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What's going on between us?

© Sérgio Spritzer, 2021.

What is happening between us, exclaims almost in unison a couple in therapy. They clash over seemingly irrelevant things and they know it. But they don't know how to define or how to solve the situation. The challenge is for each to understand how each other imagines and then to let each other know. then represent the imagined situation in a common way, as if they were with representations of themselves projected in front of them, interacting with each other and verifying which relational patterns appear to them in common and which relational patterns appear only in the imagination of one and not the other.

When people start to imagine what they want to express and how the other understands what they express, the relationship changes. The change of each one does not guarantee the change of the relationship. But it offers possibilities. This does not always solve the initial demand of both. But it repositions what they can or cannot achieve together from the way they perceive each other. Initially people, whether they are people seeking therapy or life guidance, couples, groups and teams, come with very selfish demands. I want me.... Or I want him/her... Or: I want them (the collaborators)....

I rarely get people wanting to really examine their relationship with themselves and with others. The perception of the human relationship as a phenomenon is complicated. Culturally we reduce the examination of a relationship to the examination of a physical thing or a certain physical behavior of oneself or someone else. Most of us do not develop a composite or relational way of examining reality. We are culturally split between an inside and an outside. And we are compelled to take sides. Inside or outside. Right or left. Binary choices. The problem as we will see [is that we are not binary. We learn to be like that in order to use the machines we produce, but we are not essentially like that. On the contrary, we are much more beings that create analogies, not so much measurement, classifications and categories.

“I never stopped to think about it!” reflect people when they item insights-insights that change the way they think and act. I ironically: And what would it be like to think, without stopping? The client laughs and complains that he doesn't have time to think about the things he does, and this has affected his quality of life in virtually every dimension. Note that others spend their lives “chasing the machine”.

Running after what machine? I ask. The students present look at each other and after talking for a while they agree that everyone, without exception, strives to offer a better life for themselves, the people dear to them, but they realize that in this journey they suffer and lose the very quality of what they do, be it that, work, study, coexistence, sleep, food and so on. They don't have time to live, living.

There is an imaginary machine in the personal and collective mind that presses people to do faster and more things in less time. They cannot stop to think about what they want, much less what they do. The result obviously cannot be what you want.

Making people think in a coherent way and being able to take positions and talk about how to do it is the urgent demand of the contemporary era, which pressures us to do without thinking, like the “just do it”, the “buy it now”; "Subscribe now"; “last vacancies”, “don't leave it to the last minute” - a paradoxical appeal to do something with a sense of urgency, blaming the person for not doing it Now, once and for all. Everything seems to be urgent to be done and the human relationship, the interaction with the facts and with the experience seems outside this type of culture focused on unbridled and irrational consumption.

Stop to think. We are losing the quality of our interactions in favor of irrational consumption and, examining the background of this, we imagine ourselves victims of a supposed interaction between machines. A reflective examination can make us realize (stop and think) that we are automated like stupid robots consuming what lies ahead without putting human relationships and coexistence in the foreground. Evidently, living through this bias, we serve as consumables for machine algorithms, being imaginary they are the ones that “dominate” and consume us. It is an imaginary that, like a prophecy, if not examined, is self-fulfilling. But do not need be like that. The spell of creation of machines turning against the sorcerer. Or the creature turning against its creator as in fiction films from Dr. Frankstein's monster and Isaac Asimov's Robot Revolt, Blade Runner's android hunter, etc. But that says more about how human relationships are than the relationship between machines. And that might be different.

Human interaction has become increasingly complex and challenging since the dawn of civilization. Every technological revolution is followed by a revolution in human relationships, implying our way of understanding ourselves and our relationships, including with the world itself.

Understanding human interactions and forming a coherent representation of reality has gained scale as we enter industrial society and even more so with the high-tech revolution represented by the internet. From the way of perceiving within the digital society, it seems imminent that human relationships will lose their place to the automatisms of machines. And even more: that at best there will be intelligent machines that will take our place.

The idea that we are a kind of self-programming cybernetic supercomputer has thrived from the “machine revolution” as I call the industrial revolution to the high-tech digital revolution, the so-called digital age, that we are living through so far. . It is giving way to another revolution, also technological, but this time by analogical ways of thinking supported, yes, by high technologies of the new generation.

We talk a lot about the internet of things with the advent of 5G transmission speed and soon 6G. But still few have the horizon of what can be called a society with communication technology, internet, focused on people, for human interaction. An internet of people not one focused on things. That would indeed be a revolution of our collective consciousness. In it, the focus will not be on the contents of the information and on the instrumental work, but on the people and the quality of human relationships. Not doing relational.


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