Digital Gluttony and the Hunger for Wonder

One of the particularly strange phenomena observable in modern man is seen here:

Even if we were to say, for the sake of argument, that these smart-phones and other gadgets are worth owning, what could possibly compel people to sacrifice so much time, foregone earnings, comfort, and dignity just to wait in line to get the chance to spend money on them? Don’t these people realize they could save a tremendous amount of time, earnings, comfort, and dignity by simply purchasing these things the normal way? Really, you’re going to collapse and die if you don’t get the new phone the day it comes out? Can’t tolerate the current phone a single day more? (Which was probably also obtained through the endurance of such deprivations.)

Here’s what’s going on: people need Wonder. Homo sapiens, literally the thinking man, developed under conditions that provided for plenty of awe. Until quite recently, nearly all human beings could look up into the night sky and behold an overwhelming display of the galaxy. Nearly all human beings were daily surrounded by natural splendor the likes of which are today the luxury of a very few. For non-modern man, such wondrous things provided the inspiration to develop religion, culture, art, and science. Moreover, most occupations were physical, menial, thus freeing the mind for contemplative exercise. But most people now, if they are to encounter such things at all, are only able to do so very briefly and at great intervals – when they leave the race-rat for their allotted vacation time and go to some more natural place for example.

Tech008

Otherwise, people attempt – quite in vain – to satisfy the need for wonder by seeking out the miracles of tech. People waiting in line all night for the iPhone 10 are devotees to the iDol self-flagellating outside of their temple, sacrificing so much to the one miracle-working god they have left.

Tech004

Your optimal healthy self is a certain portion of carbon, a certain portion of nitrogen, a certain portion of oxygen, and selenium, and iron, etc, a certain level of rigor, a certain level of repose, a certain amount of hours awake, a certain amount asleep. Most people acknowledge this, and it is folly to think you can be healthy – physically and mentally – despite living in a super-populated concrete madhouse of traffic jams, endless noise, trash, foul air, modern architecture, starless nights, and a general and unceasing assault against all that is beautiful and sacred.

According to UN figures, in 1950, only 30% of the world’s population lived in cities. By 2014, the number had risen to 54% and by 2050 it is expected to be about two thirds! The majority of human beings alive right now cannot see the stars at night. That’s really serious. This is a boiled-frog type of development. Most people don’t know any other life. What a swindle science has pulled on us all!

power outage

We are hungry for miracles, it’s how we were crafted by our environment over a very long period of time. Prior to the industrialization of man, we had steady contact with the miracle of seeds germinating, the miracle of crops sprouting, the miracle of baby humans and baby livestock being born, the miracle of good (and bad) weather which was an angel of fortune (or angel of chastisement), we had the miracle of the cycle of seasons, the harvest of crops, the Milky Way, the northern lights, sunrises and sunsets. The infatuation our society has with gadgets is a fill-in for the experience of awe that was with us until the last 5 minutes of human life. Just as the person lacking a key nutrient is driven by instinct to seek it (which in our present day means pigging out on snacks), so the modern man, bereft of miracles, seeks them out – in a digital world.

Tech010

The analogy can be developed further: Just as compulsive eating almost always results in a failed attempt at acquiring valuable nutrition (and thus leads to the increased malnourishment of the person!), so too the attempt at connecting with wonder through the digital medium never satisfies and the consumption of ersatz-wonder simply leaves the person more bereft. It is instructive that many peoples’ openly admitted indulgences of this type are things like photos of baby animals shared on facebook (the miracle of birth). How much time do you have for a real kitten when you are vegging out on facebook? Obviously, indulgences in digital gluttony take other forms which people are less open about, take porn for example (the miracle of sex). Guys who are actually getting laid are not consuming porn. In fact, if you are a regular porn-consumer, you are wrecking your ability to bed women in real life. (I strongly recommend the avoidance of even occasional porn.)

Something else is at work here. Fire. Fire has been an important and constant part of the human experience from primitive times all the way up to the industrial age; a source of warmth, a means of cooking, but just as importantly, serving as a social nexus. After a day of laboring rigorously for a living, family members would retire to fire-pit or hearth to relax and socialize. Evidence for the controlled use of fire by Homo erectus, beginning some 600,000 years ago, has wide scholarly support. Flint blades burned in fires roughly 300,000 years ago were found near fossils of early but not entirely modern Homo sapiens in Morocco. Evidence of widespread control of fire by anatomically modern humans dates to approximately 125,000 years ago. It is great folly to imagine that this long relationship with fire does not incline our brains to an appetite for something visually mesmerizing. An essentially healthy appetite which is today satisfied almost entirely by screen time. It is just one of many ways ancient and normal proclivities are, once high-tech enters the picture, the very things driving us into self-disintegration. Other examples can be made of racial miscegenation, obesity and pathological altruism, which I hope to cover very soon.

So, what to do?

Obviously, this and every other modernity-based problem will be rapidly purged away once electrical power is defeated. I am wholly confident that this will happen, be it by human hands or by the hand of God. The details about how this will happen are not relevant at this moment. What is relevant is this: it is imperative that we start transitioning into the Non-Electric Life (the NEL). Prep, prep, prep! Position you / your family in good, fertile land and among good people. Start learning the old life skills and crafts which were the bread and butter of human existence until the last 5 minutes of our history. God only knows how much time we have before this modern “civilization” collapses. The big up-side is that transforming you and your family into traditional human beings is actually very invigorating, very positive, very interesting, very challenging, and you will also start to form meaningful relationships with people. Get away from those damned screens! Obviously, this is not something that everybody can do in one jump, and one should not lose heart over this.

One idea is this: take an audit of your screen time. This is actually very easy since your browser history automatically does this for you. For best effect, it is highly recommendable to go through your history and read out-loud every entry:

“At 11:34 pm, I looked at baby cats at http://www.babykittenpics4you.com.”

“At 11:39 pm, I looked at sportsball clips at ESPN for 37 minutes.”

“At 12:16 am, I watched porn clips (again) for almost an hour.”

You get the picture. By reading the entries aloud, you make the confrontation with yourself more concrete. Long before the end of this exercise you will have gone through embarrassment, grief, and wrath. That’s actually great! Get mad, but don’t let it break your spirit. Remember, technology is leveraging normal impulses against you. You will soon see that with internet consumption you are throwing literally years of your life – the best years of your life – to shit.

Tech006

I realize that it is unlikely that you can go totally web-free today. That’s not even the goal right now. You might have to work on-line, or, maybe your best access to survival and traditional living skills is on-line. Fine. In fact, if the NEL is something you wish to work towards, I can guarantee you that we have plenty of work to do on-line, much the same way that Christ had to reach people where they were. But for right now, just trim out the majority of your screen time that is pure shit. It’s very liberating. Go outside. Go camping/fishing/hunting. Make a bonfire. Socialize with family and friends face-to-face. Practice traditional living skills.

Another very good idea is this: a technological sabbath. Set aside one day per week, every week without exceptions (or perhaps with some pre-determined rigid boundaries) when you totally disengage from the phone, the TV, the internet, the traffic, commerce, etc. I’ve been doing this since I was 21 or 22. I am now pushing 40. Easily one of the best habits of my life. Highly, highly recommend it.

Tech011

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s