Do you ever feel like your brain just can’t possibly hold any more information? That it’s about to explode with all the sound bites and blogs and news alerts and status updates and tweets and talking heads and viral videos and “15 ways to eat an apple” or “8 ways to comb your hair”?
It’s an interesting paradox that I was invited to blog on The Huffington Post. I of course am honored and want people to read my stuff and hopefully be inspired by the content, but at the same time, I too am a victim (and perpetrator!) of the constant bombardment of information, triggering my (and yours) chemical dependency on technology stimulation, which then hooks me (and you) into the next piece of media we feel we must have now!
Maybe it’s because we just want to be filled. Connected. Be a part of something we are told matters.
So we consume. Mindlessly. It’s as if we don’t have something constantly going on in the background of our lives, the silence would suffocate us.
Philosopher Terrence McKenna — who died in 2000 before the real explosion of Internet information and inundation — once said, “We have to stop consuming our culture. We have to create culture.”
That’s tricky because we seem to be living in a time where the act of creating is being generated for the end result only. We do it to get famous or be read or have a podcast or get hits or be the top trend on Twitter or the headline news.
What happened to creating for creating’s sake? Simply for the joy of doing so.
Maybe the art of creating is partly being eroded by a culture that doesn’t leave room for failing anymore. (That word is a misnomer anyway because “failing” is a relative term. Our short-term setbacks and challenges we define as “failures” are actually — in the long-term — the genesis of new insights, learning and growth.)
Nowadays, though, we have the added stress of having to do things perfectly. We have to hit it out of the park each time and be at the top of our class and have everything figured out now. By the time our kids are 4 years old they have to already have the right colleges picked out and have an extensive resume when interviewing to get into kindergarten.
I remember when I was in kindergarten I slept on a reusable cot, ate crayons, put frogs in Miss Swanson’s purse, played Charlie’s Angels in the parking lot, got stuck in a trash can and often peed my pants.
I still came out okay.
The pressures of the future weren’t even a part of my consciousness at that age. I was allowed — and encouraged — to just be.
Remember when we did that? Allowed ourselves to be? To while away the hours not by consuming, but by doing nothing. Being. It stimulated our imagination. Our curiosity. Our inner guide telling us, “Try this.” “Do that.” “Don’t be scared.” “It will be fun.”
That’s the real birth of creativity. Right there. In listening to that inner calling to be ourselves in uniquely original ways for the pure joy of expressing.
Not for winning a popularity contest.
Ah yes, that inner guide. We all have one. But sometimes that voice within, the inner GPS system that is there for all of us, guiding us and showing us how to create our lives (if we were but quiet enough to hear it) gets shut out because of the constant bombardment of stimuli on our phones, computers and everywhere we look.
That’s not to say there aren’t wonderful things to learn from technology and reading posts by some really insightful people. Maybe the goal is to find a way to become aware of when we consume stuff not to really learn or be inspired but to actually disconnect. To not feel. To avoid and shut down.
The constant stream of information used to distract us has an anesthetizing affect, and before we know it, we’ve killed three hours watching a cat video (!) rather than writing our own cat poem or taking a dance class or simply looking into the eyes of a stranger.
Perhaps instead of consuming so much information by other people, we limit how much we absorb so that we are forced to make our own decisions, rather than deferring our intelligence.
Maybe instead of comparing and despairing over someone’s (perceived) glamorous life by the exotic photos they post of themselves on Facebook having the time of their lives, we might actually turn the computer off and take our own plunge.
Instead of getting miffed reading about someone else’s success, we attempt something ourselves. And make mistakes. And have fun. And “fail.” And create again. And enjoy the process. And realize we know a lot more than we thought we did about how to survive the media zombie apocalypse.
For more by Anthony Meindl, click here.
For more GPS for the Soul, click here.