I think Claudia Conway, the daughter of Kellyanne Conway who has become a recent TikTok star, is making a very strong case for being the symbol of the emotional, psychological, and spiritual devastation that excess social media is having upon the lives of American teenagers and their families of origin.

Unfortunately, much of the American media has uncritically praised her as “a whistleblower” and “a hero,” but in fact this young girl is doing something that resembles digitally pimping out not only her own mother, but her very soul for any click, like, or view she can generate for her rapidly increasing following. …

We are fast approaching a point in the intersubjective texture of American life in which if one does not find immediate agreement with someone else’s discourse or language, it will automatically be experienced as oppressive, violent, and privileged.

This does not point to something simple like, “The problem is we are refusing to really listen to each other and understand,” but rather the fact we have passed the point in which listening to the Other is even possible.(1)

The worst kind of violence, which is always an outward expression of internalized emotional and spiritual dysfunction, does not emerge from differentiation, clear and distinct boundaries in which one can easily relate to Otherness; but rather the terror of Sameness,(2) the horrifying feeling that you are losing yourself to the Other’s desire. …

The function of the sacred in indigenous communities and archaic societies across the planet was always the power to keep violence at a distance; the capacity to somehow protect the community from the specter of internal destructive violence.(1)

This sacred power was always accessed through ritual, ceremony, and in certain cases, the use of psychoactive plants, a point noted specifically by Terence McKenna in his theory of hominization and the early developments of human community.(2)

Today, the sacred, this mysterious power that keeps human beings at a distance from open violence against each other, is thoroughly rooted in the mechanisms of both technology and consumerism — the integration of global capitalism and computational power — versus formal rituals geared towards a metaphysical horizon. …


Brian Francis Culkin

writer, fillmmaker, theorist, founder The Way of the 12 Plants. Author of 13 books and director of 3 films. www.brianculkin.com / www.12plants.org