I signed up on Facebook in late 2007. That was around 11 years ago. My then teenage brother and sister were using it, and a few times sent me invitations to join. I eventually took a look at it, thought it might be a useful to stay in contact with them (we lived in different countries), and signed up in order familiarise myself with what was at that time a relatively new technology. I am guessing I set up a Twitter account around that time too, as part of promoting a book I was publishing, and sharing my online articles. To this day they are both systems I am inherently very particular about my use of.
This article is an overview of a few of my reasons for that, and is an introduction to what I consider to be the dark side of social networking systems (and many other digital and Internet enabled technologies).
In the 11 years I’ve had a Facebook account I’ve refrained from posting personal information about myself, about what I am up to, what I am eating, where I am or plan to go, or anything along those lines. Basically, anything that is overtly about my “personal life” offline. For example, I’ve travelled extensively and lived in many interesting countries in those 11 years—something many people would share extensively online—,yet I made the choice to not post about my travels on Facebook (or any other form of so-called “social” media). I preferred to remain fully present to my day-to-day experiences, without the mental and technological intrusion of compulsively sharing it with some vague online audience.
Up until around 2010 I didn’t have any photos of me online, although this started proving a bit challenging for people wishing to visually identify me and check me out (especially people considering attending my workshops, retreats, etc.). So at one point I selected one picture, and that’s the one I used for online profiles, on fliers, etc. Some years later I updated it, to the one you see of me now. I know there will come a time when a lot more pictures and videos of me will be online, but for now I’ve elected to minimise my exposure through that medium.
My use of social media is mostly limited to automatically distributing articles published to my web site, and sharing information and media that I feel is worthy of people’s attention. I share the occasional joke, to keep a bit of humour in the mix. I also occasionally check on what my friends are sharing, if something pops up that I am interested in. I do this to stay abreast of some of what’s going on in the world, although I realise that since Facebook filter a great deal of what we each see through their system, it’s it’s potentially a fairly biased glimpse of friends are sharing.
So why do I make such specific and limited use of “social media” sites?
Time is precious
The main reason is that time is precious, and I have a lot to focus on without my mind being constantly hooked into the distraction of endless information passing through social media sites. There are certainly times when I experience the desire to reach out and connect with people around the world who I see have similar interests to myself. But so far I’ve found it’s not a particularly fulfilling or useful way to have meaningful relationships with people. Even with people I know, including family, I’ve found technological methods of staying in contact over long distances is just not my thing.
The Artificial Matrix
In some of my other articles and talks I’ve mentioned the artificial matrix. I’ll also touch on it below. Here I’ll simply say that from my perspective, much of humanity is progressively being misdirected and deceived into investing inordinate amounts of their time and energy into engaging with an entirely artificial world. Even our engagement with other natural living human beings is mostly conducted through that life-less artificial world and its technological systems. It seems to me that this, combined with many other aspects of Modernity, is tearing apart the very fabric of human community and deep meaningful connection, association, and collective creativity. Sure, technology an also be used to bring forth connections among people that would otherwise not be possible. Even you reading this article is made possible by Internet based technology. This is exactly why I use it very selectively, rather than compulsively.
When it becomes a compulsion, even an addiction (as is often the case), then I suspect it’s use has swayed to the dark side, to a place of unconsciousness.
From a shamanic perspective, every time we draw attention to ourselves, we are drawing upon the life-force of others. There’s nothing inherently “good” or “bad” about that, yet I find it’s something worth being conscious of. It’s simply a fundamental aspect of how nature functions. Where your attention goes, life-force flows. The more personal and intimate the attention (or the subject of the attention, such a my “personal” life), the stronger and more influential the flow of life-force is likely to be. It’s a principle I’ve been consciously aware of since sometime in my early teens, and is why ever since then I’ve tended to share things with people on a mostly need-to-know basis. If people don’t need to know something about me, like where I am currently located and what I am doing or about to eat (for example), then I generally see no reason to share that with them.
Consequently, I wouldn’t be surprised if over the years some people have deemed me to be an intensely private, aloof, or oddly mysterious individual. I’m okay with that. The payoff is that it reduces the amount of psychic noise and interference I have to deal with. Less psychic noise means greater inner stillness within which to “hear” and notice the subtle and sublime conversation my soul is constantly having with nature, with my own spirit, and with the Power that creates me.
Over the years I’ve had large numbers of people tell me they can’t meditate, or feel inwardly calm, or find any inner peace or rest because there is so much chatter constantly going on in their head. What many people don’t realise is that much of what they experience emotionally and mentally is not a product of one’s own self. It’s noise coming in from the psychic ethers, from the collective psyche. That’s something I’ve barely had to deal with over the years. Most of the time, my mind space is relatively quiet. Also, on hundreds of occasions I have discovered that when I do have people related thoughts pass through my mind space, or find myself having an internal dialogue with someone, it almost invariably correlates to thoughts that person is having about me, or something Spirit is revealing to me about that person or situation, or something I am communicating to someone as a soul (and might later communicate with them in person).
Simply put, the less psychic interference I have to deal with on a moment-to-moment basis, the more I can attune to what’s deeper, more insightful, and more meaningful to me. Without all the excess psychic noise, I can more readily attune to and hear what is naturally emerging from the metaphysical background of my daily reality. This also makes it easier to deeply “listen” to the people I am having face-to-face relationships with. Which means I can be of greater service to them through the course of our relationship.
Aside from the constant noise and interference that tends to come with excessive unconscious attention from lots of random people, there’s also the issue of our own attention being hi-jacked, and the potential subtle infiltration that can occur from being an unconscious recipient of the hi-jacked attention of others.
I propose that attention deficit disorder affects the vast majority of people living in and conditioned by Modernity.
As I’ve pointed out in numerous articles and public talks, the hi-jacking of Man’s precious attention is one of the fundamental issues at the crux of humanity’s current downfall. I’m not going to get into the details of that here, as it’s a massive topic. What’s relevant though, is that digital devices are currently the number one medium through which ordinary Man’s attention is being compromised and hi-jacked on a huge scale. Remember, where your attention goes, your life-force flows. From my perspective, there’s a reason we have (in English) the phrase, “To pay attention.” We literally make payments of energy through the use of our attention. Are those payments being received (or taken) by something that is life-affirming or life-degrading? Are they being used for something that elevates and celebrates the divine magnificence of life, or something that is essentially exploitative and anti-life?
What I have observed in the past 30 years or so is that, for the most part, a huge amount of human life-force is being harvested and mis-directed into anti-life constructs through the hi-jacking of our attention. The consequences of this are massive, and I suspect it’s safe to say this is something very very few people have any awareness of. On a personal level the most significant consequences are that it burns people out, and energetically wears them down. Their capacity for spiritual insight, creativity, true intelligence, vibrant health, and conscious presence in the world is massively, if not entirely, diminished.
On a collective level, our hi-jacked life-force is being utilised by adversarial forces that are intent of degrading the Earth, undermining the spiritual potential of humanity, and basically taking over and controlling Life on Earth. We see the effects of this all around us, in what’s commonly related to as environmental collapse (aka. the sixth extinction event we’re in the midst of), the prevalence of social disharmony, the collapse of human health, rampant media and political deception, and the psychotic corporate exploitation of the Earth and all life on Earth. That same life-force, when consciously directed, has the potential to feed, nourish, build, and sustain a world very different from the one humanity is presently responsible for unconsciously and destructively “creating”. It is this precious human life-force that is essentially missing from the equation of life on Earth at this time.
As I see it, the collective addiction to Internet systems and digital technology, and to social media applications, is playing a massive role in the subversion of Man’s natural state of Being and intelligent (i.e., life-affirming) creativity. It is unplugging us (and our flow of precious life-force) from the natural living matrix of Mother Nature, and hooking us into an artificial matrix that is hell-bent on Man becoming completely lost in abject materialism (i.e., total loss of consciousness of Spirit).
Another major issue I see with so-called “social” media is that it is inherently anti-social. Rather than building up social intimacy and coherency, and supporting deeply enriching human community, I see it mostly doing the exact opposite. In most cases where people believe it is making their life more social and helping them to “build community” I suspect they only believe this because they have been raised and conditioned since birth within an artificial world in which they have likely never experienced deep, enriching, and spiritually engaging community and connection. It’s like this: If I’ve only been fed horse shit all my life, and one day someone starts giving me expired mouldy Twinky bars to eat, I am likely to believe I have struck the jack-pot and that I am now eating really amazing food compared to the crap I had for the past 40 years. It’s all relative.
So, in this case, the way I see it, “social” media platforms only seem “social” in a world in which true community, rich social interaction, deep sacred alliance with each other and with Nature, common purpose and creative collaboration, and deep human and spiritual bonding is almost totally absent.
Ironically, it’s not that long ago countries like the United States were seriously concerned about their way of life being taken over by socialism and communism. Yet here we today, and what’s left is a way of life that is grossly anti-social, anti-communal and anti-community.
Our Stollen Future
As many studies have now proven, our use of Internet enabled technologies and social applications is highly addictive. Social applications like Facebook are actually engineered to be as addictive as possible. By allowing them to use digital devices, many parents are unwittingly raising their children to be life-long drug addicts. In many cases, in very significant ways, it’s hardly any different to parents regularly handing out lines of coke or hits of methamphetamine to their children. That may sound like a dramatic over-statement, but unfortunately an increasing number of scientific studies indicate it’s not.
Digital device addiction is one of the many ways we are literally stealing our children’s future. It’s not just systems like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We can include in this online gaming, excessive movie and media consumption, television, and general Internet surfing. We are incapacitating our children in their ability to live, feel, think, and function naturally, intelligently, creatively, and holistically.
When I post or share something online—be that on my web site, or via Facebook, etc.—I make a point of asking myself the following question:
If at the end of this life I were to receive a detailed account of all the many ways in which I have been responsible for redirecting people’s attention (and therefore their life-force), and if I was then required to balance that account out if it’s in debt (due to misdirecting attention to things that resulted in a waste or misappropriation of life-force), is this something I actually want to be accountable for?
I ask a similar question with regard to what I devote my attention to, or what I pay attention to.
In simpler terms: Will paying attention to, or drawing other people’s attention to, XYZ add to the quality and essence of universal LIFE, or distract from and degrade it?
Here’s the catch: According to the majority of spiritual and indigenous traditions I am familiar with, spanning from present day back to pre-history, such an account of life-force use and mis-use really does exist. But that, my friend, is a subject for exploring at another time.
Worthy of your attention
The following videos convey what I consider to be important points in relation to the negative side of social networking (and digital media, etc.). In the above article I’ve gone mostly into the deeper or metaphysical side of this subject. These videos look at it from a more superficial but equally important perspective. I trust you’ll find them worthy of your attention, and it is my wish they provide stimulus for positive change.
The Effects of Social Networking
Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace (re: our stollen future)
The One Thing Only 1% of People Do
A motivation video espousing the fundamental importance of self-discipline. Keep in mind, to be disciplined is essentially to be consistent in directing your attention (life-force) to that which is in alignment with your deepest and most valued intentions.