It is a shame of our modern Western society that films and television have made such an impression. As a social species, we have probably always been prone to imitation and influence from observing behavior that may or may not be genuine. It’s just that now, there has to be a base assumption that behavior is probably not genuine—that is: not natural, a put on, an act, a vanity for the sake of portraying one’s self as something they may or may not be.
There is one item in particular that I am perturbed by…and maybe not perturbed as much as intrigued. It is the impression—or illusion—that life is exciting. Here, the term excitement is used in the way most teenagers use it: that something is happening, that we are part of something bigger, that we are doing something important and consequential and unique. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, reality TV, and scripted film all portray this, and usually layer on the traditional literary story arc: introduction, climax, and denouement, all in a neat package that is shared with any number of strangers and acquaintances.
Basically, most people on the Internet and certainly on TV want to portray their lives (fictional or not) as something wholly unreal, something so fab and wild that it somehow justifies their existence on the Earth. I’ve mused before that modern youth are appealed by the ‘I share, therefore I am’ philosophy…but I realize now it is rooted in a much more dark desire for meaning—meaning afforded by being exciting.
Excitantis vivere vita, vita mea. Qui blandit vita communi, ergo sum.
(‘I live an exciting life, therefore I live. I share that exciting life, therefore I am.’)
There are two options based on personal experience that I encounter in response to the above: 1) Either I am an anomaly and live my life without daily (non-orgasmic) climaxes or with very little drama to substantiate ironic/sarcastic/serious vitriol; or, 2) Everyone is full of shit.
I don’t think that I should fool myself into thinking my experience is universal. That’s for comedians and politicians. But really, getting a bagel with a few poppy seeds in the sesame seeds isn’t worth a post to all your friends/followers, and the truth probably is that that freewheeling road trip you keep posting photos of took place 3 years ago and you haven’t left your city since then.
Apart from that—because some people do enjoy enriching experiences on a regular basis—have we become so desperate for meaning that we revert again to the weird (and made up) Latin phrase above to determine whether our experience is real and fulfilling?
Or is the question evolutionary: are we at such a point beyond simple sexual selection that we equate what we portray with our ecological fitness? Is Facebook a proxy for our pheromones?
Back to the former Q: I had a good, cosmic laugh at the absurdity of my cellphone while on a healthy dose of psilocybin this weekend (~13 g of Psilocybe ‘truffles’ in an acid-tea extraction—I was going to include a recipe, but there are so many good ones out there already). As colours shifted, and everything vibrated and swelled with its primordial energy, and stable things started to swirl and transform, and phosphenes ignited myriad scenes behind closed eyes, and I slipped into the music spinning on my turntable, spinning with it and becoming a part of it, just as every molecule vibrates and lends itself to the totality we know as the empirical universe—as all of this was happening, one of many thoughts made me realize just how absurd it would be to try to capture my very personal visions. And even if I could, what the fuck would it matter to you?
Timothy Leary gave his LSD-influenced mantra in a vastly different time than ours, even if it was only ~50 years ago. When he said, “Tune in, turn on, drop out” it was meant to rattle normal society. But now it has become normal society. We tune in to false lives of TV and the internet, we turn on electronic devices that rule our attention, and we drop out of the ‘real’ world that dominated our consciousness since cells responded to their environment.
So I offer a not-so-original twist on Leary’s cliché that, for me at least, makes a lot more sense in our current context: “Tune out, turn off, drop in.” Tune out the manufactured/posed lives people try to portray, turn off our electronics (or cultivate the will power to), and drop in (I’ll leave this to your own interpretation).
Quite frankly, I am tired of posting shit on Twitter and Instagram. I hate having to boil down my experience to a box of pixels or to 140 characters. Social media is a tireless game. And I am reconsidering how much energy I want to afford to it.
It was a game I was very reluctant to play. I only gave it a go in 2012, with bright intentions of stepping into a ‘community’ as a writer. But none of it has helped my writing, however much it has helped my exposure (which in itself is questionable).
But don’t get excited. There’s no climax here. No big dramatic pronouncement of Twittercide. Because life just doesn’t work like that for me. It just keeps mushrooming—into different forms, different modes—but it continues with no denouement, no perfect finish, no finality, no