I stumbled upon a Hare Krishna drum circle today in a small park in West LA. My first, natural impulse was to capture and document the moment on Instagram. Alas- no smartphone in tow- I was forced to just sit and listen in the moment to the beat of the drums.
Naturally, this prompted another round of rumination about the role of smartphones and technology in our lives. While documenting our lives is certainly useful and important (cameras have been around forever), nowadays the act of capturing a moment actually supersedes the moment itself. I think it’s because we’ve gotten to a point where we’re almost dependent on other people validating the time we’re having. Look at this food I’m eating! ‘Like’ the restaurant that I checked in to!
Why? I think it’s because when this validation is instant and ample (20 likes!), we ultimately get to constantly remind ourselves that we matter in some way. And that’s the deep-rooted need/desire for connection that a lot of new social networks provide.
This is what DFW was getting at at length in Infinite Jest- the endemic problem of modern society is an inherent, deep-seated loneliness— the fundamental human need for connection and validation amplified by the the sea of stimulation and content out there that makes it even harder to feel like we belong.
Forget so-called peer pressure. It’s more like peer-hunger. No? We enter a spiritual puberty where we snap to the fact that the great transcendent horror is loneliness, excluded encagement in the self. Once we’ve hit this age, we will now give or take anything, wear any mask, to fit, be part-of, not be Alone, we young.
Thoughts on a sunny Saturday afternoon.