Welcome to the YouTopian Journey. Each week I will be sharing unique wisdom as well as a more in-depth overview of the artwork that is featured on the Instagram @youtopianjourney. This week we discuss the dangers of a mechanized mind and why it is essential for you to avoid this hazard!
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THE ADDICTION OF THE SCREEN
“The growth of technology, of the manifold mechanical instruments in the services of our fantasies, has thrown mankind back to an infantile dream of unlimited power. There he sits, the little man, in his room with various gadgets around him. Just pushing a button changes the world for him. What might! And what still further power he envisions! Yet what mental danger.”-Joost A.M. Meerloo, The Rape of the Mind
We are a people of addictions.
Entertainment, shopping, pleasure, drugs, alcohol, glory, and of course, fame and notoriety.
But the greatest addiction?
The addiction that compels and controls every aspect of our existence?
Technology is the drug of choice, and we are all getting high on the purest product that it offers, social media.
We binge drink Facebook.
We mainline Instagram.
We snort Snapchat.
We pop Twitter.
And we take deep hits of TikTok.
All available at a moment’s notice and for free.
We do anything for this high. And the best part? It is accepted. Anytime and anywhere, feel free to look at your phone and jack in. Whether it be the classroom or the board room, this high is within one’s grasp.
While there are campaigns against smoking, alcohol, and drug use, social media has gotten a pass. It was only this past week that a whistleblower blew the lid on what many of us knew all along, that social media can be just as damaging to the mind as these illicit substances!
But it is much more than that. Minds have become warped and twisted and we have changed. We have become nothing more than data. Our humanity is reduced to our browsing habits and shopping desires. We are molded not by role models, heroes of myth and legend, or figures of respect and honor, but by algorithms. People have become nothing more than pawns to big technology companies who have engineered their products to keep them hooked in a constant war for attention.
Eyeballs and engagement over morals and the safety of the user.
The multitude remain chained to their devices and severed from reality. Nothing else matters to these people. All that is imperative is the pull of the herd who share their views, the promotion and pursuit of a false lifestyle, and the growth of their brand.
The brand, their personal brand, is all that matters.
Clout and clicks are the new goals of human evolution.
The result is damaging. The masses pay little attention to the outside world. Instead of looking up at the stars, they stare down at the phone, being influenced by the constant stimuli that their devices provide. Inform them of this and they will take offense. Take away their phone and grown adults will react as children. There is even a term for this, nomophobia.
This is a fatal addiction, one that is in plain sight, but few admit to being a victim of.
Attempt to preach and you will be seen as an enemy. Talk sense to a fool and they will call you foolish. Try and do your best to showcase the harm and you will be viewed as a boomer, a luddite, an anachronistic and irrelevant idiot who is out of touch with the world.
But is this the world you want to live in?
A world where your every click is tracked so advertisements can target you.
A world where disinformation reigns supreme and user gullibility is at an all-time high.
A world of narcissistic behavior.
A world where you can find your tribe, your herd, your people, no matter how silly or wrong your beliefs may be. Where dangerous fantasies and foolishness is not only encouraged but rewarded.
A world where mediocrity and inferiority are celebrated and promoted.
A world of high tech and low life.
A world where the last man is omnipresent.
“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”-Rose Luxemburg
I often joke that Galileo was persecuted for preaching that the Earth revolved around the sun. Now you will be persecuted for telling someone that the Earth doesn’t revolve around them!
People fail to realize that without a clear aim, the mind is pulled in a variety of directions by our technology and the false trappings of social media. The distractions that technology provides is too strong of a pull, so many cannot resist. Without a deep sense of meaning and purpose, man becomes nothing more than a butterfly, floating from one app to another, one social media offering after the next, with no clear destination or purpose. Time is wasted, energy is sapped, and before one realizes it, they have become a mere shell of a human being.
And why not? Technology is welcoming. Technology is fun. It makes us feel good. It makes us feel powerful. Everything in the world can be summoned at a moment’s notice. Food, transportation, lodging, advice, entertainment, everything is available!
Everything but success.
Everything can be shared except the profits.
Everything can be called upon except victory over one’s obstacles.
“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”-Vince Lombardi
What are we left with? A false sense of accomplishment and a lack of will.
Because instead of commanding our technology, it commands us. It compels us to speak, to take part in the conversation, to debate, to act, all from the safety of the screen. This has resulted in countless debates over truth and fact, where viral videos with false information are accepted and truth has not only become a casualty, but a rare and precious element. This has brought us to a mental health cataclysm, where modern man is unable to cope, lost among the din of the digital masses. The relevance of the individual, their entire existence, is placed in the hands of the multitude, in the positive feedback of hearts, likes, and shares. This is no way to live nor is it a proper path for a healthy and successful life!
We were not made for this world. A world of lethargy, a world of existing behind screens, giving up our uniqueness and giving into conformity. We were not made to be a brand, where our lives have to be cultivated and packaged for the consumption of the mediocre majority. We were not made for a world of TikTok cults and Twitter arguments or to be a leading member of a virtual clan. We were not made to be keyboard warriors but warriors in the battle of life! We were made for action, for striving, and for the adventure that is life. We were made to excel, to fly, to survive using our innate abilities. We were made for growth! Not the growth of clout and followers, but for personal growth. The growth of our minds and our inherent powers.
This has become harder than ever before. It seems that everyone is promoting a false lifestyle, a brand, or a sponsored good. More damaging, they are promoting fake happiness and success that many will never reach, especially not without hard work, setbacks, and sacrifice.
“A culture as manically and massively materialistic as ours creates materialistic behavior in its people, especially in those people who've been subjected to nothing but the destruction of imagination that this culture calls education, the destruction of autonomy it calls work, and the destruction of activity it calls entertainment.”-James Hillman, We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy & the World's Getting Worse
Let me be clear. I am not a luddite. I am not advocating a return to the dark ages of isolated villages and subsistence farming. I am advocating a return to decency, a return to respecting others, and a sense of realism for the world around you. I am advocating a return to listening to others, empathizing with others, and helping others. I am advocating for a world where people have meaningful experiences that uplift themselves and others, not for the sake of impressing strangers. This is all impossible when one is connected to a phone twenty-four hours a day and cares for nothing other than themselves, their own brand, and their own image.
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”-Albert Einstein
AVOID THE TRAP OF THE LAST MAN
“The growth of technology may confuse man’s struggle for mental maturity. The practical application of science and tools originally were meant to give man more security against outside physical forces. It safeguarded his inner world; it freed time and energy for meditation, concentration, play, and creative thinking. Gradually the very tools man made took possession of him and pushed him back into serfdom instead of toward liberation. Man became drunk with technical skill; he became a technology addict. Technology calls forth from people, unknown to themselves, an infantile, servile attitude.”-Joost A.M. Meerloo, The Rape of the Mind
In the seminal book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote of the last man. This is an individual who has become comfortable with their own mediocrity. Rather than take the risks required for personal growth, the last man seeks nothing more than to consume and earn their living. For the last man, there is no more dreaming, no more striving, no more suffering for a self-chosen goal. Instead, they have comfort, ease, and warmth. The result?
The individual suffers.
The chaos that we all have within, the chaos that we must attend to, the chaos needed for creation and personal growth, the chaos required for greatness to be birthed, has been replaced.
“I tell you: one must still have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: ye have still chaos in you. Alas! There cometh the time when man will no longer give birth to any star. Alas! There cometh the time of the most despicable man, who can no longer despise himself.”-Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
This replacement has only expanded upon the emptiness that we must all contend with. A vast inner void. In the past, the dreamer filled this void with purpose. The multitude chose to fill the void with alcohol, drugs, and shopping. Now the void is filled by social media and the offerings of technology. Countless people across the world have banded together to say the same things, think the same thoughts, promote the same products, and mimic the same behavior.
“No herdsman and one herd. Everyone wants the same thing, everyone is the same: whoever thinks otherwise goes voluntarily into the madhouse.”-Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Being on the side of the majority does not mean righteousness. Following the same path as the majority does not mean it is the correct path. It is not the right thing to do because everyone seems to be doing it. People are often swept up in the sheer numbers of the last man because walking your own path is dangerous but having a sense of belonging is blissful, even if counting yourself as a member of the nameless multitude is the antithesis of what you stand for.
“The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make these people sane.”-Erich Fromm, The Sane Society
The last man is here. The last man may even be us. This is the hazard of hazards. The last man is no goal for a free individual who wants to chart their own path and leave their mark on the world. I fear that countless ideas have become extinct before they truly started, with many people losing heart and quitting at the very start of their journey.
Because we have been accustomed to having our ideas and passions evaluated by social media instead of a gut feeling that we know to be a million times more accurate. We allow strangers that we will never meet to determine our course of action. We grant them access to our dreams, hoping that with their support, we will be able to take action and reach our goals. However, if they fail to offer their support, if they respond negatively, where does that leave us? This is not the path of one who dares to dream. This is the path of the last man. You must avoid this path, despite the warm comfort that it deceptively offers.
“Be noble minded! Our own heart, and not other men's opinions of us, forms our true honor.”-Friedrich Schiller
Be noble minded in the face of the difficulties and obstacles! That is the true path of the dreamer and the antithesis of the last man. The dreamer is the individual who goes forth in spite of the monumental difficulties that await those who deviate from the status quo. Because once you make an attempt to deviate from this world you will be thought as the fool. It is you who will be thought as the insane one. It is you who will be the target.
And a person cannot stand such pressure.
You will still remain the target for speaking the truth.
“People will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.”-Aldous Huxley
You will stand out.
You may find yourself isolated.
You may find yourself alone.
And you will have to remain on this course for an indeterminate amount of time.
It will be difficult. It may be dangerous. But it is necessary.
You cannot fall into the trap of the last man. You cannot become a mere drone, a nameless number, a blind follower.
You must not!
You are unique, not a mere clone of someone else. You have the capacities of a full human being, not some mere puppet that dances at the pulling of strings. You have infinite potential, which once awakened and properly positioned, can change your world. This potential allows you to walk your path and truly dedicate yourself to your cause. This requires grit, patience, and a dedication that will change you as a person, for the better! It is life altering in ways that sadly, the multitude will never understand. They will never realize that you are attempting to fly, because they are bound to crawling. They will never comprehend the mountain that you are attempting to scale, because they cannot look up from their phone and gaze upon the difficulty and the magnificence of it all. They will never understand the passion that drives you to attempt the impossible, what is in their eyes, “foolish, a waste of time, stupid, and pointless.”
You were made to forge your own path. To command technology and use it to achieve your goals rather than remain a slave. Realize that the path with no obstacles leads nowhere nor do the winds of calm take you to any worthy destination. It is only through the difficulties and challenges of life that heroes are born, that the individual can rise to the challenge and test their mettle. A boring and safe life of ease is not meant for the dreamer, that is the world of the last man.
The dreamer requires difficulties and an age of strife as that is when true heroism is born in the unlikeliest of people!
Command yourself to keep pressing forward, regardless of the crowd. Demand that you go your own way, even at the cost of your followers and peers. Demand something higher of yourself, something more than what social media offers. Continue to put one foot in front of the other, never reversing course, only stopping to take a break and reflect. It is then, and only then, that you will realize how far you have come. You will find yourself at heights that were once impossible to envision. More importantly, you will see that the last man has remained chained in place. And despite all their concerns, their insults, their negativity, their drama, and their attempts at thwarting your progress, they won’t even notice that you are gone.
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”- Goethe
COMMAND YOUR TECHNOLOGY
“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”-Carl Sagan
It is time to take charge, because only you can take action.
It is time to promote yourself, because no one else in this society will.
It is time to make yourself the commander of your life, of your devices, of your content.
It is time to break free from the evaluations and opinions of others.
It is time to retake control.
Retake control of your life’s direction.
Retake control of your thoughts and feelings.
Retake control of yourself.
You must unplug from the technology that commands you. You must ignore the beckoning call of your notifications. You must retreat into yourself and become lost in deep thought. You must explore the innate possibilities of your mind. This is not a trifling choice but is a requirement for a mandatory metamorphosis of the mind!
You have an inner call, some vocation that beckons you. Use your technology responsibly and find it. While it is impossible to totally free yourself completely from your devices, it is possible to command them. If you cannot change your world immediately, you can still change your cage gradually.
Use social media to your advantage, following not people or brands, but sources of knowledge, motivation, and inspiration. Stand on the shoulders of giants and have your feed filled with the quotes of philosophers, scientists, thinkers, and leaders of the past and present. For example, you can follow our Twitter for art and quotes from some of history’s greatest individuals.
Use YouTube as I use it, as a tuition free university for life. Attend lectures on subjects that interest you. Teach yourself new skills. Listen to music to help inspire and motivate you. Treat your day as if you were a student, blocking out certain hours for learning.
Fill your devices with audio books or ebooks. If you are going to look down at your phone, get some benefit from it. Read poetry, learn about a country you want to visit, study the biography of someone you admire, peruse the art of the renaissance, do something to elevate yourself and use your time wisely!
Subscribe to other newsletters and blogs that can add value to your life. There are great writers out there (I have featured many throughout YouTopian Journey) who you can subscribe to for free. Some write daily and others write weekly, but all can provide you some knowledge that can help you become just a little better, a little wiser, and a little stronger.
Take long walks and be alone with your ideas. Leave your devices behind. Take in the city, the parks, and the nature that surrounds you. Keep active with your movement and your thoughts. It is better to wear out your soles than your soul.
You have all the tools needed to create a better you and make your goals a reality. You have all of human history and knowledge at your fingertips. You are the commander of your life, the CDO, chief direction officer of your story.
This is not an instantaneous process, but it must happen in order for you to make progress.
“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”-Winston Churchill
Avoid the drama that social media offers. Evade the herd mentality of the last man. Eschew the notifications and pings of the screen in favor of what truly matters to you.
Society is counting on you.
I am counting on you.
Be the commander of your technology and create the person that we all need you to become.
“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority. But to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”-Marcus Aurelius
CRAMP YOUR CRANIUM
I truly believe that the best advantage one can have in this world is to be armed with knowledge. Cole's Climb is a newsletter about hard-won wisdom from the outdoors. While I talk of metaphorical mountains, Cole climbs physical mountains and shares his insights.
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I’m Shaun Gold and if you are reading this, you are already on your journey. Catch you next week.