Sunday, January 31, 2010

Magical Mystery Cure

When I published my “New Direction” post on Friday, I thought it would be a good long while until I posted again. Well, what do I know? Here we are, two days later, and I’m already two posts behind! So let’s get cracking here.

Anybody who has been following my blog might remember statements like “Giving it up” and “Dropping back out.” Intriguing concepts to be sure, but what do they refer to? Sometimes I find myself knowing things without knowing why. I see through the glass darkly at first. Only later do the details emerge. This is one of those times when I’m finally starting to understand what those statements I made weeks ago really meant.

Like many Americans, I have had it with this country. The situation has become so extreme that I am reluctant to articulate all the things that have gone wrong, even though I haven’t been shy about speaking out in the recent past. I have concluded that speaking or writing about negative situations contaminates my own vibrational field with negativity. (This is perhaps what is warned about by the Biblical injunction, “Resist not evil.”) This doesn’t mean that I’m choosing denial. I’m fully aware of what’s going on out there. It’s just that constant complaining, if not followed by action, is worse than useless.

I have decided to take action for myself. I have decided to TUNE OUT, and in fact already have. I’ve already noticed benefits in my own life. For years I haven’t watched TV, listened to the radio, or listened to very much canned music, so I’ve already been semi-tuned-out. But I’ve been an Internet junkie since I got my first computer in 1996, spending several hours a day logging onto various websites, under the excuse of “keeping myself informed.” But like I said, I’m totally fed up with just about everything the cultural mainstream has to offer these days, so my old habits are losing their allure. I think the last straw was when I realized that I didn’t need to know what Digby thought of Obama’s State of the Union Speech. Something fundamental shifted for me. I realized that I didn’t need to participate as a media consumer anymore, and I went cold turkey from the Internet except for checking the weather and snowpack. I haven’t missed being “informed” at all; in fact I find it liberating. Next I’ll be canceling Netflix.

But doesn’t this mean I’m giving up? Shouldn’t a citizen keep himself informed about what’s happening? In my case, at least, not at all. I already understand the trajectory of this country very well, and I doubt that it will be changing anytime soon. Whenever I choose to re-engage, I can be quickly brought up to speed. (And if I do re-engage, maybe I will have learned something useful in the meantime.) TUNING OUT means I’ve eliminated a huge distraction, a huge energy drain, from my life. I now have extra hours every day to engage with my wife, play music, or sit in my rocking chair thinking about nothing at all... which greatly enhances my spirituality and creativity. The benefits are spectacular so far. It’s a magical mystery cure for the overstimulated brain/mind system.

We all know that America is ripe for something. Like a supersaturated solution, just one seed crystal can cause a massive crystallization event. I think a critical mass of Americans are becoming desperate to try something different. People feel frustrated and helpless. Our present situation is becoming increasingly unsatisfactory. How can we become free once again? It’s hard to become free from the economic system and our joke of a political system, but it’s relatively easy to escape the tendrils of the constant media barrage we’re exposed to. (As McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message,” which I take to mean that a message of control is inherent within the electronic media themselves, and by our position as passive media consumers.) Tuning out frees us from this control, frees our time, energy, minds and spirits, and is totally risk-free. (We can always tune back in if tuning out proves to be unsatisfactory.)

Just Google “media fast” for any number of fine articles about this subject. Many people have tried it, have experienced positive benefits, and are recommending it to others. I think we’ve reached a point in this country where people are finally willing to actively disengage from the mainstream Matrix. This could catch on. I’m doing my little bit here to stoke the flame of freedom. There will be others.

Tuning out creates unprecedented time and energy for live conversation, live music, live culture, live creativity (is there any other kind?). We have unprecedented opportunities to create creative excitement for ourselves. And creative excitement can create what I call “the extra buzz,” which has more implications than is commonly supposed. It’s about time for this blog to become supernatural again. (That didn’t take long, did it?)


Blogger Jacques Conejo said...

Well, there it is - the magical mystery comment box! This is good... I've had a very long day and only just now read your post... Being a guy who's on the other end of the information consumption spectrum, I'm fascinated by what you're saying.

But now must rest... I'll have more later... Gotta' get some sleep so I can get up early and listen to Democracy Now...

I'm delighted that you're writing and allowing room for comments again...



10:48 PM  
Blogger Jacques Conejo said...


I did google "media fast" as you suggested...

Good counsel... I'm not sure of all the forces that drive me to (as you know) consume as much info as I can stand... I do know some of the forces... but not sure of all of em'.

I admire your posture on this... it seems that there's much to be gained by letting it all go and just being in the present... I think I struggle with the notion (likely illusion) that if I'm aware of what's going on and how all the ripple effects are interacting, then I can somehow prepare more effectively for coming changes.. Like most things, it's probably partly true and partly bullshit... Of course, ultimately it's a personal choice... I can certainly see the wisdom in the choice you've made...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Good Stuff...


12:09 AM  
Blogger Gordon Solberg said...

Hey Jacques,

Hey Jacques,

Been awhile! Serves me right for turning the comments off, eh?

The media fast is an experiment on my part. I was spending way too much time reading other peoples' commentary. (I was "keeping my finger on the pulse" of alternative thought.) I'm curious to see what will happen to me mentally and spiritually if I cold turkey off of this. I'll be posting something about this after a month.

I'm also curious why we (including me) failed so abjectly to create an alternative culture. We are nothing more than a slightly different nuance of consumerism within the Wasteland culture because -- obviously -- our consciousness (collective and individual) has been thoroughly colonized and co-opted by the Wasteland. Does a media fast make any difference in this regard? I'll let you know.

One observation: my media compulsion habit was fueled by lack of community. Ideally there would be a mix of people in my immediate neighborhood -- some tedious, some fascinating -- who share some overlap with my life. In other words, LIVE ACTION. But the Wasteland has co-opted almost everybody's life energy. So I've always found a lack of outside mental stimulation in my neighborhood, and I've been using the unlimited mental stimulation of the Internet as a "community substitute." I'm curious to see what will happen without my Media Jones. The last tried I tried a media fast, in Aug. 08, my intellect got awfully unhappy and I found myself antsy and depressed. So... we shall see. Onward into the unknown!

6:54 AM  
Blogger Jacques Conejo said...

That's an insightful observation about media as a substitute for community... Of course it makes perfect sense... It happens in the home/family setting - People who turn off their TV's spend more time with their kids... Of course it extends beyond the walls of the home. People gathered around the water coolers of America, talk about what they watched on TV last night, furthering and deepening the very "safe" relationship with the idiot box... Actual interaction and participation with other people calls for us to grow and change and occasionally engage some self-examination... Media doesn't demand that of us... It's a one way feed. The illusion of engagement that's perpetrated by shows like American Idol, where the audience votes for the contestants, owes a great measure of it's success to the device of creating the illusion of community in a completely insulated format.

Oh well... That's how it is for humans, at pinnacle of evolution... Hopefully it'll change slowly enough for people to adapt to the necessary return to the challenges of community, and fast enough that we're not all going to be caught without the skills we need...

Good observations Mr. Gordon... Thanks...



8:59 AM  

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