Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tethered to Technology - Have We Reached the Point of No Return?

The following article was originally posted on Conscious Life News by Alexis Brooks in 2013, but necessitates a "re-post" as we experience our technological reality escalate in dominating our lives - perhaps with dangerous consequences!

True Story

One blustery winter morning while Michael was on his way to work, he received an urgent text: “It’s Jim. Just wanted 2 tell u that my father passed away.  His memorial service will b this Sun.” –end text.

Michael was extremely shocked and saddened; clearly caught off guard with this sobering message.  His friend Jim’s father hadn’t been ill, so this 97 character communication struck Michael as out of the blue.

Michael proceeds to his office where he immediately posts the news he just received to his Facebook page, alerting all his (and Jim’s) Facebook “friends.”  Not surprising the post almost immediately went viral within Michael and Jim’s social networking circle.

Several hours later Michael receives a call.  It’s his friend Jim.  Only it isn’t the same Jim who texted him only a short while ago with the news of his father’s passing.  This Jim (we’ll call him Jim B), another one of Michael’s friends, clearly angry, asks why Michael would post such a thing on his Facebook?  “My parents have been getting calls all morning - People calling with condolences over the death of my father.  I just spoke to both of my parents and they’re fine!

Absolutely confounded, Michael rechecks his text history only to discover that the Jim who sent the message about his father was Jim his neighbor, not Jim B, his longtime friend from college.

Needless to say, this little innocent act of concern and the technology that made it so convenient for Michael to alert Jim’s circle prompted a reverberation; the consequences of which could have led to a real tragedy for Jim B’s father and mother.  Both parents, an elderly couple, were said to be quite visibly shaken – acting as if some ominous foretelling of Jim’s father’s fate had descended upon them.  Fortunately once the parents were able to clear their heads and realize that this was just an unfortunate miscommunication, everything returned to normal.

The “new normal”

This dramatic anecdote poignantly illustrates a growing trend in our use of technology and the temptation to replace face to face or even voice to voice communication rather than to augment it.
Technology, with all its bells and whistles and promises for immediate gratification, simplicity and even friend making has increasingly usurped the authentic personal relationships that once served as the bedrock of community and union.  This appears to be our new normal.

Tools of neutrality

When you look at the use of technology, you might consider that it is a tool like anything else we engage with on the physical plane.  All tools carry an inherent neutral quality; a quality of energy.  It is how the individual enlists the tool which will determine the effect it will have on a given outcome.  Water has the ability to wash you, quench your thirst or drown you.  Fire can cook your food, warm your home or burn you.  It’s all in how the tools are utilized.  Therefore, it would serve us (and others) well to use all tools, including technology with a measure of discernment and responsibility.

In Barbara Marciniak’s classic book, Bringers of the Dawn, in which she conveys channeled messages from a civilization of enlightened beings called the Pleiadians, the issue of technology is addressed. Although they remind us that there is nothing wrong with technology per se, there has been a concerted effort to introduce technology to the masses as a means of containment. They describe modern technology as a form of “frequency control.”  Within this context, they state, “Think of frequency as individual broadcasting and receiving through which you dial into the station of your choice.  It is the broadcasting of carrier waves of intelligence.  The range of frequency is unlimited, and the range of intelligent matter transmitted is unlimited.”  They go on to say, “Frequency control limits the number of stations you can tune into.”  They assert that our modern technologies have certainly placed a finite number of channels on our broadcasting dial, although giving us the impression that we have more choices than ever! 

In a sobering allegory from a book by Zbigniew Brzezinski called Between Two Ages – America’s Role in the Technetronic Era (published in 1970) he states, “In the technetronic society the trend seems to be toward aggregating the individual support of millions of unorganized citizens, who are easily within the reach of magnetic and attractive personalities, and effectively exploiting the latest communication techniques to manipulate emotions and control reason.”

Granted this is an alarming and seemingly prophetic enunciation and could easily lead one to feel that the modus operandi of such a sketch was long planned.  Still, we know that the advent of technology and its ability (or our ability) to utilize it as a productive tool for good cannot be stated enough.  As a writer and researcher, I have been incredibly grateful for the technologies that have allowed me to find information, connect with wonderful people all over this planet and share.  The proliferation of social media has served as a tool for good and at times has even served as an instrument in saving lives - this cannot be ignored or disregarded.  But these results come from the conscious actions that each individual takes of their own volition and not from the dictates of a system that would prefer we inhibit our humanity rather than expand it.

As much as I acknowledge an appreciation for the technologies that have afforded so many with more opportunities than we could have imagined even 10 short years ago, I’ve had to remind myself that the tool of technology is just that, and one that I should periodically resolve to live without.  In fact I have made a conscious choice to go for periods of time without the need to read email, use my cell phone for talking or texting but rather read a book, paint, garden or just be with myself.  It is interesting that in this age of technological temptation; admittedly the mere fact that I’ve had to remind myself to “unplug” speaks volumes to the intractable lure of technology into our habitual routines.  Few of us these days are fully immune.

Is technology breeding narcissists?

A disturbing statistic emerged recently linking certain narcissistic tendencies with behavioral patterns on social media, particularly among young people. An article entitled Facebook’s ‘dark side’ – study finds link to socially aggressive narcissism, highlighted the fact that certain tendencies inherent in narcissistic personality types seemed to be further exacerbated or even initiated by constant use of social media sites like Facebook. 

The article quotes Carol Craig, a social scientist and chief executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being.  She said young people in Britain were becoming increasingly narcissistic and Facebook provided a platform for the disorder.
Craig states,"Facebook provides a platform for people to self-promote by changing profile pictures and showing how many hundreds of friends you have. I know of some who have more than 1,000."
Dr. Viv Vignoles, senior lecturer in social psychology at Sussex University, said there was "clear evidence" from studies in America that college students were becoming increasingly narcissistic.

Also noted from the article:

Researchers at Western Illinois University studied the Facebook habits of 294 students, aged between 18 and 65, and measured two "socially disruptive" elements of narcissism – grandiose exhibitionism (GE) and entitlement/exploitativeness (EE).
GE includes ''self-absorption, vanity, superiority, and exhibitionistic tendencies" and people who score high on this aspect of narcissism need to be constantly at the centre of attention. They often say shocking things and inappropriately self-disclose because they cannot stand to be ignored or waste a chance of self-promotion.
The EE aspect includes "a sense of deserving respect and a willingness to manipulate and take advantage of others".
The research revealed that the higher someone scored on aspects of GE, the greater the number of friends they had on Facebook, with some amassing more than 800.
Those scoring highly on EE and GE were also more likely to accept friend requests from strangers and seek social support, but less likely to provide it, according to the research. -Source: The Guardian (UK), March 17, 2012

Whether you are a proponent or opponent of the incessant use of social media as an integral part of daily life, these statistics should give one pause for thought.

Interestingly, it was Michael, mentioned in the open of this piece who first admitted to me that he just couldn’t live without Facebook!  “I’m on this thing all the time – I’m addicted,” he enthusiastically told me.  His newly discovered medium of choice I could see, was swiftly taking center stage in his life, although at the time he had only recently become familiar with the social network.  His statement concerned me so much, I had to wonder that if his new medium were suddenly taken away, would he then go through irrevocable social withdrawal.  He ended our conversation by saying, “Facebook is the only way I can really connect with my friends these days.” 

Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, Sherry Turkle wrote a lucid volume entitled Alone Together – Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other.  In it she says, “These days, insecure in our relationships and anxious about intimacy, we look to technology for ways to be in relationships and protect ourselves from them at the same time.  This can happen when one is finding one’s way through a blizzard of text messages; it can happen when interacting with a robot.  I feel witness…to a turning point in our expectations of technology and ourselves.  We bend to the inanimate with new solicitude.  We fear the risks and disappointments of relationships with our fellow humans.  We expect more from technology and less from each other.”

Finding our Inner Technology

Many ancient cultures have alluded to the process of “inner technology” as a true means for accessing information.  In literature stemming from volumes of mystery school teachings, accessing knowledge from a grand field of information, often referred to as the Akashic field was at one point within man’s reach.  So many often think of pre-modern man as a primitive life form and yet, scores of our ancient texts have shown quite the opposite.

In Gregg Braden’s 1993 book Awakening to Zero Point – The Collective Initiation he says that the first path, or the path of modern man was to create external technology as a way of remembering ourselves outside of ourselves.  He then states, “The Second Path is the path of internal technology.  Remembered rather than engineered, internal technology originates from within, as our expression of life.  This path remembers us as the sacred union between the atomic expression of “Mother Earth” and the electrical and magnetic expression of ‘Father Heaven.’  Ancient Essene sciences emphasize this idea as the basis of their earliest teachings.” 

We’ve heard so many references of the inner technology that the Atlantean civilization possessed and yet ironically it is also said that it was the access and exploitation of this inner technology that led to the annihilation of this technologically “astute” culture.

Here again we come to the act of responsibility and discernment as stated earlier in this essay.  Whether we choose to utilize exterior or interior technology, a sense of moral integrity should represent a vital quotient.

Framing a new meaning for “ISP”

The field of metaphysics is replete with viable data around the reality of ESP or extra sensory perception.  ESP is the ability to garner information beyond or outside of the typical five sensory framework.  Interestingly, when we think of what ESP denotes – an inner sense of perception, perhaps a re-wording may be in order.   ISP (inner sensory perception) is the true provider of knowledge as opposed to the ISP or Internet Service Provider that we have relied so heavily upon.

ISP is the innate faculty that we all possess.  Conceivably, once an exponential acknowledgement of this inner knowing becomes more apparent, we will become un-tethered to the technology that has become so near and dear to us, and return to a literal wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) or loyalty to self, and that inner sense perception that is so much of who we are.  It is then that we will no longer require an external connection of any kind.

I discuss more about the state of technology, human behavior and how we can move toward a paradigm of true ISP - Inner Sensory Perception, in hour one of my recent interview on The Hundredth Monkey Radio program.

The re-publishing of this article originally posted on Conscious Life News in April of 2013 was inspired by a recent article by Jeff Roberts from Collective Evolution entitled, Why are people so mean?  Has the Internet destroyed empathy and compassion?

Alexis Brooks is the best-selling author of Conscious Musings - Contemplations to Transform Life and Realize Potential and is the host of the popular  Conscious Inquiry Radio program, exclusively presented by Conscious Life News.  Visit Alexis on FacebookTwitter and YouTube!