Plato’s numbers

Accounting is not a binary state and is not necessarily purely about numbers, it encompasses all human emotions from extreme happiness to despair purely and simply because of the idea that there are safe spaces in society where people conform to norms, adopt or adapt behaviours dependent on outcomes that can be measured or plainly and simply know that an excess of income over expenditure, however calculated is a recipe for success and all the other positive emotions that emanate from hitting targets. We devise budgets because we want to know boundaries and identify on conformance issues. But we ignore blips at our peril, so too with larger society rules and regulations. From the Agora to Social media we are continually striving for the answer as to what is a ‘norm’ or ‘safe space’ in which to operate and find ways to express ourselves in a language ( or number)that everyone understands.

The world is not defined by numbers but by a series of happenings within society be it through IT, formal teaching, habits and customs, social contracts and general human interactions, interactions with which the modern world is formed and a common or consensual approach is defined through the engagement of all the senses. This is nothing new, Socrates has been responsible for the dialogue –thesis-antithesis- synthesis approach to human interaction, and current day living has adopted a version of synthesis or mid-way because emotions and entrenchments are safe spaces in which people operate and the rich get richer and the status quo becomes more embedded and outliers, as always, end up being burned at the stake. Or in the case of social media, if you don’t have a twitter account your views don’t matter. In the case of technology, if you don’t respond in the accepted manner of what the algorithm dictates or you don’t hit your sales targets then you don’t conform and won’t get your rewards. Behaviour and Consumerism has to be standardised. Technology is inclusive, because if you don’t conform then you don’t get to play. No mention of excuses, force majeure, suffering or non-conformity is allowed.

If you don’t get a ‘comment’ or a ‘like’ or a ‘high five’ then you get to feel unsafe and thoughts of exclusion creep in. So devising rigid tick box programmes or not replying to emails becomes part of the path to social exclusion. Conformity and numbers become key metrics and we don’t see the world outside. The IT operating system is the new Plato’s cave. We choose to live in the world of shadows and bytes. When we talk about diversity we are looking at everybody’s  digital shadows, we are reminding ourselves of differences that reinforce uncertainty and lose any privacy or sense of self we ever had. We have a Faustian pact with Facebook because we are secure in our knowledge that everybody who is anybody uses that platform and we surrender our privacy as a price worth paying. The Consumer society is digitally eating itself by numbers and we are getting to a stage where we cant differentiate right from wrong, left from right, because we are being selective in our moral choices and conforming to the latest thread or accepting synthetic ( sic) mediocrity.


Ideas from Bauman- liquid identity