Mindless Scroll Indulgence
Facebook. Scroll. Instagram. Scroll. Twitter. Scroll. Scroll. Scroll.
Did you know that attention is a love language? It’s true. “Quality time” is one of the 5 love languages, and my personal favorite. ATTENTION IS A GIFT! We all can feel it when it’s good, and we can feel its absence when we’re missing it from a loved one. Or when we send something out that we think is hilarious to the internet, and it’s like, crickets out there. We get that lump that goes from the middle of the chest to the pit of the stomach and makes us just want to curl up into a little ball & disappear. We’ve all felt that way some time or another, yeah? Or what about that feeling of anger, when we’re trying to tell our loved one a really hilarious story, but they’re engrossed in their Mindless Scroll Indulgence (did ya see what I did there with today’s blog title...yeah...totally a music nerd). It’s frustrating right? To be trying to connect with someone, maybe on a first, or 200th date, sitting down at the restaurant (in the before or after times, of course) and they immediately pull out their phone without even looking at the menu first. Or maybe we’re that person. We’re all that person at some point or another, and as a 2020-dedicated six day a week meditator, even I have troubles with it sometimes.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me tweet a lot about what I guess I’m now just referring to as corporate imperialist media. Y’all, in the 20ish years since I graduated Virginia Tech with a degree in Mass Comm and zero desire to work for corporate media, I’ve found a Life as a sexy person on the internet instead. And in that 20 years of professionally marketing myself & various businesses, I’ve seen some shit. And I’ve experienced a lot too. The stuff that is occurring, being written about in the news, podcasted about, researched, dissertation’d & thesis’d about, whew, yeah. It’s all legit, unlike my made up words, but I’m a blogger and a storyteller, a weaver if you will. I make no claims to be an authority on media culture, other than my direct lived experience as an AFAB, queer person attempting to run an independent arts organization in a patriarchal, colonialist world for a decade…so what do I know?
The stuff I’d like to bring into awareness today is important stuff to consider now, in social media’s infancy, rather than too many years (aka a generation or two, time moves faster than ever in the digital age) down the road when we’ve lost the ability to communicate with each other without a screen in between. I mean, how hard is it already for you to people now when we haven’t even been in lockdown a year yet? Seriously...I wanna know. In fact I’d love to know your thoughts, reactions, responses, feedback, criticism, anything and everything you feel about this topic after reading this blog, because again, I’m seeking to generate conversation about this stuff in our communities. Sooooo...maybe instead of scrolling for an hour after family holiday dinner, let your brain dig into something a little deeper, and with feeling. Bonus if you can close your eyes and think about this stuff for 20 minutes before responding in the comments here on my website, and also not fall asleep too. If you’re able to do that, congratulations, you just practiced mindful meditation and discernment.
We’re about to go on a little, total Gen X jaunt with this blog topic here because as a latchkey generation kid, a crossroads generation kid, we’re experts at knowing how to play in our rooms by ourselves for days on end while grounded for getting caught wreaking havoc with our punk friends around the neighborhood. We have wild imaginations, generally can take care of ourselves and keep to ourselves in any given situation because we were trained at an early age to know our feelings didn’t matter. We generally learned only to speak up & out once shit got so bad we felt like we’d burst (hello survival instincts). Well, being a grown & sexy Gen X kid and being real tired of hearing the Boomers not listen to the Millenials, and the Millenials not even able to hear anything any Boomer says anymore, a lot of what I want to bring up to topic over the course of my writings is because somebody has to remind us that as a whole, none of us have been super great at paying attention & actually hearing each other. So let’s take a little trip back in time, and I want you to try to embody the picture I’m about to paint. Like, feel where my words make an impact in your physical sensation, and that’s the thread I’m interested in expanding upon.
I want you to picture...In the days long (eh, sorta...it’s all about perspective...the 80s are considered “vintage” now) before social media was at the tips of our touch and our constant attentiveness to its availability to pacify a mindless moment.
Try to take a moment, right now and truly embody what it would be like to wake up every morning and not have the urge to reach to our phone on the nightstand. Can you feel it? To not have the urge to keep ourselves company with AppleNews or TikTok while deucing out. To...not have any directions to anywhere we wanted to go, pulled up on a pocket sized device within seconds of punching in our destination...GASP! The horror. Younger generations will have no idea the skill it took to print out mapquest directions on a dot matrix printer, after physically hooking up a phone cord to our computer, and dialing into AOL, waiting for connection, waiting for the directions to load (not in an easily downloadable pdf I must add, do you remember webpage formatting back then...I shudder...) and then, still not have accurate directions (facepalm). Then we had to figure out how not to be forced through some crazy construction reroute through New Jersey, when we couldn’t take a left for 15 miles, all the while trying not to get pulled over for pot because our best friend brought a somewhat sketchy new love interest along. Y’all, finding directions took time. Everything on the internet took time. And before the internet...the internet took NO time. Now the internet takes ALL our time. What loop is this? What year are we in? Raise your hand if at any point this year you lost track of time scrolling the internet (raises hand in solidarity).
We have all this “convenience,” but no time. If we stopped to think about our seconds and minutes...or hours...ugh...just scrolling away, the things that we actually need to do on the internet are not actually that time consuming. Pay a bill here. Look up a wiki on a song we may wanna know the history of there. Email our family photos to aunt Hilda from the vacation we just took at the family time-share. Find quality erotica and-OK-maybe that one we can actually spend some time doing on the internet (support independent sex worker’s ya’ll, we are being deplatformed left & right). But let’s pause on that thought a moment...spend time on the internet. Spending implies we’re buying something, but what are we buying when we’re just endlessly scrolling “free” content?
Facebook. Scroll. Instagram. Scroll. Twitter. Scroll. Scroll. Scroll.
Every year new tech terminology comes into our lexicon. The word “meme” wasn’t even a word 20 years ago...or was it? Let’s look for a moment at the etymology of the word “meme.” You know what a meme is, you’ve seen them. Chances are you’ve got a group text going right now with several besties in which you only communicate with memes and gifs. Back in the 80s we used to speak our memes as just favorite movie quotes. I could have an entire conversation with my little brother using only Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters movie lines. Hard facts. Today, these communications of world-wide-inside-jokes have images attached, and we can spread them to folks, old or underage, indiscriminately all across the world in a matter of seconds. Whereas back in the 90s, it took us 20 minutes just to get online and into a AOL IM. We had to be diligent and concise with our meme sharing back then. We didn’t have all this time to be wasting being on the internet...
The word “meme” traces back to being a digital thought metaphor for what the genes in our DNA do by default… propagate a unit of cultural transmission. We come from a human lineage of tens of thousands of years of communicating with each other through oral tradition, and then picture symbolic tradition, and then inscribing upon parchment, and carving stone tablets, in order to propagate wisdom passed from previous generations. We think the printing press was the first time material was mass mimicked, but nope, white history washes again, and if it were not for religious scholars in China, Japan & Korea, Gutenberg wouldn’t have had his invention for the propagation of units of cultural transmission. We communicated by mouth, and then by hand for thousands and thousands of years prior to the digital age and the creation of the world’s first computer ENIAC in 1945. A massive u-shaped collection of calculating machinery and vacuum cooling devices that took up an entire 1,500 sq ft room. It was created in Philadelphia by John Presper Ekert Jr. on a military project to create a machine that could calculate munitions trajectory for the United States Army in the matter of seconds.
Full stop for just one of those seconds. The first books were religious texts, and the first computer was for strategizing violence.
Granted, there is plenty of fable in religious text, but the point is it was not a love story, or a hero’s tale that was first printed, it was books designed to instruct societies on moral code. Books that have since been flipped and utilized to oppress others who have varying cultural truths (and I’ll state for the record, I am not anti-Christian, but we’ll cover everything this may mean in another blog later). We have these wonderful tools of human ingenuity to improve communication and efficiency, and they were immediately utilized to propagate suffering.
In the present times, we have memes. And anyone who’s ever been a meme-sharer on the internet knows how often memes are used to poke fun, chide, bully, harass and oppress people. The early 2000s saw the creation of imageboard website 4Chan, and the world began it’s love of cat memes. Today, 4Chan has become known as “the most controversial place on the web” for its structure of allowing users to post whatever content they want anonymously, and becoming the perfect ,,breeding ground for fascism, neo white supremacy & dangerous conspiracy group QAnon. 4Chan started in the early 2000s. The word “meme” was around for 20 years before it made its official mark of historical permanence in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Only 20 years after essentially having mastered analog printing and reading from book format, for our collectively-somewhat-conscious brains to evolve to understand storytelling and folklore again in a fraction of a second. Just like we did when our ancestors shared memes with each other in the form of painted or carved animal descriptors on cave walls or landscapes. Thousands and thousands of years between pictographs of our earliest human struggles to imageboard of the scariest ‘alt’ corner of the web becoming an openly harmful propaganda of cultural transmission.
Could it be possible that our minds were not yet re-ready for such fast knowledge integrations now with so many more people to keep track of in our head? Let’s look at the truth of this situation real quick. What is the opposite of truth? I’ll give you a second to think about it……...Would you say it’s “lie?” What is a “lie?” Neo-Nazi’s might tell you the Holocost was a lie. Our parents may have told us that Santa Claus was real. Both of these “truths” have a cultural meaning to their specific traditions, oral and written. We believed Santa was real, but then may have had our innocent little hearts crushed when sneaking out late after bed on Christmas Eve to see Dad arranging plastic toys & sweaters we’ll never wear under the tree. That’s why the opposite of “truth” is not “lie,” it’s belief…
What do we believe about the internet? Well, what truths do we know?
We know here in 2020 that the internet is a place we can go for an endless stream of media and an open portal to more knowledge than we could ever take in and retain in our humble, little, lizard, human, brain, lives. We know that when we have nothing to do in our homes for months on end (omg, please wear a mask and avoid gatherings people), we can always reach to our device to satisfy an insatiable itch we just cannot ever seem to scratch. Why is it like that? What do we believe about ourselves with this itch? What do we believe about others? Are we afraid that if we stop scrolling we might miss the most important nugget of info that could help us get food or financial aid in the middle of an economic crisis? Are we afraid of what lame-duck 45 is going to say or who he’s going to pardon next? Are we afraid that thing we definitely said on the internet back in 1998 that was absolutely deplorable & problematic because we truly didn’t know better at the time because no one taught us better, is going to get dug up by a frenemy and we’ll get canceled and thereby our existence wiped off the face of the planet?! Oh my goodness the things we can let our minds believe about the internet and everybody on it.
As someone who has no desire to tell you what to think, I am deeply passionate about being a Catalyst about how to think. Or why to think.
So here’s a truth about the internet I’d like to share with you, and it’s the point of this uncomfortable jaunt down foggy memory lane. The internet as it is today in a broad sense, is and was developed and designed to hold your attention, and then profit off your lifeforce without you even realizing it.
Raise your hand if you doomscrolled this year? What a HORRID term. DOOMscroll. As if scrolling away our attention spans & energy wasn’t bad enough, now we have this word that implies subjecting ourselves to unwanted doom & gloom, chicken-little, omg-the-sky-is-falling-the-sky-is-falling anxiety. And depression. All because we believed if we stayed on the internet long enough, that we would somehow get over the hill of some emotional experience of the day that would bring us relief of being “right” or “wrong” about a person, place, topic or thing. In social media technology advancement, techy, corporate, privileged “innovators” researched the human brain’s reaction to differing media functions, and those that held our attention longer were given the thumbs up to world wide distribution. Why? So that these techy, corporate, privileged media imperialists could make more money from advertisers & investors. That function that all your favorite medias do where you can literally just scroll forever….yeah, that’s there to monetize your life for other people’s advancement while it steals precious minute after minute of your daily attention, energy and joy. And if you’d like a really good “look” and reference into how all this works, I highly, highly encourage you to get off social media at some point over this holiday weekend and go watch “The Social Dilemma” and “The Great Hack.” And then give yourself some pie, a walk around the block or a bath, and a much needed break from the internet.
This year has seen unprecedented times (eyeroll) in millions of ways because every single human on the planet has been affected by two viral agents this year. The one that attacks our lungs, and the one that attacks our brains, misinformation. What we are seeing right now in the press regarding lawsuits, investigations, fines, withdrawls, proposed laws and more about social media, needs to alarm you. And it’s not just because sex workers have been outed, marginalized, silenced, deleted, banned and deplatformed due to purposefully vague “terms of service,” of our “free internet” services. It’s also because of the antivax misinformation, election misinformation, Black, Indigenous & antifacist activists being targeted, doxxed and in some cases, murdered for speaking out their truths (I’m not linking to any articles because it would be inappropriate & disrespectful, you can do your own research). Y’all, Jeffrey Epstein didn’t just up and “commit suicide” in custody, and the U.S. Treasury department wasn’t targeted by Russian hackers this year for no reason. Visa & Mastercard didn’t just withdraw their payment processing from Porn Hub for no reason. Two bipartisan senators didn’t introduce an even scarier internet communication act to “save trafficking victims” for no reason. The FTC isn’t suing Facebook for no reason. I’m not writing this blog to you, and you’re not reading it now for no reason.
The reason is misinformation.
That and your brain has sent you some kind of signal because somehow you found your way here because my energy spoke to you in a way that piqued an interest you can feel inside you about health & survival. Algorithms, surveillance and AI technology may not matter to you, but it sure does matter to the far too many teenage Black activists speaking out about police brutality. NO ONE needs to be able to see where those folks live, go to school, hang out, etc. Because we already know there are dangerous people willing to go to the length of murder to propagate a cultural transmission they “believe” is the “truth.”
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts this year, Ologies, to an episode about the future and the topic of AI, Siri and Alexa came up. I have joked on some of my best friends for utilizing these convenience devices, to the point of just outright making up funny stories to speak to Alexa when I was in their home. Because as an open sex worker and now I guess, eco-anarcho-feminist (and again, storyteller, not a politician) with somewhat of a smallish media following, why wouldn’t it want to listen to me (lulz)? In this podcast, the Rose Eveleth, futureologist, is interviewed by host Alie Ward, and they were discussing what happens when a digital surveillance court case finally reaches the supreme court (now with even more 2020 unbalanced power, yay), and humans no longer have “any reasonable expectation of privacy” and surveillance is poof, legalized. Sorry what? It becomes a potential future when we knowingly allowed these devices to listen in unchecked, to our homelife, our pockets and our automobiles for years. That should scare you. Because that’s why the fuck we have the Terminator movies, Time Bandits, and Total Recall y’all. Caring about media ethics is not just for sex workers and anarchists. It’s for all us everyday humans without any labels needed, who don’t need a device taking a recorded record of everything we buy on Amazon. What happens if the imperialist elite decide that some of us don’t get stimulus checks because we spend it frivolously instead of on bills & vegetables because we no longer have a cash system and everything is tracked? Or what happens when some of us don’t get to have a vaccine because our pocket surveillance recorded us attending a protest, or a large gathering from a political opponent speaking out against whoever funds the particular AI company we’re paying to eavesdrop on us? AI and algorithm developers already get to dictate how our minds work because they were paid high dollar by advertisers and company owners ,,accused of monopolizing the same very communication market we spend hours and hours of our day online feeding our very own imperialist oppression. They call us “consumers” but really, it’s us being consumed by them.
Why am I saying all of this? Because I’m someone also working my hardest every damn day to release the mindless hold that my pocket device has on me. Because in some way shape or form, I’m someone who either makes or doesn’t make a living based on whether my friends and fans are in their mind and paying attention today, or just scrolling while halfway having a conversation with someone in another room. I’m saying all of this because I have experienced media trauma and suffering, personally and tangentally, on just about every damn side & level of social culture from predator call outs, racist call outs, and even having my personal, intimate content hacked & posted live to fucking facebook for a full 6 minutes before my friends scrambled to reach me on the phone (Goddess blesssss my friends). ❤️
I’m saying all of this because as a Professional Catalyst, alchemizing my own suffering into loving wisdom is how I’m made. Apparently. I’m still getting used to it, lol. Y’all, I’m saying all of this because I’ve been a heavily practicing meditator for 2-years now, and I still have trouble not reaching for it. I’ve had to train myself away from it, much like we train our pets to sit for treats. It’s not my fault, or humanity’s fault that it’s hard, it’s how we’re programmed. Our brains are programmed this way for survival. Survival entails constantly surveilling the field around us for threats. That’s why we are fearful when we post controversial topics on social media, because it tips off our stress instinct, our fight, flight, freeze & fawn reaction (yes, I feel anxiety in my chest every time I publicly speak or write, yes I practice meditation in order to reduce this very anxiety). We want to survive. We need to survive. Some of us need safe, ethical access to the internet in order to make a living and care for our families. I for one believe safe, equal internet access is a human right. There are kids right now in disenfranchised communities who have had their cognitive learning greatly impacted during this pandemic because they ,,do not have equal access to the internet like their privileged counterparts in neighboring counties. We don’t need an endless scroll function and more, more, more. What we need is our own brain’s ability, to choose what is right, safe and healthy for us in any given moment in time. Something we have a very hard time accomplishing when we are constantly living in stress or FOMO.
So this is my ask and challenge to you. Try to go a whole day without looking at social media. Just try it. See how it goes. Then maybe try to track your weekly usage, your phone probably has a function that already does that for you, and if not, there are plenty to download. Then maybe try not reaching for your phone the first thing when you wake up, or as you go to bed because you’re putting off sleep for one more little dopamine hit to relieve the day’s stress before dreamtime. Why are we relieving our screen usage with screen usage? All of these little moments of time away from our devices add up. They add up to more time we get to spend in the present company of our loved ones, with a good book, playing with our pet, or repotting our plant that we keep trying to kill every week because we’re too busy on our phones and “forget” to water it. All these moments add up to us reclaiming our own attention away from the attention economy that preys on all of us. We are humans. We have not evolved our brains on a cross-cultural spread wide & fast enough to keep up with the speed of information in our pockets and truly understand, and embody that we can’t be taking in information all day long and have time to process it. That downtime between (helloooo meditation) is the stillness in which our unconscious self uses discernment to choose how we want to live our lives because we’re awake to our thoughts and urges and how they make us feel in our body. Our devices are designed to make us take in milliseconds of stories and folklore from folks & subcultures we don’t even know IRL from across the world, but we forget to pick up a phone and call a friend we actually know, who lives alone, during a pandemic to check in on them and find out if they’re ok…
I’m OK y’all, but as someone who makes their living and has been making their living from media promotions for 20-odd years, I would not be speaking this stuff, and putting it down on this webbed trail of electronic code where it can live on the World Wide Web in perpetuity, forever and ever and ever, AMEN (yes, that was Witchcraft I just did there)... if I didn’t think this stuff was information that could one day save yours, or someone else’s life. I wouldn’t be saying it because I depend on the internet for my income. There are two types of people in the world, the type that tells us we have spinach in our teeth and...
I’m just a Media Witch and a non-binary, queer, sex-worker & human rights advocate who’s about to undergo a 2-year training to be a certified meditation instructor. I have no desire to be yours, or anybody’s influencer because Witches don’t uphold imperialist propaganda. Guru culture is dead y’all, I’m not your insta-witch. Us Media Witches though, have always been here. We’ve always been eco-anarcho-feminists, and we prefer the outskirts. If this is the kind of information that you’d like to bring into your perspective of possible discernment about what’s best for you, then I thank you so kindly for being here and reading to the end. Attention is a fucking gift y’all. I thank you for sharing yours with me, and gracing me with the opportunity to do so with you. ❤️
As we move into 2021, with this urge to get back to normal we need to take the time to discern what in our lives we shouldn’t normalize anymore. I’m normalizing talking about hard stuff because not talking about it doesn’t help right this upside down energy in the world. 2020 is just about gone, but the underlying problems that caused so much destructive effect on humanity are embedded deeper than ever, and now we have these communication devices that zoom information around at the speed of Light. We’re humans. We don’t travel at the speed of Light. We travel at the speed our grounded Mother Earth allows, and if there is one thing we can all learn from 2020, is that Mother Nature ain’t fuckin’ around anymore. We have all just found out.
I am a 100% community funded, independent, queer, artist, sex worker, mindfulness student, Professional Catalyst and now blogger. ️ Like many, my income has been greatly impacted this year, and I am currently not making enough to pay my bills & get by. If you would like to support my work, which supports my health & wellbeing, please subscribe . A $5 a month contribution is very meaningful, and supports my schooling through the Mindful Meditation Teacher Certification Program, of which I am a class of ‘23 scholarship recipient. Social media shares are also, the most helpful y’all. If you dig my words and they meant something to you, please take a moment to let your friend circles know, post me to your feed, or send my blog direct the old fashioned way, direct by text or email & digital word-of-mouth. Spread me like WildFire y'all. ✊❤️️️
Thank you again for your time & support. Be well out there & blessings to your new year!