Disconnecting From Internet Content

It’s been two days since I “disconnected” from the internet. I still use it for work but I’ve deactivated Facebook and blocked my usual meme websites using the Chrome block site add-on. I want to keep it going for at least a week and document the experience.

Memes have been my great addiction over the past few years. I would spend hours a day on Facebook, 9gag, reddit.com/r/worldnews and more recently on youtube looking at alt-right stuff. Not just a big block of several hours in the evening: more like 30-40 quick, compulsive checks during the day followed by a few hours in the evening. I’m sure many people can relate to it somehow because I see people constantly on their phones just like I was last week. Last week I wouldn’t have noticed that because I would have been on my phone.

I’ve tried to go cold-turkey in the past and it’s quite an ascetic experience, punishing even. That dopamine doesn’t replace itself. That’s why I believe it’s important to replace internet content with something else; preferably something more positive or useful. I broke out the old ps3 and started playing Skyrim again. At first, it felt painfully slow and didn’t give me any pleasure; but after I while I started getting into it and it was better than life itself.

Video games are a step up from memes I believe. This is because they’re active rather than passive, and it’s a more life-like tempo. Gratification is delayed somewhat. Importantly, I feel that since it’s “just one thing” rather than a multitude of successive things, it is conditioning one’s mind to hone in on things for a good while rather than frittering momentarily from one to another like a butterfly. I believe that internet addiction cripples the mind’s ability to think deeply, and hence having it under control is imperative for a writer.

Meditation is another thing that I would recommend to anyone undergoing this process. Although I would recommend that to everyone anyway (imagine a world where everyone meditated: utopia). Meditation takes the edge off. You don’t take any of it so seriously because you’re just a few steps back from what you do either way. I think it makes a person come off as less wanky as well; wankiness being a perennial issue with giving up anything in common usage.

My experience on the commute to work this morning was rather interesting. Ironically I felt more anxious or vulnerable than usual. This is because usually when I feel this anxiety I immediately “escape” into my phone. I have two parallel realities to inhabit: the real world around me and the virtual world in my pocket. The real world is scarily out of my control and yet mysteriously necessary to me. The virtual world does exactly what I tell it to and there’s no anxiety whatsoever. My anxiety is eased when I notice that virtually everyone on the train is on their phones, however.

There is a certain power in being the least withdrawn, the most present to a situation. Being present puts you at the centre of things, in the momentary “in crowd”. The “scarily necessary but out of control” nature of the real world is diminished when you are more in it than others, after all, it is people who are the most out of control part of it. I believe that being present like this is a leadership quality. The opposite is the need to withdraw from what’s going on while other people shoulder more responsibility for being present: someone has to be present don’t they? Yes, this is what a typical train ride is like for me: highly philosophical.

After a day or two without internet, one feels more interested in the other things of life. The feeling of a hand rail. The person walking down the street. Even just the special impression of a moment can be oddly satisfying. Dopamine by looking out a window. That seems so right.

On the other hand, there is a certain neediness to being interested in people. If there are ten people in a room and nine of them are on the phone every fifteen minutes; the one person who isn’t on their phone is “all in”. At once more in control, more interested and more invested. The others have one foot in the present moment and one foot in the virtual so they can quite happily withdraw from the present whenever they wish. They get their dopamine virtually. The person without internet doesn’t have anywhere else to go. My point is that it can often seem that you are giving more of yourself than other people and it’s a bit like being rejected.

Part of masculinity means being active rather than passive. I believe being active in an interaction necessitates being present to it. Since the one who withdraws is “passing” on various levels. On the other hand, neediness isn’t very masculine. If it’s a situation you want to be in then it’s not needy, though. It’s much easier to be “active” and therefore manful when your mind is conditioned to be continuously at home at places and with people rather than the virtual.

Energetic Awareness and Resilience of Spirit

using-the-human-emotional-vibration-chart-to-improve-the-quality-of-life-chart

Recently I moved house and found myself in an environment which I would describe as having an extremely low-vibrational energy. Painfully stuck and apathetic. Unable to see the good which just 2 days ago seemed manifestly obvious to me. At first I felt my usual mood was maintained but after spending a night there I began to feel panicked as I felt the good vibes leaving me despite my conscious intent, yet there seemed to be a reservoir of bad vibes in the house. My usual sense of high emotional state was being sapped away and I felt this shadowy, stagnant feeling of hopelessness and pointlessness seeping in. I knew exactly what was going on though. The place stinks of a special kind of depression, even when no one is there it resides figuratively in the “soul” of the place. It’s my job to let the place air out and continue to cultivate good energy through choices. Hopefully the other person will become less depressed and make better choices themselves such as by eating healthily and cleaning their room from time to time.

This stark contrast has gotten me thinking about the nature of high and low vibrational energy states. There seems to be a useful dichotomy here: two opposite attitudes about energetic states. Examining both in their extremes can help us to paint a conclusion about what a good middle-ground is.

On the one hand there’s the hyper-vigilant. They’ve learned that being in depressing environments is contagious. They’ve learned to let go of toxic relationships. They’re sensitive and can tell a mile away when someone is at a very low, depressed state. They are almost paranoid about it. After all, it’s “better” to be at a higher state and only we are responsible for our own states. How dare people bring unwelcome infectious energy into our reality, don’t they know anything? Taken to its extreme one could completely avoid people or environments even at great personal cost. They begin to seem neurotic, like someone obsessed with germs.

On the other hand there are those who are tone deaf or don’t believe in energy states at all. Probably the type that is suspicious of any kind of nuance or idea that isn’t on TV. They don’t notice energy dynamics or its manifestations and thus don’t make conscious attempts to improve their state in life. It’s luck of the draw: they might stay in a toxic relationship or never think to lift themselves out of a self-destructive pattern. Because it’s all the same to them they’re able to mix with anyone without worrying about their life getting better or worse (when to the keen observer it clearly does).

There’s positives and negatives about both. I do believe that our lives are influenced by the energetic. I believe that some lives are better than others, some states are better than others. Some people are more hopeless or depressing than others. Not wanting to improve your life just seems akin to laziness and irresponsibility to me. Given that who we closely associate with can have a profound impact on our thinking, our mood, our choices et cetera it seems insane to me to be completely liberal about who, where and with what we choose to associate.

Yet clearly we can’t have complete control over the presences that enter and leave our lives. Although something like that is ideal. I believe it’s important to cultivate a resilient spirit. We need to be able to stay grounded and maintain our sense of self whether surrounded by people with unconscious black holes in their soul or people that are loving life personified. To be able to function in the full spectrum we must expose ourselves to the full spectrum? We need to be able to mix with everyone and yet make positive, self-responsible choices to move our lives forward.

Cultivate a resilient spirit by decoupling energetic states from your sense of self. Yet make hard judgements and choices about it to make your life better in the long run. This is of day-to-day practical choices though: when it comes to your awareness don’t divide the world into good and bad, keep the non-duality of it.

I’ve had a major insight that has transformed my meditation practise. It’s about saying “yes” to whatever happens to be in your soul. You must have an attitude of “yes, and…” where you ascent to distractions but simultaneously try to keep focusing on the object of meditation.

Saying no creates like a shadowy dead zone in your soul; where you are the judger saying no and your energies feel suppressed. There is a dynamic of dual awareness. Whereas saying yes creates an atmosphere of unity: non dual awareness. “It’s all ok but keep refocusing as well.”

Thus it seems that meditation involves two seperate practices: actual meditation, and non-judgement.