Hyper-normalisation

Updated: Mar 21

As a kid I had a difficult time understanding the meaning of “indifference”, especially because I could not relate it to anything I remotely felt myself or saw around. How can it possibly happen that something happened and you just don’t respond to it, you nullify it, ignore it’s existence and just carry forward with whatever you were doing. As a kid, I was puzzled.

It’s funny how things have turned around the other way as I stepped into adulthood. People are indifferent to things or other people around to unbelievable extents. Everyone is consumed in their own little world, mostly centered around themselves. They believe they are having their own lives in their own ways, as if they control them (independently). We often forget that we are living as a part of a huge system. A system containing subsystems within it. A system that decides what is right , what is wrong, what is allowed and what is not. Pondering? Let me explain.

When you were newly born, you were free. Free from rules, biases, ethics, values everything. Then you started growing up, you were put in a societal construct, your family extended to society became the first system. The system that taught you to “respect the elders”, “knock before you enter”, “follow traffic lights” etc. The ways to operate, labelling rights and wrongs. Often these are driven by cultural beliefs. In patriarchy system, you may often learn how you should act, based on your gender, tough or tender etc.

No doubt that someday you might become aware of these incorporated biases and tend to mend your thinking, becoming more open and liberal around the ideas/values that reside in your head. It’s great to do this and most of us would have experienced a drift in what we used to believe and what we are believing, this starts to happen especially when you are put “out” of the system you were previously part of i.e. say you went abroad or got into a hostel. It depends on exposure.

Throughout your life you surf through these systems, school, college, offices and all the rooms filled with an air of regulation. Is it truly possible to escape out of all the systems, at any point in time in one’s life? If you can grow over your need of belongingness and normality, maybe you can. But what’s the problem? Why is being in the system a problem at all?

While system has it’s own set of advantages like organisation and a state of lawfulness, they tend to grow over you.

As you follow by its rules, you become a part of it.

You start seeing what system allows you to and you start listening what system permits. This, my friends, is a problem, a rather big one.

When your eyes and ears are not functioning at their normal limits you are unable to spot what is wrong, what needs to change and what can be improved. One can never question if the system itself needs to change? You become indifferent to issues that must be your primary concern.

We call this a state of Hypernormalisation i.e. you are so much a part of the system that it’s impossible to see beyond it.

Reference: Adam Curtis’s Documentary




Enough of real world instances, how about our digital lives? Internet is free, we like to believe we have no systems up there, in the air, eh?

Sadly, NO.

The same thing is happening with us today when all of us are hooked on social medias. Unlike real life buildings and a book of law, we still have a system, a soft one, constructed by the developers, where they have defined the rules of the system. Rules like, you can forward a message , delete a message, you’d be able to see how many people liked you or how many follow you. You’d be allowed to share snippets from your life but they decide it can be up there for only one day. Apart from the functionality based rules, several new etiquettes and “acceptable” behaviors have also evolved. For example, it’s rude if you leave a message at seen (“seen” a mere feature added by developer), it’s a deal breaker when you don’t reciprocate them tagging you by you tagging them. Feels related? All along, we have been playing along this system imposed by the tech world. This system led to creation of new languages, emojis, ways of expressing, ways to show concern and memories. Everyone has consumed what this system had to offer and they became “forever” members of it, members who never log outof the system. We are so much attuned to this digital system, we love being here!

But guess what, unlike most of the systems which have evolved naturally, the creation of this system is driven by highly capitalistic motives. You being part of it is important to them, it drives their money. You can say it’s true about other systems like schools as well, but the amount of money involved in both sectors is beyond compare. Tech industry is highly lucrative and equally powerful. As the primary motives of these digital medias is not to benefit people but rather widespread “surveillance capitalism”, it’s rules and ways are highly questionable. But look around who’s questioning it? You travel in a bus or tour around the city, what do you see? People engaged by their purely crystalline cocaine assets, maybe sharing that story or responding to that instant ping. All of us appear hooked to our digital assets.

Amongst all the systems we discussed above, this one, the digital system seems to be most addictive and unescapable.

Unescapable because internet is everywhere and mobile is now your extended body part.

You’re practically a receptor, wherever you’d go you’d receive and consume information (relevant/irrelevant) and loads of it. Why is it this way? Because this digital system, unlike others is “addictive by design”. Getting instant hit of dopamine on seeing a hundred likes or never clicking log out, these are not behaviours that just happened to happen, they have been and still being skillfully designed in the ways that can hook you to the system. Because they never want you to leave. They need your data, your time and you as a consumer to feed on the breadth of information, which they make sure, reaches you through those instant notifications.

I don’t believe it’s a “fair” system, we have a long way before we reach anywhere close to it. We need to think through it, drop our digital assets aside, open those eyes and ears and revolt. But look around who’s doing it? Majority of us are just indifferent.

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