Pronoia

Talking of wisdom in unexpected places has gotten me thinking about a word I heard in the late 90s. It was in a quote in a Wired Magazine compendium of mind grenades.

“There’s a new and virulent cultural virus ripping through the world. The symptoms of those infected include attacks of optimism, strong feelings of community, lowered stress levels and attacks of pronoia*
* the sneaking feeling that someone is conspiring behind their backs to help them”

There’s a more complete definition of pronoia here. John Perry Barlow defined it as “the suspicion the Universe is a conspiracy on your behalf”.

At the time I first heard the word I was caught up in the heady optimism of the tech boom in the late 90s. A lot of the time since though, I’ve continued to feel this way. Maybe it’s just another way of describing optimism, or faith. I think though that there’s a slight nuance here, one of intentionality. That people, the world, the Universe have the best possible intentions for you and are/is actively working towards them.

Pronoia is for me, a feeling or state of mind very akin to faith. It’s nice though when the universe does confirm it’s out to help us, and sends a few signals that all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

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One Response to “Pronoia”

  1. Pete Says:

    This definitely sounds like a disorder at first reading, and it’s one I share myself at times. It’s great now and then to be able to believe that somebody cares, even if you can’t quite put your finger on exactly who! Interesting, though, that while the faith often needs nurturing in order to grow, the “noia” part (i.e. where you begin to attribute mind and intent to a series of events) just seems to happen by itself… (IMHO)

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