Existence Validation as Assisted Self-Remembering in Social Media

You know what scares me most? Not being able to do what I want to do. The most interesting aspect to this is that I’m currently doing a lot of things in my life that I don’t want to do. A paradox! If our lives are measured by the time, and time is the currency in which we have to spend on both the things we must do and things we want to do–then why do we waste that currency on the things we don’t want to do?

getting_a_new_haircut_at_school-57610I had a revelation about social media recently. The single most irritating aspect to social media is how much people rely on it to validate their own existence. Yes, I’m guilty of this too.

When people post on social media about how they are feeling it can come in many forms. Posts are made expressing delight, dissatisfaction, happiness, bragging, and straight up bitching. Aside from the fact that instead of spending their time doing something productive with the forty minutes it took to write a post, we must take into consideration where posts are broadcasted. Public channels.

What does this mean exactly? Well, for one, other people can see these posts. But why is this important to assessing whether or not an individual is adept in the art of wasting time? Posting status updates in a public channel where other people can potentially see it is basically the same thing as screaming:

“I’M HERE! I’M ALIVE! SOMEONE RESPOND TO ME TO MAKE SURE MY CLAIMS OF BEING ALIVE CAN BE CORROBORATED!”

At the surface level, posting status updates can be done in pursuit of social validation. But it goes much deeper than that. The serial social media addict post status updates as a way to validate their existence.

People that post on social media make an observation about their lives and by doing so induce a conscious moment for all of their friends, followers, and would-be adherents to see. This phenomenon is a futile attempt at what P.D. Ouspensky would refer to as “self-remembering.” He defines self-remembering as follows in his book “The Fourth Way” (#19C):

“To remember oneself means the same thing as to be aware of oneself–‘I am.’ Sometimes it comes by itself; it is a strange feeling. It is not a function, not thinking, not feeling; it is a different state of consciousness. By itself it only comes for very short moments, generally in quite new surrounding, and one says to oneself: ‘How strange. I am here.’ This is self remembering; at this moment you remember yourself.”

By posting in social media as a method of existence validation–people are trying not only to make an attempt to remember themselves, but also to get other people to assist them in this process!

wastingtimeFor example, when social justice warriors get offended by the multitude of things that they tend to get offended by they scream from the mountain tops for attention. Are they really offended or are they simply trying to get the Internet to remember that they exist because they had something really “important” to say?

Smartphones–Obliteraters of Consciousness

Do you know anyone in the proverbial “first world” without a smartphone? If you do, they’re probably your grandparents or a conspiracy theorist. Regardless, they’re in the minority. Let’s be honest with ourselves–“first worlders” live in a phone society. Over 61% of Americans own a smartphone. We’re obsessed with staying connected.

With regards to having a social media presence, a smartphone, and how those two relate to self-remembering I would like to pose two questions.

  1. How often do you check your smartphone on a daily basis?
  2. Have you ever forgot your smartphone at home? How did that make you feel?

The New York Daily News ran an anonymous poll in 2012, 84% of the people that responded to the poll said that they couldn’t spend a single day without their smartphones.

People feel naked without their phones because they feel disconnected from everything. It makes our monkey brains feel insecure when we accidentally leave them at home. After all, the world is nastier than ever. By being disconnected, people feel helpless, unsafe, and alone.

Assisted Self-Remembering and the Left-Hand Path

In terms of how this relates to my exploration of the Left-Hand Path I think it’s important to consider the basics.

Dr. Stephen Flowers defines the Left-Hand Path as “the path of nonunion with the objective universe. It is the way of isolating the consciousness within the subjective universe and, in a state of self-imposed psychic solitude, refining the soul or psyche to ever more perfect levels. The objective universe is then made to harmonize itself with the will of the individual psyche instead of the other way around.”

In the strange case of existence validation in social media, I view assisted self-remembering as a very Right-Hand Path mechanism to cope with adversity. By seeking existence validation, you’re seeking to unify yourself with the collective consciousness of would-be “individuals” on the Internet.

As autonomous individuals we must consider how we make use of the tools available to us. However, the user must not become the used.

As the old platitude goes–everything in moderation, but sometimes that just doesn’t work. Especially when it comes to dealing with intense co-dependence on things that should be used as tools to make our lives easier. Social media is a tool, but when we become dependent on it, it can needlessly complicate our lives in a vortex of both wasted time and consciousness.

Some people become so over-involved with their smartphones and their social media presence that they experience “phantom vibration syndrome.” I’ve experienced this first hand. What’s more, is that during the time I was experiencing phantom vibrations I was checking my phone so much that I began to lose sight of the things I actually wanted to do. I was wasting so much time posting cat photos, Twitter drama, and how many likes I could get on my new profile pic. Yeah, I had issues.

My solution? To cut. To be more specific, to cut out social media. 

I was starting to become really disenchanted with Facebook back in August, but because I depended on being constantly connected I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I eventually opted to deactivate my Facebook account for an entire month. During that time, I wrote some bad ass short stories, finished an album, and started vacuuming my apartment more. On top of all that I began to socialize more with actual people! Imagine that. When I came back to Facebook in October I didn’t feel the same about it. I don’t need anyone to help me remember who I am. That’s my goddamn job.

During my glory days of being a social media junkie, my experiences with phantom vibration syndrome was a physical subjective reaction to my consciousness becoming overloaded with stimulation. Mentally, I was malfunctioning. In “The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution” (#19B) Ouspensky writes:

“We cannot become conscious at will, at the moment when we want to, because we have no command over states of consciousness. But we can remember ourselves for a short time, at will because we have a certain command over our thoughts. And if we start remembering ourselves, by the special construction of our thoughts; that is, by the realization that we do not remember ourselves, that nobody remembers himself, and by realizing all that this means, this will bring us to consciousness.”

Smartphones embody what Ouspensky is trying to overstate here. When we carry smartphones it’s a shitty attempt to gain control over our consciousness. We’re aware that a smartphone is in our pocket or purse, and if it’s not there then our monkey brains panic because we’re disconnected and alone. In turn, by abusing social media as a means to assist in remembering ourselves, we stop remembering ourselves.

But why? Because we’re wasting time with bullshit that does nothing to improve our sense of well-being. By over-stimulating our consciousness through our overuse of the social media tool we cause ourselves to malfunction by becoming dependent on assisted self-remembering. In short, we’re making a meaningless expenditure of consciousness that could’ve been spent doing something that we actually wanted to do.

A Closing Thought

I recently discovered that I enjoy going for short hikes in the Sonoran Desert surrounding Tucson. I’m not killing myself when I go out for these hikes–but it’s still exercise. Aside from the obvious physical health benefits of hiking a few miles daily, what does this do for me mentally? It allows me to focus on one thing. The desert. It’s a tranquil experience that I’ve adopted for myself, and it’s become more and more important to me as a means to clear my head of all the negativity I’m surrounded with on a daily basis.

Our brains weren’t meant for the amount of over-stimulation that we get on a daily basis from the Internet void. It’s absolutely impossible to be conscious at all hours of the day. As much as we’d like to convince ourselves otherwise through the illusion of multitasking our direct consciousness is most effectively put to use when we’re focusing on one thing at a time.

It’s important to cut out the things in our lives that hold us back. While we may cut things out of our lives because they are terrible, we must consider why they are terrible–because they prevent us from being autonomous divine life forms.

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Existence Validation as Assisted Self-Remembering in Social Media

It’s Better to Have 25% of a Good Thing than 100% of Nothing: A Trans Woman’s Thoughts on Anton LaVey’s “The Compleat Witch”

My Criticisms of “The Compleat Witch”

devillissy
What to do when virtue fails? Slap on some devil horns and scowl at your iPhone in front of a creepy painting.

I have a few problems with Magus Anton LaVey’s “The Compleat Witch” (#13D)—the most glaring these is his reliance on anecdotal evidence to support his claims of how women can make use of the “Law of the Forbidden” in order to charm both men and women alike. He makes outrageous declarative statements such as “the most effective turn ons will never look staged.” How does this actually work though? And more importantly how does he know this type of statement can be understood to be a fact?
Magus LaVey is relying on two things here to support his claims—(1) the fact that women reading this book are primed to agree with what he’s saying not only because of who he is but because they are looking to make themselves “Compleat Witches” and (2) his claims are supported by compelling the reader to put them into practice.
A blue-haired feminist reading of this boo220px-TheCompleatWitchk would probably dismiss it as being absolutely outrageous. How could he possibly know anything about what it means to be a woman? He never lived as a woman! Magus LaVey is a white cis-gendered male born into a life that invalidates every claim he makes in “The Compleat Witch.” However—from my point of view, I would find the feminist reading of this book to be ill-informed. LaVey is an outsider from the experience of what it means to be a woman. Therefore, he can make observations women can’t make for themselves. In other words, he can see our blind spots.

Aside from his somewhat perverted assertions about how a woman should go about putting the Law of the Forbidden into practice (strategic panty slips) there’s something endearing about how Magus LaVey views what can make a woman charming.

What LaVey never addresses directly in the book is where exactly he lies on the LaVeyan Personality Synthesizer (LPS) clock. The way he writes leads me to believe that he regards himself as an eleven o’clock or twelve o’ clock on LPS. He makes over abundant references to women that have qualities of a five or six o’ clock.

So why is this important?

He believes that it adds to his credibility in a subliminal way by conveying himself to be the all-seeing, all knowing alpha male. People who are naturally leaders fall in between the eleven to one range on the clock. The problem with this is very similar to the feminist argument—how can he know so much about the rest of the positions on the clock when he’s a twelve o’ clock male?

While it would be unfair of me to say that “The Compleat Witch” was written with five to seven o’ clock women in mind, I do get the feeling that his Demonic Minority Self is catering to women in that range on the LPS.

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The LaVeyan Personality Synthesizer

The LaVeyan Personality Synthesizer as Applied to Gender Transition

Magus LaVey’s work in “The Compleat Witch” is very female positive in a back-handed sort of way—he does constantly acknowledge that not all women are bombshells, but he does make an effort to point out ways to improve. This includes all types of women. The LaVeyan Personality Synthesizer was included in this book to not only address diversity issues that may arise from his sometimes biased suggestions but also as check and balance to his own claims on what works and what doesn’t work in the application of “The Law of the Forbidden.”

To me, the most interesting aspect of “The Compleat Witch” were a few very brief mentions of where transgender individuals fall on the LPS. Considering when this book was written, I find it interesting (and progressive!) that LaVey included this detail.

He writes, “the woman most prone to stereotyped lesbian activities is the twelve o’clock. The man most likely to fit the established image of the homosexual is the six o’clock. All types, however, have their respective homosexual counterparts. This simply implies that a twelve woman and a six man are ideally suited for sexual interchange and often are transsexuals. When a sex change operation is performed, it is most complete and successful in these individuals.” I wish that LaVey explored this more fully, but based on his writings in (#13D) I have come to an understanding as to how transsexuality interacts with his system. I’ve come to this understanding because of my own personal life experiences as both a transgender woman and also as compleat witch.

As a male I wasn’t exactly the paragon of all things alpha—on the LPS I was on the lower spectrum of the clock, probably a solid five o’clock or five-thirty. I had always been the more subdued outsider struggling to be the alpha I wasn’t. During that time in my life my Demonic Minority Self was a strong female figure—which is something I wrestled with prior to the start of my transition at nineteen in 2005. What I find interesting about how the LaVeyean Personality Synthesizer applies to my transition is how my Demonic Minority Self as a male surfaced to the top and became my Majority Self as a woman.

To me, this makes sense because as we transition to our new gender identity we still stay the same in many respects. If I now embody the identity of an eleven o’clock female, my former male self (a 5 o’clock) becomes my new Demonic Minority.

demonic
By the nature of what it takes to transition, transgender women are primed and ready to become compleat witches out of the box. A very curious excerpt from the “Sex Magic without Sanctimony” section of Magus LaVey’s book further supports this idea:

“The emphasis on the power of strong contrast is supplied by the fact that you are ‘dressed up’ in all the readily visible areas of your body while totally naked under your coat. The same element is present in the incongruity of mingling with people who are clothed while you are naked in an unstated environment. If this does not present a feeling of self-consciousness, you’ll never make it as a witch, for you lack the emotional response of the individuals on who you would be working your magic. If you are so alien to other’s emotional responses, I would recommend you give up on trying to be a witch or else take a few lessons from a Martian or Venusian who has learned to ‘pass.’ The Law of the Forbidden is subjectively practice in your constant awareness of your outrageous behavior.”

Transgender women, especially at the beginning of our transitions are easily recognizable by those around us as being both different and unnatural. Most people aren’t stupid. Mode of dress, the voice, facial structure, and height are huge giveaways for the would-be male bodied individual making the attempt to “pass.” Trans-women are self-conscious by our very nature—and this adds to our power. The aspect to this that I find most interesting—is that by going out into the world to operate as our Demonic Minority Self as opposed to what we are naturally, we employ Magus LaVey’s Law of the Forbidden not only against other people but also against ourselves. The power that we draw from our self-conscious behaviors is therefore doubled because of this phenomenon.

If was born into this world as a five o’clock male then my Demonic Minority Self would be that of an eleven o’clock female. As a five o’clock male I was attracted to the idea of becoming my Demonic Minority Self because of how attractive she was to my sensibilities. She was everything I wasn’t. Assertive, pretty, outgoing, and extroverted. Because I was attracted to the eleven o’clock woman, my sense of self-consciousness was amplified when I finally summoned the courage to go out into the world. I was attracted to myself, but also shy of myself—and therefore working the Law of the Forbidden…upon myself. Because I adopted this identity that wasn’t what other people perceived to be my Majority Self as a male that also caused me to become even more self-conscious by projecting the Law of the Forbidden onto those people.

I remember as a young twenty year old trans-woman back in 2006, believing that I was passing as female one hundred percent of the time. I thought that my size and age made me untouchable. I thought I could wear anything without being clocked as trans. How wrong was I? I was making huge fashion mistakes, like wearing pants way too tight, too much makeup, etc. I was aware of this in a subliminal sort of way, but I was made more aware of it when other people pointed out my many fashion oversights.

LaVey writes, “In utilizing the Law of the Forbidden, you can make many of the things you do appear as though you were unaware of them happening. Thus, you will be employing a double threat by your proper and conducive choice of garments and also by your apparent lack of knowledge of your exposure.”

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The difference between what he’s suggesting here, and what I was going through early on in my transition is that I wasn’t acting like I was unaware of my fashion fubars. I actually wasn’t aware at all! So when LaVey says “the most effective turn ons will never looked staged,” the fact that I was going out to bars with pants on so tight that my cock ’n balls were poking out of one of my pant legs while dressed like a woman—this potential turn on wasn’t staged. I wasn’t acting, because I wasn’t aware. So when I was getting unwanted attention by would-be tranny chasers trying to bed me, I was genuinely drawing power from their awareness of my difference from all the other “girls” at the club.

Magus LaVey writes that “The power of the vampire lies in that no one believes him.” At the onset, this rule is one-hundred percent true when it comes to dealing with other people as a trans-woman. In the beginning, no one actually believes—including yourself, that you’re a woman. A lot of our power as trans-women is drawn from this knowledge, and as we become more aware of ourselves we can use this to our benefit should we decide to venture down the path of the compleat witch

It’s Better to Have 25% of a Good Thing than 100% of Nothing: A Trans Woman’s Thoughts on Anton LaVey’s “The Compleat Witch”