Social Media as a Spiritual Space

In the axial age (around 2 to 3 thousand years ago) some humans such as Buddha, Socrates and Christ achieved spiritual enlightenment. This means: they gained the ability to stand back from their emotions and thoughts and not be moved instinctively by them. They could look at their own mind with some distance and so disidentify with it.

In a religious context, as with Christ and Arjuna in the Gita, this skill was called faith. In a nonreligious context, as with Buddha and Socrates, this skill was called skepticism.

For most of the last 2,000 years human fighting took the form of physical fighting. You controlled your mind – through faith or skepticism – and so thereby controlled how you physically engaged with others.

Now our main interaction with our neighbors and most people is not physical but mental. In many parts of the society, getting into physical fights is not much of a concern.

Not that we have transcended our fighting instincts. Just that insitutionally and structurally, the fighting instincts don’t take the form of physical fighting.

They take the form of intellectual and emotional fighting.

Social media thus is the true indicator of where we are as a community and species. As our social interactions are mediated more and more through social media and computers, our general inability to control our mind will be evident in how we engage with each other on the internet, cell phones and social media.

This is perhaps the greatest change brought about by the computer revolution in the last 30 years, and especially as social media and cell phones have taken off in the last 15 years.

As evident in our politics and culture, our fights have taken on the form enabled by social media.

Is it better if we can go back in time? No. To overcome our mind as a species, our mental convulsions have to be evident to us. A hundred years ago, this was not as evident, as it was hard to seperate out physical instincts from mental instincts.

Now, on social media, physical instincts aren’t as relvant. So the mental nature of the instincts are more evident.

These mental instincts are grounded in taking themselves at face value as correct. So social media fighting looks like: my mental instinct is better/more true/more moral/more evolved than your mental instinct.

These are mental brawls. Mental mud slinging. Mental hair pulling.

It involves taking one’s mind at face value and going with it without skepticism or without a faith which questions the mind.

This new fighting in social media is a harbinger for our next coming spiritual evolution. The people who are able to control their own minds and engage in social media and so create new possibilities of social interaction in our social media age will lead the way to a brighter world.

Like John the Baptist, I look forward to the coming of such spiritual heroes.