Embracing Untruth: The Rise of Bokononism in the Age of Social Media

In the realm of social media and digital connectivity, Bokononism, as imagined by Kurt Vonnegut in Cat’s Cradle, has resurfaced with an unexpected vigor, evolving from a literary satire into a digital phenomenon that thrives on irony, memes, and the contemporary absurdities.

At its core, Bokononism embraces foma, benign falsehoods (or “harmless untruths”) that offer solace and significance amidst life’s uncertainties. Central to its doctrine is the concept of the karass, a cosmic cohort whose members are unknowingly linked by fate. Vonnegut’s creation stands as a lampoon of organized religion, with its founder Bokonon donning the hat of a whimsical sage, composing satirical verses known as calypsos to lampoon human foibles and the gravity of existence.

Enter the virtual realm of X (formerly known as Twitter), where self-proclaimed Bokononists engage in calypso battles, crafting pithy verses and ironic quips that skewer societal norms and political figures alike. Their tweets, adorned with hashtags like #FomaFriday and #KarassUnite, rally a following of kindred spirits who revel in the cathartic disruption of reality.

On Instagram, Bokononists orchestrate digital rituals—live readings of The Books of Bokonon complete with dramatic interpretations and exaggerated expressions. Here, followers respond with a symphony of laughing emojis and meme-worthy banter, transforming Bokonon’s teachings into a contagious internet sensation.

In the midst of this virtual maelstrom, Bokononists convene “karass meet-ups” in virtual reality, where avatars adorned in fanciful attire engage in caffeinated debates on the philosophical implications of foma. These gatherings blend existential musings with comic repartee, offering participants a sanctuary from the gravity of everyday life and a forum to bond over shared skepticism.

Yet, the ascent of Bokononism in the digital epoch is not without its ironies and pitfalls. Tales abound of Bokononist influencers ensnared in meme skirmishes, debating the essence of foma while juggling sponsorships for organic protein shakes and digital detox getaways. One notable influencer, renowned for his irreverent TikTok parodies, inadvertently stirs controversy with a misunderstood calypso on the ephemerality of online stardom.

In another saga, a Bokononist Discord enclave descends into chaos as members clash over the optimal path to enlightenment through foma. Amidst the fray, moderators struggle to uphold decorum as debates escalate into impassioned discourses on the ethics of digital subversion and the perils of algorithmic scrutiny.

As Bokononism gains momentum in the digital age, skeptics question its authenticity: is it a bona fide philosophical revolt against societal norms, or merely a transient trend in the kaleidoscope of social media? Nonetheless, for its adherents, Bokononism offers a refracted lens through which to view the contradictions of modernity—a playful insurgency against life’s solemnity, wrapped in the shroud of digital irony and disseminated with a click and a share.

—CD

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