If you look up the word ‘tumult’ in the dictionary it paints an image of an angry crowd of people all milling about close to each other. Perhaps the day is hot, and everyone’s talking over each other, shouting, disoriented and confused. That’s a tiny snapshot of the world at large. An increasing number of people now have access to computing platforms (phones, tablets, and actual computers) that give them the capacity and opportunity to share their views. Right and wrong are moral judgments based on subjectivity, the same as good and evil. The art of discernment is requisite in this unfolding era of ‘Babble’. I’m adding to the noise.
Who are we listening to and why? We all want and need the better deal, the most affordable price with the highest quality product. Our right-hand doesn’t recognize that we’re eating our left hand. In this self-cannibalization, we cry out in pain and confusion, not knowing why we do it really. Have you been told that you cry in your sleep, or awoken to find yourself this way? Maybe upon scant self-reflection, you chalk it up to your workplace or something you watched before bed that disturbed you a little. I bet you it’s deeper than that.
Imagine a dense and dirty fog settling over the lands like a great shadow. The malaise can last you the rest of your life if you’re not careful–the shadow and the light dance side by side, but never leave each other. If you find that it’s much easier to look at the fog than at the light, you’re not alone. But recognize this: it’s a decision. And that decision isn’t necessarily your own to make.
All the items you prop yourself up with each day–your computer, your phone, your friends, your TV, your books, your media in all its forms, also prop up the people you surround yourself with. Whether that’s at work or at home. Many of us in the developed world are surrounded by influential voices. Popular TV shows, Facebook, Twitter, and even Youtube–these media conglomerates are informing you and everyone else you know. If you’re lucky, you are influencing these media in your own way, hopefully with an eye for a better change.
Because we are by nature adaptable creatures, and because we have so much surrounding us on all sides, we are adapting to the influences of everyone else’s thoughts. If left alone for a while you might notice that your thoughts run in new cycles every three months or so. As new information becomes available, that information gets processed over and over again on cycle in your mind.
You’re also influencing yourself by what you seek out. If you’re looking for specific information, you can find it. And it is changing who you are when you do discover it. Doctors inform other doctors, as well as patients via the web–same with health coaches, scientific studies, and all the rest. All of this leads to a necessary fragmentation of mental resources and personal identity issues. The breaking down and building up of character is a lifelong process involving you and the millions of people you are now connected to.
I submit then, that when we say we want to ‘find ourselves’ we might cast a loving glance backward to a different time. A time when people didn’t have access to the same level of information or groups of people’s influences. A time when people had only their families and their towns or small groups of people to be influenced by. Simpler times, maybe, but mankind has never really been all that simple. Because of adaptability, we’ve been evolving to this very point. We’re seeing the world through a constantly shifting lens.
There are so many questions this raises, of course. Write down all your questions and submit them to yourself for deep examination and self-reflection. See if you can answer just one or two of the questions that arise. It’s an exercise in personality and character to do so.