Modern Life, Ancient Software
Humans adapt unbelievably quickly to different ways of life, climate, diet, etc. How else would we have spread across the whole globe and sustain life on every continent?
But modern life has evolved even quicker than us and has taken on a life of its own. Technology keeps building on itself. Would anyone have predicted the rise of the internet, personal data, and artificial intelligence in the 1950’s?
The landscape of the entire world has changed several times since the 1950’s- nations have risen and fallen, presidents and leaders have come and gone, and the economy has completely shifted.
But fundamentally, humans haven’t changed at all since the 1950’s.
The good ol’ days
I’m no anthropologist, but I bet our minds and genetics have probably changed very little in the past ten thousand years.
Whether vegans want to admit it or not, our species evolved as hunter/ gatherers and our minds evolved to live in a hunter/ gatherer communities.
As a species we haven’t adapted to deal with social media, delicious but unhealthy fast food, bumper to bumper traffic, a 9-5 desk job, and all the other staples of modern life.
No wonder there’s an epidemic of mental illness going on.
The most ridiculous thing to me is that growing up I never heard any adults talk about this reality. Not my teachers in schools, not my parents, not my coaches: no-one seemed to mention that modern life is inherently stressful and difficult to navigate as a human.
Maybe because I turned 25 six months ago and my brain is basically developed now, but lately I’ve become aware of the discrepancies between modern life and human nature.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the conveniences of modern life. After all, I make my full-time income off the internet and am obsessed with online business.
I still want to fully live and thrive in the modern world. But, I want to develop a life for myself that utilizes the best of both worlds, the ancient and the modern.
Suffering is Relative
In the book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl recounts his experiences being in Auschwitz Concentration Camp during World War II. Somehow he survived, and shares his experiences how he learned to forgive the Nazi’s.
Here’s a quote from the book that stood out to me:
“…Suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the “size” of human suffering is absolutely relative.”
Maybe because I practice meditation and like the Buddha’s philosophy on suffering (that we all experience suffering) but it was eye-opening to see a concentration camp survivor empathizing with all types of suffering.
Here’s a man who experienced the worst that humanity has to offer, but still acknowledges that suffering is relative, no matter how small, and is mostly based on our attitude towards it.
The saying, “I have nothing to be depressed about! My life is good!” is common in modern American life.
I think a lot of us fail to see that modern life, regardless of how much we’ve advanced technologically and ethically as a species, is still full of hardships and stress.
My longing to be in a romantic relationship is suffering. The shame I carry around from the past is suffering, the pang of hunger as I write this is suffering.
Overcoming the Social Media Mindset
My internal dialogue is by far my own worst critic. I grew up in a strict household with very high expectations and standards, so my ego developed these never-ending judgements as a protective mechanism.
I always felt like a loser or wimp when socializing, so it was more than easy enough to blame these feelings on the other person.
I wouldn’t blame the other person outwardly, but I was constantly carrying around the smoldering coals of resentment towards people for ‘making’ me feel this way. A sideways glance from an attractive girl was enough to send me into a rumination spiral for hours about if she was judging me harshly or not.
I think the main goal of self-development is authenticity (and self-compassion). My age group was one of the first to grow up with social media. All throughout high school it was a competition to see who could get the most likes on Facebook.
Social media is a tool, and I do want to get better at it to make money through it.
But the social media mindset has insidiously infiltrated our collective consciousness. We pretend everything is ok and try to appear outwardly happy because god-forbid anyone thinks we’re weird, or uncool, or creepy.
Maybe I’m just hypersensitive and these fake appearances eat at me more than most, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think most of us are sick of it.
I still lie to myself and other people all the time. I try to be funny when I’m feeling depressed, I try to act confident when I’m anxious, I try to reassure myself that I’m the man when I feel like a loser.
I’m not trying to say we should vocalize all these things to the people around us- that’s not authenticity, it’s word vomit.
What I’m after is a quiet contentment with myself. If I’m feeling depressed I don’t want to try and project being funny and optimistic, I can just hang out and be quiet if that’s what I feel like doing. If I’m feeling anxious I don’t need to go and start posturing towards others, I can just feel the emotion and comeback to my present situation.
That’s the goal. Now let’s see if I can keep this in mind the rest of the day..