fired up, and your perception is closed.

 

David Fuller 

And it’s also difficult, it’s just difficult to perceive the problem, because part of the problem is the difficulty in perceiving it.

 

 

Yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. 100%. And I’ve recently we’re

 

David Fuller 

difficult to make sense of the problem when the problem is the problem sensemaking.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Exactly. Exactly. That

 

David Fuller 

sounds recursive. And bizarre. It is. And it it has to be because even getting a grip on it is, is very, very difficult.

 

Bryn Edwards 

It is it is because we are contained within our you know, our frames that we developed into our frames of how we make sense of the world. I mean, a great example where where I ran up against this just recently is that helping to develop is a real basic example helping to develop an app with vegetable growers here in Western Australia. Now we have English speaking growers and Vietnamese growers. And the app developer was saying, well, it’s easy we can just add We can just change the English words into Vietnamese. And I was like, No, you may have to reconfigure how that works. He’s like, why he goes, because they just think differently. And that just didn’t compute. And in that moment, I was like, oh, wow, is just a basic example, in the workplace, let alone How are the different frames of dealing with things? It’s interesting. Picking up on some of these were saying earlier, I’ve just worked my way through the documentary series can’t get you out of my head by Adam Curtis. were one of the major parts he’s looking at is that you talk about, you know, our attentions being systematically extracted and mined. And it’s very interesting that he draws parallels between imperialism and colonisation. And, and almost starts, he draws a lot on the British Empire of how we brought civilization to the world. And we’re measuring, you know, measuring the skulls of people all around the world and measuring and trying to colonise understand. And then that taking that theme that we’ve then moved into is like an American imperialism, where if I focused on individualization and our goal really got a sense that we were being individualised and that our feelings were becoming even more important than they may need to be. I don’t have a topic for another thing, but and then now we’re going even further into actually colonising our attention, and our inner world. And certainly, when coming out of watching social dilemma, which, you know, Tristan Harris, my sense from, sort of psychological background is, is that we’re almost we’re almost replacing our own subconscious and collective conscious with an almost technological one. Does that does that make sense?

 

David Fuller 

Well, I mean, our tools change us, like an our smartphones are changing in ways that are completely it’s an experiment. I think Jonathan Hite talks about it as a multi year experiment with no control group. And I never and essentially, that is irreversible. But that things it has fundamentally changed what we outsource things. This is something that come in the name of the guy wrote at the row. Henriques, I think talked about us being weird. We are the weirdest people in the world. So Western industrialised educated, r&d, whatever the other two are, right. But effectively, what we have been doing since the beginning of the Western experiment is outsourcing a lot of our inner function functions into institutions, namely, like democracy, law and order. Like we we’ve systematically outsource a lot of our of our kind of infrastructure in the past on to external institutions. And now we’re doing the same with our smartphones. Yeah. And our smartphones are becoming a cart wheel. We’re already kind of cyborgs in a way.

 

 

Yeah.

 

David Fuller 

I mean, that’s a that’s a fun. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I feel my the amount of attention span I have on a daily basis is fundamentally different from how it was a while ago, I can’t remember the last time I was able to sit down and read a whole book. And that’s unusual for me.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Well, I think it was only two days ago, I actually bravely switched the phone off notifications and worked on a document for two hours, I felt strangely good after it. And it’s interesting what you say about the introduction of technology. I mean, certainly from that social dilemma film you get you get the clear view that AI is not coming through the front door. Allah Terminator. It’s sneaking its way through the back door to our human weakness. It’s interesting you talk about the talk about that you know, it’s a it’s a multi year experiment with no no control group or anything because it kind of leaves me at times when I look at people getting outraged now might sound like a real middle aged man, but there are times when I sit there and just go Where are the grownups? Who Who’s got when will sense prevail here? And, and and we realise that our attention is declining our we’re getting emotionally hijacked, we’re getting played left, right and centre, whether it’s clever advertising, whether it’s you know, media telling us this thing and then that thing and then another thing and we never really dial back to what they were telling us last week and how that’s incongruent to what they’re telling me this week. And it’s scary, huh?

 

David Fuller 

Yeah, I mean, you asked where the grown ups are. I mean, the grown ups in this world are people like Mark Zuckerberg. I mean, they are not growing up in any meaningful way. Like, you just look at the guy and you’re like, I mean, our old, the old media moguls, like rupert murdoch, were kind of quite scary people. But in a way, I think someone like Mark Zuckerberg is more scary, like the sort of almost like, Android mentality. That just, yeah, it’s I don’t know it. Yeah, you look at Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley are learning the hard way, a lot of things that were learned by media over the course of centuries, and software’s eating the world, like this idea that software is basically demolishing all of these old businesses, from taxis, through Uber to media in particular, like it is the death of a lot of different media, businesses, because they’re being destroyed or undercut by Google and Facebook.

 

 

Hmm.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So I said earlier on. I know you’ve talked recently about the failure conditions of legacy media of alternative media. And

 

 

it’s,

 

Bryn Edwards 

I guess, for somebody who’s listening to this conversation for and actually interacting with the idea of sense making and and what goes on in the media? Can you just provide some simple coordinates as to what’s going on? And why people are finding this so bloody confusing at the moment?

 

David Fuller 

I’m sure. Well, I think we’re seeing the decline of the old structure increasingly fast. So let’s talk about two let’s separate out let’s talk about the legacy media, and why that is increasingly failing. And then the alternative media and why that one of the failure conditions of that, I think, and they’re interrelated, like some of the reasons why the legacy media are fading of the same dynamics that we’re seeing on the alternative media. But effectively, there’s a financial crisis. That means that the advertiser has been advertising has been gobbled up by Facebook and Google primarily. So the business models are increasingly fragile for legacy media, which means that they are increasingly chasing smaller and smaller groups of people, which means that they by definition, and some of them have got subscription models still. But the problem with a subscription model is that it’s easy to lose subscribers and very hard to gain them. So if they put out there increasingly, they are preaching to the converted, and not featuring, like the New York Times leans left, yeah, it will increasingly lean left. And if it does, sort of sympathetic article with someone like Jordan Peterson, as an idea, just as an example, they will lose subscribers. Yeah. And so the there’s an increasing incentive to the mind, to only preach to the converted or not to have a sort of broad Church of opinion. And so the the idea of any media institution that’s having a broad, a broad spectrum of opinion, or a broad spectrum of perspectives, is now less and less supported by the business model. And you’re also seeing increasingly good quality journalists from these legacy media companies striking off on their own and doing substack or podcasts. And that, and then you’re also having ideological capture of these of these places. Yeah, on the right, you had a lot of a lot of media organisations becoming increasingly supportive of Trump or Trump was a thing that kind of split a lot of a lot of the place on the right, you’ve got kind of ideological capture on the left what some people call wokeness. And there was a whole series of incidents last summer in newsrooms around the states where people like Barry Weiss andrew sullivan, were forced out. And so you’re getting an increasing ideological monoculture inside a lot of news organisations, especially in America. And I think America is driving America is is pretty much driving the media landscape, the media ecology for everyone else. So what happens there really does matter. And it really you’re having all of these factors that are? Yeah, I mean, that’s the that’s the other irony of Silicon Valley eating the world and software eating the world is that suddenly we’re all Americans, we’re all being subject to these culture war dynamics, that pretty much certainly in the UK, we used to kind of look over at America with a certain amount of superiority because they were kind of arguing over things that we would never argue over, like abortion or gun control, or these kind of issues that seem to kind of be polarising and driving American society apart that we are not issues in Europe, for example. Yeah. But I think increasingly, we are now being dragged into American culture war over certain issues. And now, because I think because we’re in, we’re all in the same. We’ve got the globalisation of inflammation. And that means that we’ve caught a lot of the American sicknesses.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, so hence why we’re all now having to do unconscious bias training and things like that.

 

David Fuller 

Exactly. Yeah.

 

Bryn Edwards 

I guess, as I listen to you talk about the impact of the of the, you know, the, the economic rationale and the business model in and of itself. Let’s just be clear, then that that means we’re getting, we’re getting news through one lens, which will be appealing to keep somebody as a subscriber, which in and of itself will start to narrow someone’s perception of the world. And as particularly given that, you know, we’re now in a, we’re now in a world where I’m consuming and reading stuff off here, right. And my own individual device, you know, we’re not, as you know, when you and I grew up, where it’s the six o’clock news, which was every, you know, it’s like, if you watch the news, that’s what everybody watched. And that’s what they could, that’s what they consumed. And so there was like, a unique point of reference, when now individualised. And, yeah, so we’ve got this monetary incentive, which will be backed up with an algorithm, which gives us more of what we want. And so it’s little wonder that we start to become more polarised more insular. And plus, you know, given what you were saying earlier on about being emotional emotionally hijacked, is we’ve now got very fragile nervous systems that are not up for wider views. So yeah. Is that what you’re seeing? as well as the sort of response to that?

 

David Fuller 

Yeah, good. Someone, I’d really highly recommend people check out his Jordan holes concept, the documentary product called Deep code, Jordan, Hall’s concept of the blue church, I think is a really useful. It’s a really useful mental model to understand what’s going on. And he talks about how in the past, the task of coordinating large groups of people involved coordination of information, and that’s effectively what we had, up until relatively recently, and now we have this fragmentation of information, and orderly sort of pick up and say, you’ve got the problems of the the legacy media. But the the problem with the alternative media is, in many ways, worse, better and worse. I mean, the The amazing thing is that the decentralisation of media means that anyone can start a YouTube channel, anyone can be their own broadcaster on Facebook or Twitter. Which is brilliant, because we’ve got far more perspectives now you’ve got far more capacity for other voices or other perspectives to enter, like rebel wisdom being a perfect example. We’ve, we talked about spirituality, we talk about transformation, and we try and bring a deeper lens to the cultural conversation that is offered through the legacy media. And that’s fantastic. But what I see happening and the legacy media is sorry, in the in the alternative media as these little ecosystems arise, and then the incentive structures mean that you get all of these things like audience capture, you get, effectively, the incentive structure leads away from from challenging conversations or from really seeking truth. There’s a few there’s a few things that few examples that that go against that but generally speaking, that’s what I’ve seen especially accelerated since the beginning of CO It is alternative perspectives to the mainstream the mainstream have have coalesced around certain narratives, and alternative perspectives, like anti vaccine, for example, or questioning lockdown, scepticism, or all of these things, which I think I think all of these, all of these perspectives should be investigated or should be part of the conversation. But I think the system is broken down in terms of interrogating them, until the marketplace of ideas only works if those ideas are challenged, and interrogated. Whereas I see all of these, all of these kind of conspiracy minded podcasts or anti vaccine podcast that there’s no incentive for them to challenge the people they get on. But they can get on people who are challenging these things. And suddenly, they’ll get up to like 1,000,002 million, 3 million views, because they’re offering something the mainstream is not offering. But the the function of actually check of actually interrogating information or checking information is breaking down almost completely, because there’s no incentive structure for them to challenge things. And so you just what I’m seeing happen is these ecosystems of belief and ecosystems of truth that just don’t interact with each other in any meaningful way. And that I think, is really dangerous. And that’s ultimately, me, my, my friend, and like, amazing polymath thinker, Daniel shmack, Tim Berger talks about, he’s deeply interested in existential risk is deeply interested in all of these different factors that kind of may lead to human extinction, and are the biggest problems in the world. And he’s now focused in on the problem of sensemaking as being the fundamental one, that if we cannot solve that we cannot solve any of the others. Because we cannot, we cannot even think about coordinating to deal with climate change or, and any other problem, even COVID. Because the fragmentation of the information landscape means that there, we can’t agree, even masks, even lockdown, even the vaccines are leading to huge fragmentation, and different truth bubbles. And if we can’t fix that, if we can’t agree on what is true, then we can’t agree on what we even need to do about any of the problems. Because half the people don’t even believe that they’re the right problems, or that they’re, that you’re being lied to by the establishment or whatever. I mean, it’s the most fundamental thing that needs to be dealt with before we move on to any of the other issues.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah, it’s it personally, is very refreshing for me to hear that because too often and I, I, myself have been, you know, swept up in things on the on the Internet of Things. I don’t think there’s anybody who listened to this podcast who is not at one point been swept up in, in in a while this person sounds like me, I can relate with them, and off we go. And then I listen to them more and more and more. And, and then all of a sudden that bubble cracks and and then I suddenly realised our there wasn’t one big thing. There wasn’t one, you know that. We seem to be very scared of complexity at the moment that we like to reduce things a previous podcast guest of mine, Rod Griffis challenged me with the question, what’s the opposite of complexity? And his answer is reducing things as opposed to simplicity. And so I get I get wary nowadays of trying to reduce things but but it’s so refreshing to hear learned people like Daniel, come back to sensemaking. And because I

 

David Fuller 

just don’t like complexity point. Before we move on. One thing you might be you might find useful to clarify that is, yeah, Dave Snowden and a few others who talk about complexity theory say I wouldn’t. They summarise summarise it as a kind of aphorism. But what you want is the simplicity on the other side of complexity. That, who was said I wouldn’t? I wouldn’t give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity. But I would give my life the simplicity on the other side of complexity. Yeah.

 

 

Is that the difference between simplicity and simplification?

 

David Fuller 

Yes. But there’s a pre trans fallacy with complete with simplicity.

 

Bryn Edwards 

But I guess the point I was trying to get to was that in, in a world in a reduced world, were constantly bombarded with sales and marketing of if you just do this one thing, then everything will be all right. And this one thing and then you’ll have washboard abs or whatever, and we see over and over and over again, on online marketing. To actually come to a place where we can truthful Go and go, right this is actually a core fundamental issue if we can get into the sense making our individual sense making, let alone our collective sense making, then maybe we’ve got a chance, then maybe we can move forwards. Because I think if anything, you know, the, we’ve got off pretty lightly in terms of lockdowns here in Western Australia, we had one last year more of a stay at home period. And then we had a five day lockdown. And, lo and behold, soon as our premier said, something bang, everyone’s in supermarkets, buying toilet rolls, and, and it’s just like, you know, and, and then, you know, we end up with the, the multipolar, multipolar trap, where it’s like, well, I do need to want my art, and we are pretty low. So I’m gonna have to go as well now, so everybody gets dragged into it, and then you stand there and you just go, shit, we’ve got no chance. If we can’t even get get our shit together, over toilet roll. And it wasn’t even like our premier said that the supermarkets were closing or anything we can go. So. So to Yeah, to to, to actually sit down and actually have a conversation and focus on our own sense making I mean, to be transparent with with listeners, I have just finished going through the rebel wisdom, eight, we explore exploration into my own sense making. And it’s been nothing short of I don’t want to use crappy words like awesome, but it’s been quite changing life changing more than any personal development, personal development style course. Because as we got to, in our discussions, the way we make sense of the word is possibly the most intimate thing we can do. Because, and to share that with somebody else to talk about how we make sense of the world, because it’s it opens up the opportunity to look stupid, like we don’t know what we’re doing. And like we’ve been winging it and making it up. And the truth is that we’re all wired that, but to actually sit down and say, I really don’t know how to make sense of this, I don’t know what to do was an amazing, amazing weight off to be able to just talk about that. And to talk about how confusing the world can be and how confusing the media is, which is why I was so very keen to talk to you now. Mm

 

 

hmm.

 

 

So,

 

Bryn Edwards 

yes. Can’t talk myself into a corner.

 

David Fuller 

Yeah, I mean, I wonder whether it might be fruitful to just talk about the because because that that course in a way was structured around I mean, the conversation that we’re having is mirrors that in a way because it goes from inner to outer. Yeah. Which is why I think I was on a clubhouse event the other day talking about the problem of journalism, the problem of sense making. And when it came to the end, we were talking about solutions. And this was where the This was where the guy called Andrew Moran’s who is a New Yorker journalists sort of very straight down the line, traditional media guy, and I kind of felt like, I’m going to get a little bit woo here, or I’m going to assume that it’s getting a little bit because my solution, effectively the solution was, I don’t see how you get away from a personal growth, psychological angle to this, but you have to become more aware of it of how you’re being manipulated by yourself. Like effectively. It’s not just it’s not just that you’re being manipulated by big forces beyond your control, even though you are Yeah, there’s there’s Stanford engineers, there’s a department at Stanford University called cap topology where the entire and that and they have trained a lot of the the key people within Silicon Valley catch ology literally, like how do you capture people, and they look at slot machines, they look at kind of all of these tactics from casinos of like, when you when you open Twitter or you open social media, and it’s kind of it waits for a little while before it tells you how many notifications you’ve got. And that’s from slot machines. That’s a way of kind of keeping you dialling, dialling UNC keep coming back. There’s the little thing where you’re on WhatsApp or you’re on any other messenger and it’s, it shows you the three little dots when someone’s tapping. that’s keeping you that’s keeping your attention there as well. All of these things are incredibly well designed and well engineered to keep your attention. But at the same time, you have to be aware of what it is in you that’s being hooked into that. So you are, you are being manipulated, but you are also manipulating yourself. And that’s what they’re getting you to do. And then the other the other aspect of it is, how is it changing the way that we’re communicating when we’re communicating for an audience? I think one of the big problems is that so much of our communication now is, is done based on what we think other people want to see. Yes, so much of it becomes performative. So much of it becomes virtue signalling, so much of it becomes, like, I think what I fear is that, especially for the younger generation, we’re opening up this yawning gap between what people actually believe and what they are professing to believe online. And I think a lot of people don’t necessarily even know, they don’t know what their true beliefs are. They don’t know what their true feelings are. Because what we’ve established is, there are certain things that it’s okay to say online, there are certain doubts that it’s not okay to express, there are certain beliefs that are not okay to express and were removed. And because there’s a permanent record of everyone’s thought, we’re removing the opportunity for people to even learn to be wrong to say something that may not be perfectly expressed that may not be politically correct, even as a process of expressing it and then potentially changing your mind in the future. But this is the thing that is really concerning. And I mean, I consider myself probably in the top, certainly the top cohort of people who have the ability to express myself and feel like I’m a trained journalist, I’ve been writing stuff for 20 years. And there are still things that I feel uncomfortable about expressing on social media, probably less and less To be honest, as I’ve increasingly blotted my copybook in various places and moulded myself to be Yeah, show myself to be an unreliable in terms of my I, my adherence to the current, current dominant ideology, but at the same time, like these, this sort of sense of the hollowing out of, of, of who we are and what we are, and this sort of this systematic hijacking of our worst aspect, our narcissism, our performativity, our tribal in group ish, nurse, like all of that is, is incredibly damaging to society. And I think it’s why we are all sensing that we were in these kind of traps. This sort of sense of like, yeah, which crap cryptology works, and we’re now capture,

 

Bryn Edwards 

we’re at a place now where I was only saying this to a friend today, I feel like thanks to COVID, or the impact of I feel like I’ve been severed from my past, almost even even the past of what it was doing what I was doing in January of last year, before things got to where they are, but and everything before I feel like we were severed from the past. We’re at a place where there are no, there’s uncertainty about the future. There are no major ideologies to buy into, even on a bigger bigger scale. And so they’re so the, the future How can we plan for the future? How can we buy into and congregate and collect around and act together? If there is nothing there? And yeah, I’m stuck in this ever evolving present, where I’ve been individualised. And on top of that, we have this I’m going to use the word predatory technology, which encourages, like you said, the worst of humanity used narcissism. Unless remember that, you know, NASAs died because he fell in love with his shadow. There is no shadow, his reflection. And, and yeah, we’re heading for huge existential crisis because we’re putting this stuff out, but we don’t really know who we are. Part of that means that we need to have space to explore who we are, fuck up and say it right and wrong sometimes and change our point of view and real time learning. And that’s been one of the great things that we’ve done in our actual real time pod discussions during the show. spreadsheet. But we feel like we’re almost stuck in this. Now list, Groundhog Day nihilist emotionally hijacked Groundhog Day,

 

David Fuller 

because there is no path that’s part of the game. This we had a great interview with Tristan Harris, where he said, that’s part of the game that social media plays is that it gives us more of what we already know and what we already think. Because that’s ultimately what we are, we have to deliberately steer into discomfort otherwise. And we don’t like doing that we don’t like finding out that we were wrong about something we don’t like finding out that the people that we’ve grown to love to hate actually might have a point about certain things, which is why on the sensemaking course, we’ve got the reverse media diet. Yeah, they deliberately expose yourself to the other side or things that you wouldn’t normally see. So it’s Tristan Harris said, effectively, where, what is the incentive structure of social media is that if they give you more of what you already know, that keeps you coming back, that’s how we’re wired. So we have to make a deliberate effort to steer away from that. And if you’re right, so effectively, it is it is a groundhog day we are we are stuck in a self reinforcing feedback loop and filter bubble of what we already believe. As Daniel Trachtenberg says in one of the films that we put out, if you’re a Trump supporting kind of farmer for example, from Texas, your your Facebook feed is probably full of people disrespecting cops. Constantly. Yeah, whereas if you’re in Oakland or Brooklyn, your your feed is probably full of black people being assaulted with cops continually. And you’re getting traumatised, remotely traumatised by that to the point where you want to get out and express yourself. Like and these these realities are simultaneously existing. And there’s no way that they’re coming together anymore.

 

 

Hmm.

 

Bryn Edwards 

This is where, because if even if you sit with this at this point, it is quite depressing. Quite despairing, isn’t it?

 

 

And,

 

Bryn Edwards 

you know, you talked, you talked about going into the war saniana. This is where part of it and I and I questioned myself as to whether this is brings hope playing out. But there’s part of me that just has to let go at this point to the greater human spirit and hope that you know, I’m talking about something possibly bigger than consciousness that seems to be when I say conscious, I’m talking the bigger consciousness consciousness as in what’s getting hijacked right now, the top end of our conscious experience, that there’s a bigger part in consciousness that will at some point, push back and go right enough’s enough. And, you know, I in last week’s podcast, and more, more and more on now, point four is the hypothesis that we’re the canary birds in the mineshaft, that, that mental health, increased depressions, anxiety, and suicide is an appropriate response to what’s going on. It’s not a failure in the human. It’s a failure in what’s going on around us. Where do you see it playing?

 

David Fuller 

Yeah, I mean, I think America is further down that. That path. I mean, it’s very easy to make an anti capitalist argument. Yeah. And I, I have sympathy with that. But I think it’s a narrow, I think it’s an it’s too narrow. Because, ultimately, so what we’re talking about with sensemaking, that’s effectively the source code that we’re running. spits sped up by Silicon Valley utopianism and Silicon Valley, kind of weightless, hyper capitalist expansion libertarianism, but effectively the source code. I don’t think it’s ultimately I don’t think it’s ultimately just an anti capitalist point. But you can look at it you can say, well, it’s the drug companies. It’s the it’s the opioid crisis. It’s all of these kinds of ways of numbing ourselves. Addiction is addiction and all of these different forms and addiction is a very profitable thing, yes, but what it’s feeding on, I think is a fundamental dislocation. And it’s a spiritual religious dislocation. It’s, it’s a, it’s a concept of humanity as only being it’s a very limited conception of humanity. It’s very limited conception of the world that reduces everything down to only what can be measured and what can be exploited. That, for me is not fundamentally a capitalist thing. It’s it’s about this sort of split in the philosophical worldview that underpins it, that dates back 300 400 500 years, like, the free market as a thing, I think, is the is one of the things that has the potential to generate some of the solutions that we’re looking for. But there is a there is a worldview. That, yeah, there’s a reductive worldview that I think can only be shifted by a much deeper spiritual transformation in the way that we conceive of ourselves and the way that we effectively the illusion of separation, yes, because we can only really exploit the world when we believe ourselves to be fundamentally separate from it. But we can only actually have that experience of connection. We can talk about it and other people talk about it without actually feeling it without actually experiencing it. But I think once we’ve really experienced it, and once we’ve really aligned ourselves to that principle, and that, that felt experience of connection, I think it fundamentally changes the way we’re able to act in the world and how we, yeah, how we behave. But we have a whole set of institutions, and industries that are built on that previous worldview in that previous model.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Hmm. Yeah. And it’s only at that point, where can we find new ideologies to emerge from within us?

 

David Fuller 

or hopefully not ideologies?

 

Bryn Edwards 

We’re sorry, poor choice of words. Yeah, because I’ve been starting to really play with this idea of allowing things to emerge, both, not just individually. But what are the conditions to allow that collectively, and, and it was mulling around in my head before reading the work of Tyson young reporter, and then more so coming on the sensemaking? Cause? And I’m getting more and more curious around what are the conditions that bring that around? Obviously, now, we’re now into collective sense making.

 

 

Huh?

 

 

Where does?

 

Bryn Edwards 

Where does someone go from here? First Steps basic steps other than sign up and coming, dive into an eight week course with rebel wisdom? Where can someone go to start to regain a little bit of their agency and start to reduce the confusion and disorientation because we’ve gone right to the bottom of the rabbit hole almost there before? Yeah,

 

David Fuller 

I mean, I, I’d say that, for me, like the beginning of rebel wisdom was was quite intertwined with the films that I made about Jordan Peterson. Yeah. And I still think that Jordan Peterson a lot of his work offers a real, like, it’s very practical, it’s kind of pay attention to your resentments. clean your room, pay attention to the words that you’re speaking. And that, that I think, is definitely a key part of making sense of the world is is is trying to establish a relationship with yourself that is based on truth, and to be able to perceive viscerally and intuitively when you’re speaking the truth. And when you’re not. and developing that felt sense. And we talk as well in in the sense making course we use a process called inquiry, which is when you start to kind of build that felt relationship and then try and follow the thread or whatever wants to infer on unfold within you and then also in dialogue with others like that, that I think is a key. If we’re going to start building we have to start where we are, hmm, like a thing, all of these grand visions for fixing the inflammation ecology and like they’re great and I I’m really interested in that topic. But ultimately, I think the nature of decentralise media and the nature of the shift from broadcast to display centralised means that we all have to do the work. And I think the work has to start there, it has to start with, what are the things. And again, I come back, I think Jordan Peterson articulated it incredibly well, I know a lot of people probably have a block with, with him the personality. But I think if you look at what he was actually saying, like he was, he was framing a lot of timeless wisdom in a really compelling and well articulated way. But pay attention to the things that you know, that you should do that you’re not doing. start developing a relationship with the inner conscience and the part of yourself that that knows, start to feel into whether you’re speaking the truth, and whether you aren’t like build up that relationship in yourself. And that has to be the fundamental learn when you’re using language to exploit and when you’re using language to express look at the things that you’re not saying the things that you’re not articulating, you’re afraid to, and, and start to start to do that. Learn whether people are having a relationship with the, with your persona, or with your with the person that you really are. Because if they’re having a relationship with your persona, or or with the person you’re pretending to be, the personality that you’re articulating to the world isn’t really who you are. That’s a very hollow place to be. Yeah. And I think that fundamentally, we get we’re now getting back to I think, a big part of the the depression and the anxiety, the mental health crisis is because I think a lot of people are not who they are. They’re pretending to be something. And that’s a very depressing thing to be very anxiety producing place to be when you’re constantly pretend. And it’s fucking exhausting, if you’re trying to be if you’re consciously pretending to be something that you’re not. And I think we’re in a, we’re in a world where we’re encouraged all the time to pretend to be something that we’re not, by this, get there to do this. And it’s all we’ve entire industries based off exploiting that gap between who we are and who we want to be. And so fundamentally, that process of cleaning our internal room, and articulating to the best of our abilities, starts to start to do that work. And I think there’s an awful lot of work that we all have to do. And it’s an ongoing process. Like I would never, I don’t think any of us would ever say like, we’ve we’ve done that we’ve made it but I certainly feel personally further along that route than I than I was 1020 years ago. But it’s an ongoing thing. It’s, it’s it’s an ever it’s an ever increasing task, I guess.

 

Bryn Edwards 

Yeah. It’s not it’s it’s Yeah, ongoing maintenance. It’s being human doing life. Yeah. Hmm. Great stuff. So the last question I ask all my guests, which is a hypothetical one, I always enjoyed finding out what they what the answer is, is that if I could just slow everyone down for five or 10 minutes, and then David could just upload a question into the collective consciousness. So everyone just sat quietly and thought about that? What would it be?

 

David Fuller 

A few things that come to mind. One of which is how do I know? How do I know what is true? One of which would be Am I whose life Am I leading? What are the things that I know that I should do that I’m not doing?

 

 

I can only give you one question, which one are you going with?

 

David Fuller 

And probably the last one cuz it’s more practical. We, we, we run we’ve run in person retreats, and obviously the we’ve got a digital campfire where we do different kinds of exercises and processes and one of them like we’re always looking for questions like that we give to a group to think about, and we try and avoid ones that take people up into their head. Like you shouldn’t, you should look for a question that’s not this embodied. That’s not purely propositional. But you don’t want to question that you give to someone where they’re just, it just sends them into a like, laundry list of things. What you want is one that really gets people to wrestle with something meaningful like you’re trying to engage the full person So we often work with the shadow or we work with vulnerability. And yeah, we we try and take, take people out of the conceptual but wonder whether that question is, is going to do that or not? Maybe you could say, What do I? What do I feel? What is my conscience telling me that I’m not doing? What I should be

 

 

like it.

 

Bryn Edwards 

spin them. It’s been an interesting conversation far ranging.

 

 

I

 

David Fuller 

kind of went all over the place, but it did.

 

 

It did.

 

 

It did, it did.

 

Bryn Edwards 

But at the same time,

 

 

this

 

Bryn Edwards 

this isn’t a straightforward topic. And even bringing in the word sensemaking, I found is it to me it’s been paradoxical, because as much as I would like to, you know, get my arms around it and be able to articulate it. So I can make sense of it to myself and to others, you know, as you bring a subject into the object. The moment you think you’ve all that’s great, you can articulate something the next minute, off it goes. And so whilst this may have been a disorientated conversation at one point, I think there’s actually the last even emergent thread in it once I go back and write

 

 

it again.

 

David Fuller 

outside.

 

 

Which,

 

 

yeah, but then again,

 

 

no one, open the

 

Bryn Edwards 

conversation up again, too often, I find that people want to go into a conversation with a specific agenda and a specific outcome. And they don’t allow something to become far ranging and go from here to there and allow emergence to occur. And sometimes that’s tidy, and sometimes that’s not tidy. And I think I’ve learned to become unapologetic for that. I don’t know how that sits with you, David.

 

David Fuller 

Yeah, never apologise never explained. Indeed.

 

Bryn Edwards 

So if people want to find you, obviously, they can go to YouTube and rebel wisdom.com.

 

David Fuller 

Yeah, go to rebel wisdom. The website, we’ve kind of relaunched a little while ago, it’s quite easy. I probably direct people there because the films are arranged by kind of category and a slightly better way than on YouTube. So check that out. It’s also got links to all the other things that we’re doing. So check it out.

 

Bryn Edwards 

I guess if you’re locally here in Western Australia and inclined to to go on the sensemaking caused by all means reach out and I can provide more insight.

 

David Fuller 

Yeah, that was a really cool thing that you did to have a little cohort of people who did it together. So that’s,

 

Bryn Edwards 

yeah, that’s really cool. Very special. David, thank you very much for your time.

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