Thursday, 16 October 2014

Life After Digital shows Need to bring Balance to the Dark Side

Video: How digital technology and social media impacts our lives
Credit: TVO 
“That Place…is strong with the Dark Side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. In you must go.
[Luke: What’s in there?] Only what you take with you.”
~ George Lucas via Yoda, Star Wars
Image: Social Media Hell 

Everything has a dark side. Unfortunately, there’s only one way to get past it…we have to descend into it, experience it, go through it, so we may discover something about ourselves and emerge into the light on the other side.

Digital technology and social media are having impacts on our lives no one could have ever imagined or predicted.  People are finding themselves descending into depths of darkness and depravity that are beyond disturbing—they are life-altering (in some cases terminally) experiences.

Last night TV Ontario aired a documentary: Life After Digital, which not only looked at the rise of interactive technology in our lives, but the emergence of social media and the impacts they are having on us. Some positive, others anything but.

From the tragic, much-publicized case of online predation and cyber-bullying which led to the suicide of Amanda Todd, to the emergence of “revenge porn,” the documentary obviously looked at some pretty dark extremes.

But it also looked at some of the more subtle yet ubiquitous effects of technology on our lives. For instance, the allure of the Internet as a shortcut to fame and/or fortune. Or the lingering anxiety we feel for the approval of others measured in “friends, followers, and likes.”   

You can watch the documentary online here. Also, be sure to watch The Agenda with Steve Paikin TONIGHT on TVO (Thursday 16th of October, 8pm & 11pm) for an in-depth panel discussion on the issues raised in the documentary.

Image: The Agenda with Steve Paikin 

For our part, we thought we’d get our two cents in ahead of time, by going a bit deeper into this thing called the worldwide web and ask some tough questions.

A Mirror for Humanity

For starters, is it not obvious that the worldwide web is an outward expression of the collective unconscious of the planet? Two glaringly obvious facts support this assertion of truth:
  1. Everything on the Internet came from someone’s mind at some point in time.
  2. Everything that persists on the Internet does so because it appeals to something in people’s minds. Not just one or two people, either…thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands (or more).

This is not an easy fact to swallow. But a fact it is. Wishing it were otherwise or pretending that somehow we are exempt from it does not change it. We are culpable. We are not innocent.

After all, have we not all chuckled at some Internet meme, at a YouTube “fail” video featuring the mishaps and suffering of others? Have we not all sent nasty emails or “flamed” someone in a comment?  Downloaded “free” music, movies, software, etc.? Indulged in fantasies of every kind, from real or simulated violence to real or simulated pornography to…[fill in the blanks]?

And if not, have we congregated online with like-minded individuals to point fingers, condemn all that is wrong with the world and assert our own “holier than thou” positions of being “in the right?”  

All that and more is there, online. And all that and more is here, inside our own psyche. The thing about technology is that it brings our dark side up and out of us.
“He’s more machine now, then man…twisted and evil.”
~ George Lucas via Obi Wan Kenobi, Star Wars
Image: Darth Vader Mosaic 

We are products of our environment, and we are what we eat. The more we interact with each other and the world through the mechanistic medium of digital technology and social media, the more we strengthen the binary, mechanical processes in our own psyche: black or white, yes or no, right or wrong, us or them. Action– reaction. Stimulus – response. Input, output.  Automatic. Unconscious.

There is no middle way in technology. No softness, no kindness, no compassion, nothing gentle. Forget the soothing voice of Apple’s Siri…there is no love there. Just programming. The more we engage in programming, the more programmed we become. It is a fact. It is undeniable.

And what is that programming? What is running on the program of our subconscious mind? We need look no further than the Internet: conspiracy theories, personal professional and philosophical attacks, revenge porn, identity theft, hacking, binge-watching, time-wasting, etc. Fear, anger, pride, lust, greed, laziness, etc. 

The more identified we become with technology, the more it becomes a part of us…the more it becomes us…the more we become it. We lose our humanity in the process. Don’t believe us? Just consider the new wearables and the enthusiastic anticipation—if not outright euphoria—being expressed online for the arrival of these gadgets and devices.

Image (modified): Montage of Wearable Technologies 

What’s even worse is the pseudo-esoteric talk of the “singularity” being promoted by the likes of Raymond Kurzweil and others, who actually see the evolution of humanity taking place through the proliferation of the very technologies that threaten our core values.

Is there an antidote?

There has always been a place of refuge from the monstrosities imposed on humanity which emerge from the depths of human depravity itself: nature.

Many have expounded on the virtues of nature to soothe and invigorate, inspire and insight, relax and rejuvenate, to help one reconnect with one’s true self. And we certainly don’t need to repeat ourselves for the umpteenth time. 

We will mention that in recent years, the natural havens and sanctuaries of the world are becoming an ever-scarcer resource, as multinational corporations and our voracious appetites for consumption have placed a higher valued on “natural resources” via the decimation of pristine environments.

And let’s face it, living our life at the speed of the digital age means we don’t all have the time or energy to spend walking in nature an hour a day (especially not when we have a backlog of hundreds of emails, dozens of IM’s, countless tweets, several episodes of our favourite show on the PVR we need to catch up on…not to mention the vacation pics to post and the latest version of “this or that” software to download and install).

ENOUGH ALREADY! If we can’t get away into nature, how about inviting nature back into our lives?

An indoor ecosystem fills our living space with an electromagnetic field resonating with harmony and symbiosis…the exact opposite of the vibrations we experience in social media hell.

Where social media is all often about everybody expressing their “opinions” in short, reactionary, oftentimes offensive ways, an indoor ecosystem is about experiencing the peace and harmony of who you really are. 

Where the internet is all about bringing out and feeding the darker aspects of our psyche, the ecosystem is about bringing forth and nourishing our better, brighter, Higher Self…the part of us which longs for the end of all suffering for all creatures…for calm, wellness, peace, harmony, joy and happiness.

These are the “killer apps” of an indoor rainforest ecosystem from PeapodLife.  

Image by Peapodlife: Indoor Ecoystem at Fitch Street Retirement Centre, Welland

So our answer to Life after Digital? Live the PeapodLife.

You don’t have to go live in a swamp like Yoda to surround yourself with the life-force of nature. Bring balance to the forces at work in your life. Immerse yourself in lush beautiful nature. It sure beats living on another kind of world…

Image: Death Star

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