“We are unknown to ourselves, we knowers: and with good reason. We have never looked for ourselves, – so how are we ever supposed to find ourselves?” – Friedrich Nietzsche from On the Genealogy of Morals.
It’s absolutely incredible what happens when you divorce your life from the internet. Or, perhaps, it should be phrased the other way around: It’s absolutely incredible what happens when you divorce the internet from your life. Regardless of your ability to admit to it or not, the permeation of this amazing tool can, and has, replaced a lot of the aspects of our lives for either good or bad. Being someone who has chosen technology as not only a career choice, but as a lifestyle, the line between where I begin and end blurs heavily and with a very scary amount of ease.
However, this isn’t some post that ends up being the darling to all those who damn both technology and the internet. Nor does it serve as a treatise on coming-clean from an addictive state regarding either of those. Instead it is simply a testament to an awakening. Not in a spiritual sense, as some like to incorrectly conflate in all invocations, but of a more conscious nature.
The human mind is an astounding piece of evolutionary and biological achievement. The ability that we possess for retaining memory, processing input simultaneously from nearly all areas of our bodies, and reacting to events in real-time rationally is not something to lightly scoff at. Equally, if not more impressive, is our faculty for what we call critical thinking. In this we find that we’re capable of creating some of the most elaborate tools and technologies to help us to sustain both living and communities. Also it can produce some of the finest liberal arts that we know of and have yet to discover. But it is this one piece of our minds, our wonderful and incredible minds, that is constantly being thwarted on a daily basis and the situation is not improving.
Think about it – when you check Facebook, what is it that you’re seeing? You’re certainly paying attention to your stream of updates from “Facebook Friends” but what else is there? Advertisements, trending celebrity news, posts from “Facebook Friends” who are actually businesses or organisations that are treated as single entities, carefully crafted headlines that link back to pages with an article that’s less than five-hundred words or diluted with pagination in order to increase ad revenue and waste more of your time, propagation of questionable “facts” and “truths” from unreliable sources, and, depending upon your usage, a sufficiently cultivated canonical history of your life that, in hindsight, removes the ability of such a user to have a complaint against having their privacy violated in any way whatsoever.
For these people, previously mentioned, Facebook has become a way to run their lives. Thus Facebook is their lives and , as follows, their lives are shaped by it.
But there is more that you can take away from other aspects of what was mentioned. The mass inundation of trite celebrity news and entertainment updates accumulates into a sweltering cesspool of overwhelmingly useless information, serving only to further facilitate this obsessive compulsive mentality in which those prey to it vicariously act out their lives or interests in. This usually results in the complete absenteeism of the individual and does not further press or force uniqueness. “Kim Kardashian poses nude for Paper magasine!” “A new Marvel movie is set to be released soon!” “Photos emerge of Avril Lavigne on her new Instagram account!” – who cares?
We are consistently lowering our expectations of ourselves for reasons which seem, at first, to be purely altruistic, and of that qualification we accept no dissenting perspective. Instead we lash out with public scrutiny, both verbal and in some cases physical and resulting in long-term damages, even if said scrutiny would potentially lead to a more practical, pragmatic or, ironically enough, altruistically sound solution. We’re entirely okay with this though and have accepted it as the supposed utopian goal of our society, thus our models of consumption and retention, regarding information, and scope of vision have been dimmed to the confines of the individual, making the very concept of “individuality” both our greatest asset and our worst enemy. News agencies and media outlets whittle down their articles to the smallest number of words possible, making them void of substance of any kind, to cater to the calculated lessening attention span of the “average” sheep. Because news is now compartmentalised in this way, smaller chunks can be delivered faster and in larger volumes. You don’t actually learn anything, because to learn is to digest, and it is impossible to digest properly what you are choking on. Digestion is an act that requires sufficient time, of which none of us are given. But don’t worry – this is okay. You don’t have to learn and you don’t have to think, that’s all taken care of for you. So you can continue to read, if you can, about the latest crumbling of a celebrity relationship.
Preying on individuality, we slaves to the dollar are subjected to filtered information of the highest magnitude to meet profit margins. Paradoxically, we promote the utmost importance of individuality and altruism yet actively subvert these things for a fiat currency that really, ultimately and truly, doesn’t mean anything. This is what our lives have resulted in: self-imposed slavery. This is what we teach our children, this is what we think is the norm, and this will because of those things, propagate forever until the human race has eradicated itself for the same reasons. Even those who are in control of money are slaves to it. Not necessarily what it manifests as physically but what it represents conceptually, which is far more dangerous than any money: a function of exercising power manipulation over large quantities of people. But how have we coped with this? Not by recognising this fallacy for the horror that it actually is and doing something about it, but by building upon it the foundations for assigning value to a life by quantity and supposed quality of material goods, which can only be attained with money, and from that somehow supposing that it alone is sufficient for judgment of our brothers and sisters, providing an adequate excuse to ignore objective morality (which, by the way, is not God nor any other religion which we have very sadly devoted ourselves to). We are, by nature, gluttons for slavery. We ask not to have absolute responsibility and accountability in our lives. We ask only, instead, that we delegate that to others, be they real or, hilariously, not, so that we can sit at home and feel as if we have done something right for ourselves regardless of other people in the world, or the Earth itself. We then feel entitled to read more celebrity news stories.
We don’t read, we don’t eat, we don’t sleep, and we don’t think. The very sad and horrible truth about life is that today’s society, that we have ourselves shaped, is at its core little more than a mildly civilised form of feudal medieval times. We’re kids with very large guns, uneducated and unprepared to handle them and brandish these weapons with a gusto that makes the most egotistical arrogant pig shudder in horror. We’re fine with Salem Witch Hunts, taking the most ludicrous steps against our brothers and sisters for the crime of critical thinking, and ensuring that we make it known for all, in this generation and the next, that you are to fall in line and never ask why.
This all makes me sick, and my repulsion of the virulence of this decadence gives me reason for great pause. It was for this which I stepped away from all of the things in my life, for just a brief moment, to attempt to make sense of and reconcile, neither of which I feel I have accomplished. I want to remove from me the entombment of myself by both myself and others. To be unafraid to think and speak as such. To structure my life in a way that shows what is possible when you are built not by the mistakes of those before you, but by the intents that you have to make changes now, and act on them.