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?
I 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!
For 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.
- How often do you check your smartphone on a daily basis?
- 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.