By Daniel Taylor
We have been slowly chained down in a kind of technological cave. The age in which we are living has enabled the potential for human isolation like no other time in history. And not just physical isolation. Our reality is increasingly controlled by people we have never seen or even know exist.
You can change the world by starting with the world inside you. Set a humble example for others to follow and carry the fire.
The following is an excerpt from Daniel Taylor’s book The Age of Disconnection.
Technology already has a significant influence on our lives, but the age that we are entering will have an even greater – and probably unforeseen – impact. Unless we learn how to stay connected with our fellow human beings, the influx of new technology in our day to day lives in this era will have a profoundly disconnecting effect.
It isn’t just technology that is responsible for creating this environment of disconnection. The mass schooling system that has dominated western society for decades has played a major role. Our system of schooling is good for social sorting and command and control, but the dynamic human spirit and the kaleidoscope of diverse intelligence that inhabits it is absolutely crushed under its dead weight.
The modern schooling system isn’t connected to the real world. It is the great dis-connector. Everyone knows this intuitively. That’s why there are always individuals within the structure of the system who kick sand into the gears of the machine. Easily managed, predictable “cookie cutter” people are the ideal human resource, which happens to be the way the architects of modern schooling view the majority of humanity; as human resources. Imagination and creativity have no place in this system. Technology exacerbates these traits of a well schooled society.
Mankind, at this stage in our history, has reached a point in which the many roles that our ancestors took upon themselves are now delegated to others. Our ancestors hunted for their food; We buy it prepackaged at Wal-Mart. Our ancestors built their homes; Now someone else builds them for us. In short, the raw reality of survival and the fragility of life has been lost on the majority of modern mankind. It is not something that we need to focus on every day.
These luxuries are by no means a bad thing, but to take them for granted and fall into a state of complacency is not healthy. Collectively we seem to be running away from making this recognition. The secret is that mankind thrives under adversity. We aren’t facing the challenge of survival, thrill of adventure and warfare that our ancestors did. Is this partly why 70% of Americans are on prescription drugs, mostly anti-depressants?
The truth is, we have fallen into a state of complacency, and we all tend to ignore or at the very least downplay serious threats to our way of life. In this environment, predatory humans – divorced from natural law – have placed themselves in positions of power and treat the vast majority of humanity as lab rats in a cage. It is inside this cage that our lives become disconnected. Artificial means of satisfying human instincts have been given to us. But are we truly free, truly happy?
Do you text more often than you talk? There was a time before cell phones when we had to pick up the phone and actually talk to the person we wanted to reach. Unlike texting, attention is given to inflection in the other person’s voice. It communicates emotion and intent. Listening is required for both parties. Here’s a challenge for you: Make a conscious decision to call the person you want to talk to rather than text. If it feels awkward – well, that says something, doesn’t it?
Cell phones have seriously hurt our collective conversation etiquette. We simply aren’t fully present with the person in front of us when we are distracted by our phones. Recent college graduates, who have grown up attached to their hand held devices, are paying a price for this bad habit. An article from USA Today announced “Many college grads lack interview skills.” They are taking calls and texting during important job interviews. HR executives are finding this troubling trend to be accelerating. Otherwise qualified job candidates are being rejected because of their addiction to mobile devices.
Learn more in The Age of Disconnection
Our net connected gadgets are wiring our brains for distraction. How often can you say that you are truly living in the present moment? Are you constantly checking your phone? Is your mind preoccupied merely with the anticipation of a new message? Being mindful takes practice, especially in our technological era. Make a habit of focusing your full attention on now. Notice your breath, the shape and color of the leaves on the tree, how your body is standing or sitting. Simply relax. Electronic gadgets which seem to fill up every second of our free time distract us from doing any kind of introspection. In the event that we did we may end up focusing on our own state, and eventually our wider society.
As a society we are increasingly finding ourselves in a passive observer mode. We watch what our friends are doing on our facebook feed, which, to our dismay, often makes us feel inadequate in comparison. We watch eagerly for the next viral video. We model ourselves after scripted characters on television instead of creating ourselves. What are you adding to the world? Turn the TV off for a while and re-discover the world around you. Let your thoughts (about yourself, others, and the world) be your own, not suggested by someone else. Own your consciousness.
What will you do when widespread human augmentation begins to take place? It could be here in 10-20 years. For a select few it will be here much sooner. There will undoubtedly be movements started to counter this trend when it becomes an apparent reality. What about the acceptance of life like robotic sex partners? Radical life extension? The meaning of human life and our connection to each other will be challenged in a major way. Our society will undergo a reorientation much like what happened after the industrial revolution only on a much larger scale.
You have a choice!
All of these things have one thing in common; You have a choice in how you are using technology. The societal ills stemming from technology are a natural outgrowth of individual choices being made each day. Technology (and how we use it) reveals the deeper things of the human soul. Focus on how you are living. It is easy to fall into the victim mindset that says “I am this way because of our society and things outside of my control,” but the reality is that we all have a choice. We are self-aware beings. We can choose another way. Here’s the key: When we take back our consciousness and focus on changing ourselves on a deep level, the way we use technology will naturally change as well. You can be an example to the rest of humanity of what we are capable of. You don’t have to follow the script of social engineers.
Start unplugging as much as you can today. I predict that individuals who do this will become the envy of the world some day. Their ability to connect with other people will shine brightly in a disconnected world. Relationships for these people will simply be better. Employers will seek them out for their ability to think creatively. Friends and family will ask them for direction. Our solution lies in re-claiming our very souls and reconnecting with humanity. In almost every case throughout history, civilizations fall when humanity is debased and loses touch with themselves, their neighbors and the wider world.
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (written in 390 B.C.) describes a group of human beings who have lived their whole lives chained down in a dark cave. Their entire existence consists of analyzing shadows on the wall in front of them. Puppeteers move the figures back and forth while the captives take pride in naming them as they pass by. This is their reality. One day a prisoner is released. His sensitive eyes are blinded by the bright sun. His former reality is shattered as he sees the strange puppeteers moving the shapes that he so proudly named. He eventually becomes familiar with the color, shape and sound of the upper world. He is enlightened. In Plato’s words,
“And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the cave and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?”
“Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?”
What is the moral of this story in the age of disconnection?
We have been slowly chained down in a kind of technological cave. The age in which we are living has enabled the potential for human isolation like no other time in history. And not just physical isolation. Our reality is increasingly controlled by people we have never seen or even know exist. Edward Bernays, the father of modern propaganda, summed it up like this:
“[We are governed by] an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country… We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”
The cave of our time consists of all technology that limits our consciousness; Our awareness of the present moment. The creators of the modern cave have made it quite enjoyable for us. In some ways it is much more exciting than the real world. It entices us with its dark allure. If humanity were to be completely absorbed by this matrix, each generation that is born will be acclimated to the “reality” of the cave. The memory of human existence and true connection would fade into darkness.
Is this scenario inevitable? Absolutely not! There is a distinct difference between Plato’s prisoners and us. We have a hopeful advantage over them. If we were to enter Plato’s cave we would have to consciously decide to like it. We would exist in a state of cognitive dissonance. For the most part we have an awareness of what we could be missing in the world outside the cave. We know that there is a beautiful universe to behold, freedom to be defended, ideas to explore, and creativity to express.
Our world is set to undergo dramatic changes. We face difficult choices. You don’t need to set out on a grand mission to change the globe. Focus on how you are treating others. How are you living your life?
One of the greatest challenges over the coming years will be the prospect of retaining our humanity. It is easy to harden your heart toward others, the world, and yourself. You can change the world by starting with the world inside you. Set a humble example for others to follow and carry the fire.
Learn more in The Age of Disconnection