Sleepwalking into Dystopia

Sleepwalking into Dystopia is a series of articles written by me as a self-publishing author of cyberpunk/dystopian fiction and nonfiction.

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Sensemaking During Infodemics: understanding the framing

Estimated 3 minutes read: Coronavirus Information Overload: facts, information, misinformation and disinformation how do we make sense of which is which?  

The times we live in are riddled with information overload. From the mass media outlets that are arguably "real news", even though they are famed for their clickbait headlines, through to fake news. Government and health authority information sites and those from trusted sources being ignored whilst social media posts from some bloke down the pub (when we used to be allowed to go to them) go viral. We are also inundated with misinformation from ill-informed sources to disinformation from bad actors and foreign entities.  

We have a war on our information systems and as such on our ability to make sense of reality is fractured at best. Sensemaking needs real determination and critical thinking. It needs deep research and an ability to challenge the words being spoken or written as well as the motive or bias, realised or subconscious, behind them. It's a difficult process in normal times. In these digital times, especially in the last four years, it has become incredibly hard. The weaponization of information from national and international intelligence services and the political parties looking to sway elections and votes has never been so prevalent. Not to mention the feeling of mini-celebrity that someone gets when a post they make goes viral giving them an endorphin buzz that they want, again and again, meaning they seek out new ways to stay relevant. 

Add in a pandemic like Covid-19, and we have a critical mass of information overload sprinkled with fear and anxiety to make comprehension and critical analysis almost impossible for millions of people worldwide.  

We need to remember all of this before we slate people for panic buying considering that scenario we now live in. These are not regular times, and this is not a normal situation. Remember, panic buying is because people are panicking, and they are panicking because they are scared.  

We can develop our sensemaking skills in many ways, and this "sensemaking" can help to alleviate the stress and fear somewhat. It can help us develop more resilience to infodemic and mass hysteria. We can learn to protect ourselves, our family and friends by developing a range of skills such as metacognitive thinking, critical analysis and meditation, to name just a few.  

I will aim to develop a range of tools and techniques from this site in order to help people learn to develop these self-resilience skills and sensemaking capabilities in the weeks and months to come. But for now, let's consider framing and the metacognitive process of considering the frame and the information.  

Consider the framing 

Part of developing sensemaking and critical thinking is looking to understand the framework or framing from which a message is being communicated. As mentioned, some of these frames are deliberate and some are from people's subconscious biases.  

A political leader might try to frame the entire Covid-19 situation as "not a big deal" or "we have it under control." They may be coming from a framework of protecting the economy over the health and lives of people. This would be a deliberate and planned framing of the message to protect their self-interests or their agenda.  

Another person, say your social media buddy, might promote a post that is full of scary "facts" or misinformation because; a) it appears to be the social norm and everyone is sharing it, hence = truth in their mind and b) it confirms their subconscious fear-based bias. 

One of these is a very deliberate act and the other is less so. Being able to step back from the information we receive, break it down into it component parts; where it originated from, its tone, it's desired results etc, will help us to manage our reactions to it so as not to become overwhelmed or swept away by it.  

The behavioural metacognitive analysis of the framing 

I will go deeper and add some content on metacognition and behavioural metacognitive analysis and training in the future. But for now, we will understand it as the process of "thinking about thinking." The method of thinking about what we are thinking, how we are feeling and deconstructing whether it is "true" or biased in some way. It goes much deeper, but for now, this should suffice. 

In terms of this article, we can look at behavioural metacognitive analysis is the process of thinking about the thinking that went behind the words we hear or are read. We can do this in order to gain some insight into where they might truly be coming from.  

But also, the metacognitive process can be a way of protecting ourselves because we can question our own thinking around the words, our processing of them and question our own analysis and emotional impact those words may be having. Which again can give us some insight into the motive behind them. 

So how can we do this? 

Analyse and break down the neurolinguistics: that is the words used, the tone, tempo etc. This can give us tremendous insights into the possible frame that the person sharing that information may be operating from, I say possibly as it is not an exact science.  

Whether that be a deliberate frame or not. I am not suggesting we enter a scientific framework of analysis but rather something that protects you as a person from information overload and digesting bad information that can be damaging to your mental health and more.  

Then decide whether you want to add this to your world view, your frame of the situation and whether you want to log it mentally as fact or fiction, or just something of interest but not something that you will hold onto. Seriously consider this before you also share that information. A gut reaction share when in an emotional state can lead to sending out wrong information we later regret, something I am sure we have all done in one form or another.  

Part of the metacognitive process is stepping back to realise and analyse your emotional reaction to your own thoughts or the words you have taken in that then become part of those thoughts. This is great insight for protecting your own mental and neurological health but also that of others. If you have a negative or positive reaction to a piece of information, you might want to metacognitively assess if that was the desired result and if people you know, and others might react in the same way. Considering this can make us think twice before sharing information and before being swept up by it ourselves.  


On a personal note, I am now going to try and get some air during this social distancing lockdown in the UK and go and do some much-needed gardening. Stay safe, practice social distancing and wash your hands. Most of all remember to be kind not everyone has the metacognitive and critical analysis skills you may have, and they may be acting out of fear. 

by Sam I Am

Fear and loathing in your living room

In this article I look at the Reticular Activating System

So why is fear so addictive and used by social media, tech, government, and big business to refocus your attention?

First, let’s look at something called the Reticular Activating System. I was looking for a way to describe this and came across this Medium article by  Tobias van Schneider titled “If you want it, you might get it. The Reticular Activating System…

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In this article I am looking at Deflective Marketing and Reflexive Control

The seeds of fear and doubt are addictive and contagious:

I recently posted the below on Facebook.

Thought of the day on the Chaos Architectures of Manipulation and Control

“Deflective marketing and reflexive control are mechanisms of shaping the narrative in a framing whereby the information architecture, from within which the argument draws its knowledge,…

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In this article, I am looking at the Aims and Objectives of Russian Information Warfare

I had to take a break from this for a couple of weeks as the obsession with this subject was getting too intense and not good for me mentally. However, now I can continue.

In this post, we will look at the aims and objectives of the information war conducted by Russia. To understand these is to understand the subtly of how they work at times.

We will…

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In this artiicle, I look at the Concepts and Terminology to understand Russian Information Warfare

To start off this second post in the “The Russian Information War” series and continue our focus on “Concepts and Terminology” let's first start of by restating that Russian Information Warfare is carried out, in part, during peacetime as well as wartime. Of course, the fact that this is stepped up during times of war is the very reason…

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In this article, I look at the Concepts and Terminology to understand Russian Information Warfare

As discussed in the last post I will be working through the Handbook of Russian Information Warfare to see if I can break down what this means to us the civilians of the world and what it might mean in terms of protecting ourselves and doing what we can for the people of Ukraine.

Section 2 of the handbook; looks at “Essential…

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This is the first of my articles looking at the Russian Information Warefare Machine

As I write these words Russia is on the ninth day of its invasion of Ukraine in 2022. There are many words I could and have on my social media channels and website where I write about this. About the war crimes, the inhumanity, the shelling of civilians, and the attacks on people trying to flee but there are many more qualified people on the ground in Ukraine who are doing a much better job of that…

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There is nothing the elite hate more than having their narratives disrupted. Of course, in today's world getting your narrative even heard is challenging enough. The elite do have the benefit though of the media who will suck up every ounce of bait that those in the seats of power in government, big business, and especially big tech give them. Big tech of course also has a great stranglehold of all of the narratives of the world through the censorship, suppression, and removal of content…

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So, what is really going on right now? What is the truth? Whilst BoJo and his team of co-conspirators look to dismantle the NHS and crash it during a plague. As he and his cronies have said “let the bodies pile high” and then gaslight us with repeating failed concepts; experimenting with the immunity of the heard. Using a metaphor that leaves the British public framed as not just animals and beasts but ones that are tamed, controlled and devoured by their masters. It is clear they have one…

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Why are Trumpers, Brexiteers and Tory supporters so angry? After all, they won. So why do we see and hear them continually getting wound up and shouting, even screaming at the other side?  

Do they honestly think that once an election or referendum has finished that the other side should just shut up be quiet and not say another word? Do they not know how democracy works? Neither the US nor the UK is in a dictatorship (yet). But still, they seem to think that the other side does not…

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It is polling time again soon in the UK and who are you going to vote for? Do you know? Have you made up your mind? Or are you going to listen to what's said and make and “informed decision?” 

Is that even possible in today’s world? Can you make sense of all the noise? If we put aside for one moment the rhetoric and hyperbole from each of the main party front liners and their spin doctors, which are bad enough, and we listen to the media pundits, bloggers, podcasters and YouTubers can…

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Dystopian cyberpunk writer

Dystopian cyberpunk writing of prose, graphic novels, fiction, and non-fiction by Sam-i-am

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