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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i’m not passionate, just curious

Last weekend I listened to a fabulous interview with Liz Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love (or EPL, as my bloggette pals like to call it) and The Signature of All Things. The discussion was full of gems, but what stood out was Liz’s take on passion.

‘Passion’ can be such pressure! Find your passion. Go after your passion. Live your passion. In Liz’s words, passion is a very ‘rock star’ state of being. But for many of us, including me, our passion is not obvious.  We can’t pinpoint it to something specific.

i took this by accident, but i like it

i took this by accident, but i like it

When our passion is not clear, we may feel bad about ourselves. We perhaps feel inept that we can’t find it, or assume we don’t have one.  We become blocked and discouraged. We believe passion should be *big*, so we don’t train ourselves to watch for more subtle cues from the universe. Maybe we don’t think those cues exist.

Liz suggests going with curiosity instead. Now this I can get on board with! The word ‘curious’ is showing up for me a lot lately. A few weeks ago, I watched a YouTube interview featuring the wonderful Danielle LaPorte, who wrote The Fire Starter Sessions – a hugely motivating manual on how to get-off-your-ass-and-start-really-living.  (This book has inspired me on so many levels, and is partly responsible for me quitting my job!)

Danielle spoke about discovering the top five feelings we want to cultivate in our lives, and living from those states, rather than focusing solely on achieving goals or acquiring ‘stuff’.

Curiosity made my list.

There are so many things I’m curious about; I couldn’t stop wanting to know ‘why’ if I tried! Curiosity keeps me interested in, and ever-learning about, life.  This is very important to me, as I don’t ever want to assume I know it all.  I especially want to stay curious about people. And our role in the mystery of the cosmos. (Ok, that’s another post.)

Curiosity is very powerful.  It will never burn out. It stokes itself!

I’m certainly not discounting passion; it can be a very good thing (hehe). But passion can be viewed as a sweet, deepening revealing, rather than something I have to find, now.  I’m relieved to take that pressure off myself.  And curious to see what unfolds as a result. 😉