Answer Culture

In an answers-driven society, what good is a question? Well, good enough so long as its answer can be found. The go-getter, well-networked, capitalistic monopolists must find the answer, else they must freak out. Lack of answer is lack of control. Lack of control is end of the world.

But the world must continue. For it to continue, the systems must exist. And be respected.

Hence the refusal to ask the pertinent question and yet seek pleasure in deriving the quick answers. The How-To and the Chicken Soups have all become global bestsellers. I came across (but of course avoided reading!) this book on Chicken Soup for African American Souls. Needless, it calls itself a “tribute to a culture that prides itself on survival, resiliency, healing, prayer and perseverance.”

When Internet cannot help, healing and prayer are the newest ways to seek the answers. Of course one would argue that they always were. But the fine line of distinction lies in the fact that unlike earlier days, when people struggled to find concrete answers (because the answers were ill-defined and poorly presented), these days its not just easy to find answers, but answers lead to more answers than more questions because of the sophisticated style of presentations. Just look at the way Google serves you the dish of answers with degrees of “relevance”.

Realistically speaking, answers are to be found in the capitalistic supermarket of Google. I am sure Google is like the Arundel Mills Mall and our answers, like the commodities are all available at this one place. And if we don’t locate the answers, we get frustrated. Because going by the logic of the machine, the answer must be there. The logic of the question needs to be reframed. So the machine stops working for us. We start toiling for the machine. Because, no matter what, the answers must be traced.

What Google does is in fact categorize answers on relevance. And what we need, I guess, is instead to make our questions relevant. So we may need to pause awhile and think of the questions that are of need in today’s world, and realize that the answers are not easy to be found anywhere, and of course impossible on the Google.

One needs to struggle against odds to win the answers. Not be lulled into a microsecond trip down the fast lane of illusions.


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