Modern technology has us all convinced that we are more important than we are; that networks are proper surrogates for deeds. People measure their worth in the number of followers or page hits that they have, and no longer view themselves objectively through the lens of accomplishment. This false empowerment leads to a self-induced psychopathy at worst and an equally self-induced narcissism at best. We are witnessing a young generation feeding into their own echo chamber, in which their thoughts are amplified but no actual deed is created.
If you haven’t read Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, you really should. It tells the tale of a kingdom facing ruin from a devastating plague, holding its valued citizens in relative safety within the walls of its castle. There, they eventually hold a great costume party where all are hidden behind masks. The masquerade ends with the unveiling of one of its participants: the red death itself. A modern reimagining of this classic could be framed in terms of identity politics, where each member of some “sacred” group is forced to wear a mask to appear pure to the larger mass. The coming end will be revealed once the mask falls and everyone realizes that no one actually cares about each member of the political alliance; that it was effectively a charade of deception. Forced purity and the coming ruin is the focus of this post.