Who's driving?

Who's to blame and who will save us.

We all have enemies, some of us have allies, and one of the most satisfying things in fiction —back when we had fiction— was the transformation of one into the other. The Klugorg who is about to eat your spleen learns that you share a common ancestor and consequently helps you fight the Soul Inspector. Jack lets the Duke go. Your sister turns out to be a nazi. Fortunately, it is revealed later that she’s not your real sister but a replacement doppleganger. Unfortunately, she murdered your real sister. Surprises, we like surprises, and we will get very few from our respondents, at least in this category.

Merkel is good

MerkelAn overwhelming majority of our (decidedly non-German) participants picked Angela Merkel as THE positive universal influence, from our (admittedly random) list of potential positive ones. If they are like us, and wouldn’t we like that, they chose her because she is the solitary leader of the real world that one could think of as more or less normal, meaning not a complete idiot. We could have said Macron, but we were afraid too many woke respondents would dislike him and we would get depressed. In any case, no matter your ideological inclination, it’s clear that the most moderate one (the normalest one) won and that’s one reason to be optimistic. The second reason to be optimistic is that the most despicable creature to grace religion since Charles Manson, the one and only Francis, Papam Horribilis, was voted as the world’s worst influence, surpassing villains as extreme and undeniably harmful as Trump and Damien Chazelle. So, things could be worse.

One minor surprise: Greta Thunberg doesn’t seem to be that relevant, even among what we can reasonably assume to be a quite polarized bunch of people. They had the option to select more than one, and most people did select several positive and negative influencers; however, few picked Greta, whom we purposefully placed in both categories. The younger lefty crowd did not pick her as an obvious positive influence, and our friends the Jaded Argentinian New Conservatives Probably by Need Rather Than Choice did not pick her as an obvious negative influence either. However this makes you feel, no one cares much about Greta.

People do seem to care about Trump, though; he was only surpassed as supervillain by the aforementioned Pope. But we also had quite of bit of Trump in the positive influence category, although our youngest analyst points out that “between Michael Douglas and Pewdiepie you could probably beat him”. That would be an interesting real-life scenario, one that the Democrats would probably be wise to consider. We did not for a second think of including Biden in this poll.

We are a bit perplexed about the across-the-board hatred for Bono, but then again we put him there, so he must have done something wrong. There were three people who picked Greta and Trump. We want to hear from them, tell us more. With a younger audience, we would have probably gotten more Jacob Collier or Pewdiepie, but we’ll never know. We will contact the 55 people who hate Damien Chazelle when it’s time to colonize another planet. In the meantime, we’ll have to get by with a little help from people’s second favourite, whom we saved for the end because he’s always been so much more interesting and revealing than his competitors in any category:

With 290 votes, it’s undeniably Batman who will enforce the Rule of Sensible, for Angela Merkel’s Global Government that will never exist. We suspected as much, and it doesn’t sound bad at all. But hold on:

Which Batman?

That was the question that we asked (specifically to those 290 people who chose Batman as a positive influence) and the results are quite the metaphor:

The Batman with the most votes was the populist, illiterate Nolan version, as played by poor Christian Bale, who both before and after has proved that he clearly deserves better. It’s a dismal perspective; a generation raised with no sense of humor, mistaking subwoofer for pathos and repression for mystery. There is nothing surprising about this; Nolan’s Batman is as much Trump’s Batman as he is the Batman of Antifa, Extinction Rebellion or whatever name you prefer for the Totalitarian Left Revival. He is the ideology-conscious Batman, the Batman without a soul or a brain: the Batman we deserve, the opposite of Batman.

But this doesn’t mean that the majority prefers this shit. Adam West is still surprisingly strong in the memory of a large audience, many of whom grew up some 20 years after the TV show stopped being made. And Michael Keaton is represented by the usual 20% of people who were always more or less OK. Between both they make up more than 50% of all responses. If you add them up they could kick Christian Bale’s ass1.

If, with that in mind, we take a quick look at all the combinations of positive influencers we received, we gain a certain perspective:

Aren’t most popular combinations quite reasonable? They look pretty decent to us.

Is it possible, then, that the world of Nolan’s Batman, this world we inhabit, of culture wars without the culture, film without the texture, life without the life, is not really backed by the majority of humans, only tolerated? Could it be that all this shit is only prevalent because it’s current, which is to say that it’s only winning because it wins?

Yes. No. Maybe.

Let’s say it is. Let’s consider for a moment that all this darkness, this diorama of crap, is not the actual zeitgeist but a momentary infestation: the bully in the playground, only noticeable because he’s louder, or violent, or both. How do we go about solving that problem? Let’s look at the playground:

The playground

Oh how we would prefer the playground to be other than the Internet, but what else would it be? It turns out that everybody wants more Internet. We hoped for the contrary. We even asked people how much they enjoyed the Internet compared to how they used to enjoy the Internet, knowing that there was no way on earth they would find it more enjoyable today, and hoping that this could stimulate a certain reluctance, reflexion, anything. Nah. People do, indeed, enjoy the internet less than before, but they still want more.

We may be biased but we won’t judge this time. Internet it is, then, if that’s what makes you happy.

So what are we supposed to do on the Internet? We asked people how much of their private life they share online.

Well, that just can’t be true.

If the majority of people share so little of their private lives online, then Instagram would be empty. Facebook would have ceased to exist. Snapchat would have never existed. We know you’re sharing your private life online, motherfucker, so why are you saying you’re not? Are people lying about this? Or just downplaying it, like when you’ve had too many cookies and you convince yourself that you haven’t? Or could it be that we don’t even know how much of our private life we’re posting every day? We are inclined to believe that’s the case. It’s bit by bit, homeopathic sharing, you don’t even notice and that’s how you end up with 160.000 tweets in a couple of years. Ten times Moby Dick. No wonder we’re not getting much done.

And how much of that material is something we came up with, as opposed to a photo of espresso foam? We asked people how much of their opinions they usually share in public:

It’s all over the place. Nobody knows. We don’t even know how much of our opinions we are sharing with other humans? Who’s keeping track, you could ask. What happened with the previous response could be happening here as well: nobody notices how much because it happens in small doses. Fair enough. But we also asked people if they thought opinions should primarily be public or private. 58% said private2 and 42% said public. We believe these results combined with the above graph clearly spell we-have-no-idea.

It seems like, after a couple of decades, public and private have finally ceased to mean anything.

Not that we should necessarily condemn this particular development, but it makes the rest of our social section more difficult to interpret. Maybe we should have been more specific when we asked about friendship and social interaction. We learned that lesson, for the next survey that we probably won’t do. In any case, we don’t really see clear trends in the social aspects, other than contradiction.

Most people claimed to have 5-8 friends, which seems reasonable and real-life oriented. But almost half of respondents said it’s a lot of work to keep these friendships alive. And when we look at strategies to keep these friendships alive, the vast majority, including those who said it’s a lot of work, said they have no strategy and it comes naturally to them. But, it’s a lot of work. So which is it?

As for what threatens those friendships, politics are obviously the big divisive factor. Aside from age, the biggest factor people mentioned for shifts in their social circle was “people are stupid”. Which is nice to hear. But too many people said people and stupid, and it’s highly unlikely that stupid means the same to all.

At this preliminary stage, the most interesting and surprising insight we got from the social section is that 74% of respondents consider changing their social circle was the right thing to do, but almost a fourth —an astonishing 24.72%— said maybe it was a mistake. Who are these 2913 persons? And how does it work for them? Can they go back? Would they be forgiven? Would they even want to go back? What have they done? We won’t address this issue here, but we promise to do it somewhere else, in the not so distant future.

1 We only refer to his Batman. We love Christian Bale since he was Jamie Ballard and we wish him the best, always.

2 Now how the fuck is that possible, right? Almost 60% of people —and our audience, limited as it is in matters of representation, is nevertheless among the most opinionated— think that opinions are not meant to be shared? What do they want an opinion for, what do they even think an opinion is? What is the value of an opinion that is never shared? Furthermore, how does it function, the mind of the person who never shares an opinion? How does he know whether he is right or wrong, what other think of him, who others are? All these questions, important, as they are, will have to wait, because there is a chance that the 60% of people who think opinions should be private don’t even really think that. It is possible that no one even knows what “opinion”, —or “private”— means anymore.

3 291 = Batman+1

Movies, Music and the Good Stuff

What's good out there? What was good before? Are they the same? Are there any new ideas? Who do people want to kill?

This is it

The Status Quo

How would you rate your overall satisfaction with life on this planet? In which ways is the planet better than 20 years ago? In which ways is it worse? Are things getting better, or are they getting worse? What is this? Why a survey?

Find out