My experience in scrolling through social media today prompted me to put down my phone and craft this post. As I perused the latest, “suggested” videos, I became aware of a pull. A digital, gravitational force that was interfering with my conscious awareness and ability to choose. I was getting lost and directed by the myriad of images and promises and “suggestions” that were bombarding the senses. I was no longer in charge. My finger and phone had come to an agreement, of which I was no longer privy. I was on a ride to an unknown destination of an algorithm’s choosing, until I recognized it, and closed the app.
A beauty and privilege of being human is having the ability to choose our actions purposefully. Yes, we like other species, have innate reflexes and responses that have helped us to survive – i.e. the fight or flight response in the face of danger. It is, however, the gifts of reflection and free will that allow us to craft the trajectory of our experience like no other form of life. That is, if we are paying attention.
I once had a dream in which a young girl sat alone, isolated from all other guests at party. I could sense that her sadness was connected to feeling different from everyone else. I crouched down to meet her gaze, and with a strong sense of conviction, I said, “You are the master and creator of your life.” Upon awakening, I knew that little girl was me, and that I was reminding myself of this truth.
We have the ability to be aware of our thoughts and emotions, change our perspectives, and through our actions, like an artist, paint the picture of our life experience. But what if we are no longer aware? What happens when we lose command of the words and images that represent our true thoughts and desires? What happens when we relinquish our brush and even the canvas to other hands?
It is an unprecedented time. We are at an age when programs, including emerging artificial intelligence technologies, are poised to usurp our ability to choose. As technologies become more sophisticated, it will become increasingly difficult to know what is real, both externally, but most importantly, within. We must be vigilant to stay connected to our own truth.
There is no going back. We are in the midst of a digital evolution, and undoubtedly there are benefits to be garnered. However, if we do not strengthen our mindful awareness muscle – our ability to pay close attention to what we’re feeling, truly thinking and doing – we will get lost. We will forget who we are, what we want, and that we have the power to direct our destiny. Technology, like the mind, is ideally a tool to be utilized in service of our conscious choice. It is up to us to stay present and aware, so that we use technology, instead of it using us.
Some tips to stay present and in charge:
1. Make it a practice to spend time alone. Get to know yourself.
2. Connect with nature. It reminds and connects you to the natural rhythms of life.
3. Get curious about your thoughts. Consider why you are choosing the actions you are taking.
4. Notice connections between your emotions and your actions. When are you likely to lose sight of your choices?
5. Simply ask, am I in charge here? Am I spending my precious energy in a way that connects, heals, enlightens and consciously creates?
Got any book recommendations?