2015: Living Primal In The 21st Century

This is my last post for 2014. I made some bold decisions in the past year regarding my writing, and I expect to see the benefits in 2015. Not because I can kick back and cherish the fruits of my labor; it’s because I have laid the foundation to really begin doing the hard work (which I love) for many years to come.

And so, with this entry I remind my readers: often, I write to discover an understanding of what I am feeling, of what is — or is not — establishing balance in my life. This post is no different; it is not a judgment on you (or you, or even you). Rather, it is a general conclusion I have made about my own use of social media, of how I, as a highly introverted writer, need to get on in this world to refine my focus and establish a more stable balance of existence. Simply put, I recognize that each of us has a unique path. If my epiphanies work for your journey, then I am grateful. If, on the other hand, we have little or nothing in common, and my words affirm your own place in the world (be it far different than my own), then I am equally grateful.

All good? Wonderful. Let’s move along, then.

Ulysses and the Sirens

Artist: Marie-Francois Firmin-Girard: “Ulysses and the Sirens” (1868)

We have sacrificed a great deal of ourselves in the early years of this 21st century, and as I get older, I am becoming more aware of the pull, the siren-type lull as famed in Homer’s The Odyssey, to resign to passivity and mediocrity.

Bluntly put, that doesn’t lead us to anywhere good.

Nineteenth Century British author Walter Copland Perry called the Sirens in our mythology the muses of the underworld. He wrote, “Their song, though irresistibly sweet, was no less sad than sweet, and lapped both body and soul in a fatal lethargy, the forerunner of death and corruption.”

For much of 2014, I grappled with the tease of social media, the reasoning behind my dangerous attraction to it, and the manipulation of data by the media and money-hungry conglomerates that have thrown the net far and wide to catch as many consumers as possible. All of this has sucked me in, but out of disgust. It’s like that inevitable accident that you can’t stop watching. You flinch, you grimace, you might even bring your arms up to protect your face.

But you still leave a crack of light open for your eyes to capture it all. That’s where I have been with social media and the battle to live life simply.

And– when I step back, I mean really far back, the bigger picture is even more horrifying.

I am reminded of the scene in the movie Contact, directed by Robert Zemeckis in 1997 and starring Jodie Foster, when the masses gather to celebrate the “message of Vega.” They were drawn to experience something that they had never seen before. Immediately, they were lulled in to so much more. This short clip from the movie, to me, captures what Social Media is doing to me and so many of us in the first handful of years of the 21st Century.

This is what I see, at least. We are jumping on a bandwagon that’s been rigged from the start to placate us, to make us doubt ourselves as we pretend to build ourselves up. We buy and sell things, feelings, emotions, lies, deceit, hope, promises, love, and even hate. We persuade, distract, overwhelm, satiate, and lull — yes, lull like the Sirens — each other into false senses of security, comfort, and rescue from chaos. It is the machine of all machines, and we are all cogs in its greater mission. It is the largest force of artificial intelligence, and we are all contributing to the hum of its finely tuned operation.

I want out.

Friends and writers alike tell me it is social suicide to delete social media accounts and make the move to the woods. They tell me that I will never get my writing to “take off” and build on the momentum that I have created over the years. Social media is the number one way to stay in touch, informed, and intrigued. To sever that cord is like walking out of the Superdome in life’s greatest ongoing Super Bowl event that has ever occurred.

I know that, to a large extent, they are right about my career. But more important than any writing dreams I might have, there’s this: I don’t want to lose touch with everyone I care about.

So what to do?

I have to return to one of my old stand-by lines of great wisdom. To quote Emerson (for, perhaps, the 12th time on this blog):

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

That’s it. Right there. I want out, but I want to stay in, too. I just don’t want all the ugly stuff that comes with staying “in.”

Is it any different, though, than watching television? We are given the opportunity to tune in to nearly 1,000 channels at any given moment. We choose the frequency, my friends. We make the choice.

What I have learned in 2014 is that those choices require a lot of hard work, focus, dedication, and commitment. Getting older doesn’t make any of those things easier; in some ways, we have to try even harder to avoid the sirens’ alluring calls. They tempt us to resign to the complacency that social media offers us.

Tempting, yes. All the time. That’s why 2015 is about returning to the Hunter-Gatherer within me.

It’s not going to be easy to focus my energies into the things that matter the most to me. I have to employ a will to seek out my greatest needs and achieve them; I need to do away with everything “processed and refined” in my life and retain the primal goods and meaningful relationships that exist. I need to let them flourish, become the most powerful things in my life, and live genuinely with and among them.

There it is. My focus for 2015: Living Primal in the 21st Century.

I leave you (and 2014) with a great clip from a movie called Facing The Giants (2006). It captures the essence of how I need to prepare for the long haul in 2015. Maybe you feel the same. Maybe you need to realize that you can do some pretty once-believed impossible things. For me, I need to remember that it’s a long year, and I can’t lose sight of my focus and my goals, no matter how heavy or burdensome the pursuit might seem.

Just keep going, never give up, never quit, and never stop believing in the greatness within you.

 Happy New Year to all of you, near and far. May these be the greatest of days, regardless of the challenges we will most certainly face along the way.

17 thoughts on “2015: Living Primal In The 21st Century

  1. Now I’ve had a little sleep, time to spend some brain power on this cool post.
    Social media is neither negative or positive in and of itself, except in how we use it, or how we let it control us.
    It offers so many positive possibilities for connection and community, to expand our boundaries and influence but it should not be at the expense of relationship. This is where self-control and discipline come in to play.
    For me, social media can assist to live out the adage, ‘love thy neighbour:’ to be present for someone, to cheer them on from the sidelines, to offer a place in the world where there can be acceptance.
    Have a blessed 2015.
    Adam B @revhappiness

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear ya. I live on the periphery of social media and continually monitor myself. It can be such a time-suck, being online, and I will ask myself sometimes after a couple hours have passed: what do I have to show for that? There is that fear, as suggested by your friends, of “missing out.” But that can be tested by trial periods out (i.e., do horrible things happen?). I quit reading & participating in a particular online forum (one that was often crazy-making), and I can say now I’ve been the better for it. Yes, I’ve missed hearing a few things, or heard the later – but nothing that was going to alter the course of my life. I have to remind myself of that and keep applying it.

    Thanks for the post and giving me a chance to articulate this. –Colette


    • And thank you for the lovely addition to this conversation. I think that, with me, I have to understand that there is an ebb and flow to all of this. When I am at high or low tide, I have to remind myself to not think in such extremes and realize that I just need to do something to swing the tide back toward the other direction. That’s where I am right now — learning how to make all of this work without too many crashing waves or, worse, droughts.

      I appreciate your words. Thanks for taking the time to share. ~rus

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I struggle with social media because I succumb very easily to the outrage placation machine. But my friends and family are scattered across the globe, and I am deeply fortunate to have many close people in my life, and it’s social media that helps me keep them that close.

    I’m not anywhere near the point of using social media for self-promotion, though perhaps that needs to change soon, but my slippery slope is social justice and all its attendant news. Just one really negative report can ruin my whole day and exhaust me before the day’s even begun. I’ve been learning how to not let that hook catch and pull me, how to grab the line and free myself from the wire, but it takes work. Still, for now, I think it’s a worthy price to pay for being able to chat with friends in NYC and family in the SE US, in Europe, and in towns in Australia far from where I live.

    But I do worry that I’m forgetting how to be in nothing more than my own company.

    Liked by 1 person

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