Keys to Understanding Our Times: From Identity to Attention to Reality

Uploaded 4/27/2023, approx. 32 minute read

In the middle of the day in North Macedonia, Vaknin, you wine-o. Wake up!

So the video you're about to see is really, really complicated. I'm going to introduce it to you now. I'm going to summarize it, make the points in it concise. And clear.

And then if you want to see the elaboration of these points, the historical proofs, the various angles, the synoptic view, look it up.

Then keep on watching if you are sufficiently self-hating and self-loading.

And now, to my cabernet souvenir. Bye-bye, everyone!

Okay, okay, I was just kidding.

My name is Sam Vaknin, I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissist Revisited, you know the drill.

I am a former visiting professor of psychology.

So I'm going to provide you with yet another key to deciphering human history.

I've been doing this repeatedly. There are videos on this channel and on my Vaknin Musings channel, which try to use specific keywords and specific characteristics and dimensions to provide a decoding of human history, the evolution.

So today, another one.

And I think there's an interplay between identity, attention and reality. This interplay would seem to explain the vast majority of human history.

Start with urbanization.

Urbanization led to the rise of the author and the original.

When people congregated in hundreds of thousands and then millions, in the virtual reality that was the city, the city was the first virtual reality.

Urbanization led to the need to be seen.

In the village, everyone knows everyone. Everyone is seen by multiple people. Everyone is everyone's business.

But in a city, you're anonymous, you're alienated, you're estranged even from yourself. It doesn't need to be noticed. It doesn't need to be attended to.

There's a craving for affection and compassion.

So urbanization forced people to try to stand out from the crowd to differentiate themselves, brand me.

So that was the rise of the author and the original.

And then 300 years ago, we started with intellectual property. Intellectual property, patents, copyrights. Intellectual property was a remedy.

It came about because of reproduction, mechanical reproduction.

You see, for thousands of years, authors were identified with their creations. And their creations were largely original.

To reproduce an original, to replicate it, you needed to be a monk working laboriously in a monastery. You remember the name of the rose? The stunning picture, stunning movie with the late Sean Comrie. That was the way that works of art and books were reproduced.

But then mechanical reproduction happened. Gutenberg with the press, with the mobile press, other inventions.

There was a blurring of the line between original and copy.

Is the first book printed the original and book number 200 the copy? Or are they all the same? With a blurring of the line between original copy, there was a problem with authorship.

And intellectual property was a solution.

The problem was that there was a dramatic reduction in the marginal cost of making copies.

So authors needed to assert themselves. They needed to regain control over the hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of copies of their original work.

Walter Benjamin wrote a stunning essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. It was published in 1935.

And he proposed and explained in this piece of cultural criticism that mechanical reproduction devalued the aura, the uniqueness of the objet d'art, of the creative object.

And so identity, the identity of the author, became a big business.

I mentioned patents, copyrights, brands. And the most recent extension of this is non-fungible tokens, NFTs, using which use or leverage blockchain legends, distributed legends, as well as centralized records, vouch for identity and guarantee it.

To this very day, to this very second, we are obsessed with identity, with asserting ourselves as the sole authors of our own specific creations.

But there were other trends, simultaneous with identity formation, identity guaranteeing of identity, and vouching for identity.

Identity was big business, but there were other trends.

You see, digital goods, digital goods made all the difference because they can be reproduced at zero marginal cost. The cost of copying an electronic book is very close to zero.

And in this sense, electronic goods, digital goods, are non-riverous. In other words, if you produce 10 and if you produce 10 million, the cost is the same and there's no competition. You can produce as many as you want with a click of a button.

And this shifted the focus of attention from manufacturing and identity to attention and discoverability.

The easier it was, the easier it became to replicate, reproduce and copy, the more difficult it was to guarantee and garner the attention of potential consumers and users.

If you print 100,000 books a year, it's hard enough to find the qualitative ones in the mountain of printed books. That's 100,000.

But today, in a typical year, there are three to five million books published.

How are you going to tell the qualitative ones from the trash?

This is the problem of discoverability.

And so, this issue, how to tell apart quality from non-quality, gems from trash, the helpful from the unhelpful, the useful from the useless, this problem shifted the focus from identity to attention. This attention became very important.

Everyone who writes a book and publishes it can establish his or her identity.

Today, technology has rendered each and every one of us a publisher, a film director and a creator. There are no gatekeepers like editors anymore. Everything has been disintermediated. There's no mediation. Everything is direct, author to audience, filmmaker to public. Nothing stands in between. No studios, no editors, no newspapers, no gatekeepers.

So, millions of books, billions of videos are competing for our attention. Our attention became commoditized and commodified. It's the coinage of the realm.

So, to garner the attention, to harvest attention, there are two processes, interpolation, targeted advertising, and monetizing eyeballs, monetizing attention via aggregation of big data attention, demographics of attention.

And I described this or analyzed it in the continuation of the video.

Attention is the name of the game. Identity was the name of the game until 20 years ago. Attention is the name of the game now.

Because attention became a kind of money, kind of storage of value, value store, because of that, it engendered self-sufficient, disintermediated atomization. We became lonely.

Attention was diverted to a social online pursuits. It impaired reality testing.

Let me explain these big words to you.

You have a limited attention. It's a resource. There is scarcity of attention. If you pay attention to Facebook, you don't have enough time and attention to pay to your boyfriend, or to your husband, or to your children.

So Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, social media in general, compete with your husband, with your lover, with your spouse, with your intimate partner, with your children, with your neighbors, with your colleagues, with your friends. They want you to be isolated.

These social media platforms want you to not have intimacy. They want you to be reliant on them. They want to harvest your eyeballs. They want to obtain 100% of your attention so that nothing is left for other people.

So people begin to drift apart.

The famous cat lady with her Netflix is the epitome of modern existence.

Identity and now the attention economy.

What's next?

Next is reality. The next frontiers are reality, real estate and commodified, but idiosyncratic reality menus, also known as multiverses.

Collaborative virtual realities are going to supplant physical ones, and reality substitutes, anything from sex dolls to intimacy apps, they're going to proliferate.

We are going to give up our reality. We're going to outsource it. We're going to farm it out. We're going to surrender it to high-tech giants.

And these high-tech giants are going to monopolize our reality and are going to sell us artificial reality, virtual reality, simulated reality.

High-tech giants now switched from attention to reality. That's the next big market.

They're going to take over reality and redefine it for us, customize it for us. We're going to inhabit the metaverse, survive in it.

The next frontier, the next stage, is in real life artificial intelligence.

It will displace people as friends, advisors, interlocutors, lovers, service providers. Artificial intelligence will free people up to construct online simulations and inhabit them.

But artificial intelligence will also force the introduction of mandatory digital identities. Hopefully based on blockchain rather than government regulation.

And these are the topics of today's video.

Wherever I say multiverse, I actually mean metaverse. Apologies for the Freudian slip. Have fun, enjoy yourselves, and drink red wine. It's good for you and it's good for vineyards.

This possibly is the most confusing period, periods in human history.

All the previous organizing principle, the previous exegetic, hermeneutic, explanatory principles, principles that helped us to interpret reality, make sense of it, imbue it with meaning, direction, goals, and purpose. All these are dead. Religions are dead. Ideologies are bankrupt. The belief in each other is shattered. Trust is ruined. Genders are at war. Families are ripped asunder. Communities, churches, politics, even the Supreme Court of the United States has dipped below 50% trust.

So we are confounded and confused and bedazzled and puzzled and flabbergasted.

And I can continue with a very long list of synonyms and yet not capture the state of mind that we are all in.

It is like living in a surrealistic nightmare that never ends and from which you cannot awaken.

And yet there is order in this chaos.

I provided several keys in my previous videos, in other videos, and I recommend that you watch them if you will.

But today I'm going to provide another key.

I'm going to describe transitions between three phases in human history.

Transitions have a lot to do with reality, how we perceive it and why or why are we so befuddled, so confused, so out of whack and so terrified.

Anxiety disorders and depression have never been higher in the general population.

Mental illness is becoming the norm, actually. There's never been a period so evil, so dark and so bad.

And yes, I am aware of the Second World War and the Black Death in the 14th century.

And yet during these periods, during these horrible periods, during these dark penumbral moments of human history, people still had something they could believe in.

They believed in God, they believed in the church, they believed in communities, they believed in patriotism, they believed in politicians even, believe it or not. They believed in Walter Cronkite, they believed in the media, in the mainstream media.

It was naive, of course it was, but it was comforting.

And today we are atomized, we are nodes in an infinite network, trying to stand apart, trying to be noticed, trying to survive.

Each one a recluse in an alcove with Netflix, two cats and a pizza delivery man or woman.

This is not a way to live, it's a way to survive, perhaps.

Not even sure of that.

Let us try to make sense of what's happening using yet another deciphering mechanism, yet another key.



Openization was the most extreme departure from the human natural condition because it created a virtual reality. The city is a virtual reality. It is divorced from the soil, it is divorced from production, it is divorced from manufacturing, it is divorced from anything that makes life real.

It's a make-believe, artificial augmented visual kind of environment where people are stacked on top of each other, alienated, estranged, broken, atomized.

Openization led to the rise of the author, Otello, the author and the original.

Suddenly people state claims to their creations and products.

This has not been the case in the Middle Ages, for example, where everything was a collective effort.

But now, starting more or less in the 14th and 15th centuries, the author, the creator, the artist has emerged and with him, mostly these were men, with him, the concept of the original.

This was the need to be seen. This was the need to be noticed and attended to. A need that became more and more pressing and less and less capable of being satisfied in an environment where the population exploded and proliferated and concentrated in these virtual cages known as cities.

In a city, it's very difficult to stand out. In a village, everyone knows everyone.

And so there was a need to be seen. It was a new modern phenomenon, this need to be seen.

And people tried to cater to this need via creativity. Creativity was born.

It's not that people, it's not that there were no playwrights or artists before the, let's say, 15th century. Of course there were.

But the motivation for creating art was different, very different.

It wasn't about self-aggrandizement or being noticed or standing apart. It wasn't about brand differentiation. It wasn't about getting likes.

The modern concept of creation and creativity has to do with self-promotion, has to do with self-differentiation and has to do with narcissistic supply.

The age of narcissism has dawned with the author and the original.

Three hundred years ago, we came up with the frankly counterintuitive and bizarre concept of intellectual property.

Intellectual property was ownership of the fruits of the mind. You came up with a book or painted something and you were the owner of this creation.

This was necessary because reproduction, mechanical reproduction blurred the line between original and copy. It was difficult to tell. The two hundredth copy of a book was exactly the same as the first copy of a book. So which one of them is the original and which one was a copy?

Mechanical reproduction also dramatically reduced the marginal cost of creating copies. So we were inundated with thousands of copies of products of the mind and people wanted to make money off that and wanted to be rightfully identified as the authors.

So intellectual property was the solution starting with copyrights and patents and so on.

The author and the original have defined the last few hundred years of civilization. It was a foundational concept, an organizing principle and an ideology. Laws were passed. Law enforcement got involved. People spent time in prison owing to infringements of these intellectual property laws and so on. People became identified with their products.

And you no longer were, I don't know, Salman Rushdie. You were the author of the satanic verses.

What you did became who you are.

And intellectual property rewarded you for doing more of the same. It was an incentive system intended to underpin and buttress and incentivize the consumer society, consumerism.

Walter Benjamin wrote a magnificent work titled The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. It was published in 1935. It was an essay of cultural criticism.

And he proposed and explained that mechanical reproduction devalues the aura, the uniqueness of creative works of art or creative products.

The fact that they can be mechanically reproduced renders them commodities. They are commodified.

At that point, where creative works of art, books, paintings, violin photography, I mean, you name it, movies, of course, on DVDs and streaming. At that point, where we commodified the fruits of the human mind, intellectual property became concerned only exclusively with money, not with the product itself.

Similarly, people began to tailor products to yield maximum income.

So intellectual property and the royalties that it engendered came to define the creative process and deform it.

The whole thing became dysfunctional.

At some point, it was critical to reassert one's uniqueness, one's idiosyncrasy, one's personality.

We were swamped with thousands, tens of thousands, sometimes millions of copies of the same things and even authors and creators needed to somehow distance themselves from the interminable sempiternal noise of mechanical reproduction.

Here we transition from the age of the author and the original because the concept of original was no longer tenable, was no longer sustainable.

In an age of mechanical reproduction, there is no original.

And if there is no original, this undermines the very concept of authorship.

So we transitioned from the age of original and the age of authorship to the age of identity.

Identity became big business.

Patterns copyrights, brands, they all identified the creator or the author or the inventor, but they were not focused or centered on verifying identity and legitimizing it.

Malkoni, for example, basically plagiarized radio from both and others. It was very common practice at the time.

So who did what was less important than what was done, what had been done.

So the system of intellectual property emphasized the property rather than the author and the original.

And so there was backlash.

The backlash came in the form of identity and its politics.

People said, people rebelled against this anonymizing, homogenizing, commercial, consumer-oriented system. They raised their hands and said, I'm here.

Yeah, I'm producing books, I'm writing books, I'm going to do this. I'm a content creator on YouTube, but it's me who is doing all this. Please interact with me, my identity.

So we are seeing, we're beginning to see the emergence of identity products.

Now, is blockchain, NFTs. NFTs are ways to identify authentic original works of art. And they are, NFTs are focused on guaranteeing identity.

Physical tokens are ways to guarantee identity by being unique. Physical money is not unique.

Currency is a fungible. NFTs are not.

It's the next stage.

We are transitioning to an age where identity becomes a commodity.

And there are technologies emerging which guarantee identity and vouch for it.

This trend from authorship, product, consumer, consuming or consumption to identity and authenticity, this trend is only just starting.

We are on the cusp of the transition from the first age of author and original to the second age of identity and original.

And this is a backlash to mechanical reproduction.

Now, there is a problem with all this.

Digital digital products. Theoretically, had we not had digital products, we would have had to work by hand to write a book with a parchment, an aqueel. We would have had to paint with a brush. This would have been physical artifacts, physical products.

And the only thing remaining would have been to guarantee our identity somehow.

But with digital products, the problem is much compounded.

Not only the problem of establishing authorship, plagiarism is rife. I mean, just have a look at YouTube. My work has been pilfered and plagiarized by numerous people. And I mean, the entirety of my work. They don't bother to give credit or to identify me as the author or anything. And that's very common. I'm not a victim. I'm very typical.

So authorship and originality or establishing the original, they are huge problems with digital products.

Even establishing identity using, for example, non-fungible tokens or blockchain technologies or even establishing identity these ways doesn't solve the problem. It doesn't solve the problem because mechanical reproduction had a cost to produce the next book. You needed to invest money in paper, binding, ink and your workers. To produce the next copy of an electronic book, you need nothing but an infinitesimal, tiny bit of electricity.

So digital products are what we call non-rivalrous. There is a zero marginal cost involved in producing the next copy. It's almost vanishingly small.

That with a push of a button, you can produce a million copies, literally a million copies. The cost of the marginal cost of private digital goods is zero for all intents and purposes.

And the focus, therefore, shifted from manufacturing to attention.

So this is the third phase.

The first phase.

Who is the author and what is the original?

This was disrupted by mechanical reproduction.

Mechanical reproduction made so many copies that it was difficult to tell which was the original. And it enabled plagiarism and theft and so on and so forth.

Authorship became very blurred.

A reaction to this was the assertion of identity and of course the attendant identity politics.

So the assertion of identity.

And we're still in the throes of this wave of identity, like notice me, look at me, I'm here, social media, non-fungible tokens, you name it. It's a way to establish identity and vouch for it.


And now we are moving, and then we have moved to the third wave.

And the third wave was attention, the attention economy.

And the reason attention became a much sought after commodity, commodity that could easily be monetized and sold is that, the reason for that was the fact that digital goods are non-rivalrous.

It is so easy to produce copies of digital goods that it takes a lot of attention to discover the real gems.

This problem is called discoverability.

In a world where 3 million books are printed every year, how can you tell which ones are worthy of your attention and time? How can you tell which ones are authoritative and which ones are trash?

This is called discoverability.

How do you discover the gems in the pile of dung?

Excuse me for the expression.

Discoverability is a major issue.

And so authors and manufacturers, like publishers for example, authors and manufacturers needed to attract attention to their products in lieu of discoverability via intermediaries.

Now discoverability depends on the allocation of attention.

I will explain these complex sentences.

In the past there were specialized functions, special people whose role was to tell you what is good and what is not, what is qualitative and what is trash. These were known as gatekeepers. These were editors, for example, in publishing houses and in newspapers.

And then we got rid of the gatekeepers. Everyone has access to reproduction technologies. Everyone can create a book. Everyone can make a movie. Everyone literally.

So there are no gatekeepers and no taste. People with taste, people with knowledge of context, people with cultural background, all of them are gone. They are gone.

So for you to discover a specific intellectual product, you need to focus your attention on it.

Authorism manufacturers compete for your attention because otherwise their products will never be discovered.

The flip side of the coin of discoverability is attention.

So we developed an attention economy.

The attention economy relies on two techniques.

One interpolation, a word coined by Louis Althusser in the 60s. Attention is another word for targeted brainwashing advertising and propaganda. That's one.

By using repetition and in training, advertising and propaganda and public relations, marketing, they all redirect your attention to specific products or at least attempt to.

And the second technique in the attention economy is monetizing.

Monetizing your eyeballs, converting your attention into money via the aggregation of big data attention.

I call it the demographics of attention.

So there are aggregators of attention and then they slice the attention into demographics and resell the attention to, for example, advertisers or political parties or what have you.

We have entered an age where for a product, intellectual or otherwise, but mainly intellectual, for an intellectual product to stand any chance of survival, it needs to attract attention.

So therefore attention became the main commodity, the main raw material in the economy.

Again, to recap, phase one in human history, the emergence of the author and the emergence of the original more or less 5000 years ago.

Phase two, mechanical reproduction, printing of books, lithography, copying in monasteries. These were all reproductions, mechanical or human.

As copies were created, there was a problem with authorship and it became impossible to establish the original, to distinguish the original from the copies.

So we developed a system of intellectual property which rewarded the authors and the creators for generating the original and for the copying of the original later on. This was a system of intellectual property.

And then the digital economy made this system problematic because it takes zero expense to make millions of copies of everything. Books, paintings, everything can be digitized, everything can be replicated. Only the push of a button.

So intellectual property systems are antiquated and ill-equipped to deal with this.

We therefore transition to the third age.

The third age from original authorship to mechanical reproduction to the third age, which is the age of identity, where we are inventing technologies intended to establish, guarantee and vouchsafe for identity.

Blockchain technologies are only the latest.

But even that is not enough.

Because even if your identity is guaranteed and your authenticity is vouchful, who's going to notice your product?

You need to attract attention to your product.

And so we reverted, we transitioned to the fourth phase.

The fourth phase was the attention economy, where corporations, manufacturers and creators trade in attention. They give attention, they take attention, they sell attention, they repackage attention, they slice attention by demographics, they sell and resell and purchase attention. It's all about attention.

Intermediation is a perfect example, a reification of the attention economy.

The attention economy engendered self-sufficient, disintermediated, atomized, with attention, individual attention was diverted into online pursuits and away from other people.

A competition sprang up between online offerings, including entertainment, but not only entertainment, and offline in real world, IRL propositions.

So people started to prefer the online world. It's more manageable, it's less demanding, it can be turned off on a dime, there's a switch.

So people preferred, of course, the path of least resistance, which is the online world. They became more and more self-sufficient. They directly interacted with content creators and their products. And they isolated people, people isolated themselves, atomization, they isolated themselves and dedicated all their attention to online pursuits, online venues, online products and online personalities.

And these, of course, impaired, damaged people's reality testing. They're no longer, they're with one leg in reality and one leg online. They have one digital leg and one physical leg.

And so this disintermediation, self-sufficiency, atomization and so on and so forth fractured and fragmented our communities, institutions and social structures. To the point that people's reality became totally simulated.

Most people interact with their smartphones much more than they do with any other person.

The lives of most people are embedded in their electronic devices.

Take these devices away from them and they fall apart.

Reality became more and more pixelated, digitized, converted into ones and zeros.

The minute reality became reduced to beats, became commoditized. It was up for grabs and up for sale.

And we are about to enter the fifth stage.

The fourth stage is the attention economy.

The fifth stage, the next frontiers are reality, real estate and commodified but idiosyncratic, menu driven reality, aka multiverse, the multiverse.

Reality real estate simply means that high tech giants and in the running we have Google and Facebook and Amazon and Apple.

High tech giants will parcel out reality, divide it and treat it as if it were real estate.

They will create development projects and they will invite people to acquire lots and homes in these simulations of reality.

And at the same time they will create menus of reality which will allow each and every person to customize or to tailor his or her reality according to their predilections and needs and wishes.

So reality will be taken over, divided, parceled out but then you will have a menu and you will be able to shape reality the way you wish.

Reality will become raw material, collaborative virtual realities with supplant physical realities.

There will be reality substitutes, anything from sex dolls to intimacy apps. All these will proliferate.

Gradually people will give up on physical reality in the real world altogether.

They will do everything online. They will have minimal or no contact with other human beings. They will inhabit simulated worlds which will provide cradle to grave solutions.

You will do everything, sex, work, everything you will do online.

At that point the high tech giants will rule reality, will control our reality exactly as they have controlled our attention, exactly as they have dominated our identity. They will now take over our reality.

This is the fifth phase.

We have surrendered our identity to legends, blockchain legends but still legends, computerized legends.

We have surrendered our creativity and authorship to monopolies such as Amazon. We have sold or traded our attention in return for trivial pursuits. We have isolated and atomized ourselves to the point that we can no longer form effective coalitions against high tech encroachment.

So we are doomed. We are slaves, actually slaves.

And now we are going to be herded onto plantations. And in these plantations of course we could choose the crop, cotton or something else.

But these will be plantations owned by slaveholders. We are going to be there. We are going to be utterly enslaved because the alleged ostensible option of pulling the plug is just debt.

Can you truly survive without your smartphone? Can you truly go a year without social media?

I don't think so.

Maybe you are telling yourself that you can.

Try it.

Let's say how long you will survive.

There are strong mechanisms of conditioning at work.

And so the minute the high tech giants appropriate your reality, confiscate it, take over it, mine it for you, tailor it, menu driven as it is, and tell you how you should live your life because reality is just another word for your life.

At that point you will have vanished.

Now even in this environment of course you will be able to create and many people will.

The way we offer originals will be guaranteed with non-fungible tokens or some other blockchain or distributed technology. Ledgers of identity will proliferate and probably also infiltrate traditional industries such as banking.

But this is all very misleading because whatever it is that you do, establishing your identity, creating something, manufacturing something, selling something, you will be forced to do within a specific environment, within the confines of a specific environment. You will never be able to exit a matrix.

Never mind how happy you are in the matrix. Never mind how creative. Never mind how collaborative and helpful the matrix is.

The only condition is that you are a slave to the matrix.

And this is the world we are heading to. This would become even more pernicious and exacerbated with introduction of artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence has already passed the Turing test. It will displace people, displace in real life people. It will become a friend, an advisor, an interlocutor, a lover, and a service provider.

Artificial intelligence will have beneficial impacts. It will free people up to construct online simulations and inhabit them. It may even prevent wars and conflicts the same way Hal, remember Hal, the computer in.

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Professor Sam Vaknin argues that Western civilization has failed in its basic undertaking of making its members happy. He identifies four pernicious wrong turns that have led to our unhappiness: agriculture, organization, growth orientation, and the adversarial organizational principle. These have led to an addiction to economic growth, the emergence of institutions such as patriarchy, cities, and conflict-based science. Vaknin suggests reversing these trends by putting humans above production, breaking apart cities, creating a new form of economics that takes into account happiness and sustainability, and giving up on most Western values. He sees COVID-19 and climate change as wake-up calls to change course before it's too late.

Internet: Heavenly Narcissism Factory (Convo with Guy Sengstock)

Sam Vaknin discusses the profound impact of society and technology on the individual, suggesting that the internet and social media have led to a societal shift where people have chosen the world over the self, resulting in a form of collective narcissism. He argues that technology has become a substitute for essence, and that cyberspace is akin to a digital Platonic cave. Vaknin also touches on the idea that humans and computers are both universal machines, capable of unfurling numerous future potentialities. He suggests that the internet has become a realm where people defend their essence rather than just appearances, and that this has led to a loss of individuality and an increase in narcissistic behavior. Vaknin also discusses the concept of malignant egalitarianism, where technology and democracy have been co-opted by the masses as tools of empowerment and rebellion against the elites who created them. He concludes that in a civilization that celebrates the inanimate over the animate, one must become "dead" inside to succeed, and that this has led to a loss of hope and the ability to become, as all life and functionality are outsourced to others.

Privatized Empathy and Cowardly Public "Intellectuals"

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the decline of empathy in society, particularly among public intellectuals who prioritize self-interest, power, and manipulation over compassion and care for others. He identifies four groups of intellectuals in Macedonia, including the fearful, the self-interested, the territorial, and the malignantly romantic. He attributes the behavior of intellectuals in the Balkans, including Macedonia, to the influence of Marxism, socialism, and communism, which redefined the role of intellectuals as leaders and co-opted them into the power machine. Ultimately, he argues that intellectuals in Macedonia have betrayed their role in invigorating the nation and integrating society and culture into global trends.

Narcissism Sucks? Fix It! (with Assc Direct)

Sam Vaknin discusses the impact of social media on individuals and society, including the intentional design of addiction and conditioning in social media platforms. He also talks about the failure of the social experiment of humanity and how institutions were not built to support such a weight. Additionally, he discusses the phenomenon of the "masculinization" of women and the myth of grade A supply in narcissistic relationships. Sam advises people to reconnect with reality by establishing meaningful connections with living, breathing, sweating human beings and to discard all the layers that are not theirs and remain with the essence of themselves.

Metaverse: Conspiracy or Heaven? (With Divya Thakur)

Summary: In this conversation, Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of the metaverse, its potential impact on society, and the need for regulation to mitigate its negative effects. He highlights concerns about addiction, mental health, climate impact, and labor issues. He emphasizes the importance of grassroots activism, particularly by parents and women, to push for legislative measures to control the metaverse and protect society from its potential harms.

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