Learning About Yourself In the Age of Ignorance

Learning about ourselves is an arduous and complex process that requires our entire lifetime. It is a constant process of self awareness on our interaction with ourselves and with each other. If learning about ourselves means learning about the glasses in which we view the world then we will learn about the world when we learn about ourselves. Each one of us are steadily becoming more and more reactive, we are merely responding to the stimulus that is given to us at any given moment. We’re similar to a fisherman without the skill to read charts and stars, unable to find bearing in the ocean. We are clueless as to how Our internal processing works, we are totally unaware of our own actions and on top of that we don’t care about it. Most of us only know a fraction of ourselves because it is very difficult but add to that the current trend where people build their entire persona, image and personality in social media. Before, we know only a little about ourselves but now we build an entirely new personality in social media where people barely even realize the consequences of their own action..

How social media don’t need your authentic self

Today we know people through their social media, through the image they post and through their interaction with the online world. In other words, we live in the world where the self is constructed entirely in social media and depends on likes, followers, and praise from people we don’t even know. Social media adds another layer to our already frail personality as a human being where we often confuse the personality we construct in social media and our own personality, our seeming self and authentic self. Why? Because in this age existence is often associated with appearance, if you appear in the news or in social media then you finally “exist”. When your video or post goes viral, you exist. This is growing into a trend in social media, where popularity is the ultimate goal for “becoming”. This is the line when we started to abandon our authentic self in social media in favor of becoming the “trending” value in society. Everyone seems to conceal their authentic self, instead opting to show the image that our society accept and love. The authentic self seems to hide somewhere from our day-to-day lives and only appear in the fleeting moments when we are sincere and honest. Our authentic self often slides under and conform to social pressure.

Modern society doesn’t care about who you are

Guy Debord, a 20th century philosopher talks about the human condition in his 1967’s book The Society Of The Spectacle where he predicted that we will come to forgo the truth in favor of the spectacle, the appearance will prevail over the essence. He said

Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.”

Even though that Debord’s elaborates the nature of human condition as a product of capitalism and consumerism in our society, we can also see it today as a by-product of technologies and social media. His basic premise is that the modern society appreciates appearance more than truth, it thrives on seeing something as what it sees rather than going deeper to know what is. It is, by all means, an anti-thesis to a society that values truth and authenticity. Goenawan Muhammad in his book, On God and Other Unfinished Things, says that “we live in an oculocentric culture: in other words, we almost fully equate the “known” with the “visible” and thus all things related to the eye crowd in to fill our language.” the word Oculocentric needs to be reiterated as it is connected with much of our everyday lives including how we interact, mass media, and all the industry that surrounds us. Surely a society that respects the visible while ignoring the meaningful values we lived by can never be a good society, it can never bring a whole-hearted change to the problems we face today.

Society is constantly desensitizing us to important values we used to uphold. Tragedies and violence are constantly twisted into political meaning for the powerful, we become addicted to senseless popularity and idolize those with it. The true test for each of us is to try and hold onto our authentic self without being distorted by these noises rumbling all around us. Can we still be an empathetic, sensitive, and aware human being even though those values seems to be “old” according to our modern society? Or will we be the greedy, ambitious, selfish human being that society program us to be? So, can we stay true to our authentic self? Can we preserve the part that made us who we are in spite of all the disturbance that exist in our society? Each and every one of us is an extraordinary, dynamic individual with the capacity to change. We can decide whether we’ll be swept away by the waves of society or stand firm and be true to ourselves. We can decide whether mass media and social media control us or we control its functionality by being aware of everything we do with it. Ultimately, everybody will face a different battle on becoming and staying true to themselves against the obstacle we call life.