don’t hate the media, become the media

Last week I happened upon an unexpected sight: an urban labyrinth. I was walking to work on my favourite bridge, when I noticed the spiral design on the grassy bank below. Funnily enough, this was virtually the same place I spotted a random black (lucky) rabbit a few years ago.

The irony wasn’t lost on me that, in my hurry, I quickly took a photo and moved on. For it’s my understanding that labyrinths are contemplative in nature, meant to be walked purposefully, symbolizing the journey to the centre of oneself.

Several years ago, I competed a program in Digital Communications. Here we learned about all aspects of social media and design. I enjoyed the training and excitedly wrote about it here on this blog.

I’ve been pondering this experience a lot lately, because my views on technology have changed so much since then. I won’t repeat what I’ve shared in more recent posts, but suffice it to say that I’ve limited my time on social media, eliminating the platform that drained the most energy.

I’m also becoming increasingly aware of, and disturbed by, the extent to which certain sites are intentionally designed to encourage addiction and consumption through use of colour, design, and various other manipulative tactics.

So much of this happens at an unconscious level. I’ve observed my own tendency to automatically reach for my phone or mindlessly surf when I’m waiting for…anything. This mindlessness, this habitual stimulus-response pattern, feels dangerous.

What are the consequences of having our emotions and brain chemistry played with? How does it affect our ability to create true community, consciousness, and empathy? Is technology bringing to light our darkness, or creating it through repetitive stimulation of our reptilian cortex?

Loving communications as I do, there definitely are aspects of technology that tickle me. Like blogging. And when I’m beading – itself a meditative practice – I listen to inspiring interviews and podcasts. It’s illuminating to get perspectives from those with lived experience and wisdom different from my own. It’s expanding, enlightening, and feeds my curiosity.

In two interviews I’ve listened to – one featuring the fabulous Danielle LaPorte, the other referencing Jello Biafra’s statement ‘Don’t hate the media, become the media,’ the message is clear: We are the new media.

I love that. Mainstream media may be controlled by the few, and we’re extensively tracked and monitored online…but we are the users, the broadcasters. We have the power and agency to express ourselves. The mass challenge seems to be expressing ourselves with thoughtfulness, kindness, and accountability.

Perhaps more challenging: How do I bring kindness into my day-to-day interactions? It’s easy to espouse my views behind my screen, from the comfort of my own home. How do I deal with the tension that’s happening out there in the physical world? It’s often the most mundane activities – our commutes, at work, in line at the grocery store – that test us.

Circling back to the labyrinth (hehe). If I had ‘more time’, would I have stopped to contemplate it? I don’t know that I would. But hey – I noticed that about myself. I noticed that I want to feel more contemplative and in my body. I noticed that I’d like to slow down instead of feeling that general, unnecessary sense of rush.

And I noticed that I’m beginning to do that, in my own way.

In one post I alluded to stories of ancient civilizations that self-destructed because they couldn’t manage the advanced technologies they’d developed. Those tales once seemed farfetched. I don’t necessarily feel humanity is doomed to this fate, but I do think escaping it requires awareness like never before.

Destruction is not about robots or AI taking over. It’s about humans forgetting compassion.

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11 thoughts on “don’t hate the media, become the media

  1. I enjoy how you keep returning to the vision of the labyrinth! It shows up to let you know that it’s always there….
    You can walk it, or even just take a picture of it, and thinkabout walking it! 🙂 I just wrote some code and wrote as the “end thinking” code, and it made me giggle, and now… I don’t want to correct it! 🙂 I like the pace of your written language here, Aleya… like walking. and pausing. Wow – are we the media? You know? I think I wrote that in my ‘about’ section of my blog of few years ago, “What is Fiestaestrellas?”: using my own Self as its media.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said, Aleya. I love the notion that we are the media. The downside is that journalistic integrity has been swamped by some of the color-drenched, emotion-stoking outlets you’ve noted. As more of us take time to witness what we truly desire–connection, genuine expression of feelings, the willingness to learn from one another–perhaps these forums can be transformed. I don’t know. I certainly hope so, and meanwhile I savor the moments of connection here…

    Peace
    Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Michael! Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I also hope that with time these forums will be transformed into spaces of more caring, empathy, and sincere desire to understand. It is comforting to know that these spaces do exist and that we are part of it here in the WordPress community. 🙂 Aleya

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Andreas! 🙂 That last line didn’t occur to me until right before I hit ‘publish’. I love it when that happens as I often don’t know where posts are going to go…writing is such a cathartic process! Aleya

      Liked by 5 people

  3. I appreciate your heartfelt sharing and insights Aleya. Yes, we need a lot more compassion, listening, and making conscious choices to help spread messages that create a world we want. For me, that’s one with more love, peace, and cooperation.

    Liked by 5 people

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