Social Media — Modern Day ‘Plague of Frogs’
I head a good Dvar Torah the other day (and I am far from an ‘I heard a good Dvar Torah’ kinda guy) that asked: What was so bad about the Plague of Frogs? It seems out of place, compared to the rest in intensity. It wasn’t like Darkness or Locusts. What was so bad was: The frogs were so ubiquitous, you couldn’t hear even yourself think.
And it just reminded me of how ubiquitous information is. And it’s not high quality either. And how it must be having the same effect on us.
Gary Vee, to his credit, even though he’s one of the biggest names in social media, always talks about how ‘it gets real real quiet’, ‘when you are in tune with yourself.’ So he is doing the Social Media thing, but he at some point wants you to tune out all the noise and do you.
Naval has similar advice: “Every exceptional person is built in solitude. Because society is over socialized. There’s too many voices in our head, from TV’s, from social media, from the Clubhouse here, from me talking to you, there’s just too much noise. Even all the stuff that I’m saying to you is noise. Because you’re gonna go back and gonna be like ‘Man that guy had 20 great ideas, how do I become like him’? And that’s completely the wrong answer, you’re never going to be me, but you can be an amazing version of you.”
RZA, writes in Tao of Wu: “I advise everyone to find an island in this life. Find a place where this culture can’t take energy from you, sap your will and originality. Since anything mental can be physical, that island can be your home. Turn off the electromagnetic waves being forced upon you, the countless invisible forces coming at you all the time.”
And NNT, in Black Swan, writes: “I propose that if you want a simple step to a higher form of life, as distant from the animal as you can get, then you may have to denarrate, that is, shut down the television set, minimize time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs. Train your reasoning abilities to to control your decisions… The insulation from the toxicity of the world will have an additional benefit: it will improve your wellbeing.”
I also wrote in a previous post, on Stanislaw Ulam & Feynman, about how socialization would divert them from thinking in their natural way. Namely, when a friend asked Ulam “why he constantly wanted company” he admitted ‘When I am alone, I am forced to think things out.’”
Kobe is another example, of tuning out the noise. In an interview he said “Game 7 of a playoff series, I’d listen to Smells Like Teen Spirit. Why? Because it took me back to high school, where basketball was just fun, and we were playing with friends. All this hype and media wasn’t around. You’re just in a gym, with like 200 people in the stands, in high school, watching you play.”
It is telling, that when just about all of us would want to be in a Game 7, on a nationally televised game, with all this hype and media around, Kobe would mentally put himself in a more solitary place. He could only do so mentally and not actually, because he performed ‘in the arena,’ but there are many examples of high achievers who actually physically and digitally isolated themselves.
Writer Neal Stephenson, for example, has no contact email on his personal website. Physicist Peter Higgs, as another, couldn’t be reached by email when he won his Nobel Prize, because he didn’t have an email or computer. I could go on, but the point is they block out the noise, so they can hear themselves think, and allow their creativity to rise to the top and go undistracted.
There are two types of knowledge/information: Those you can write down, and those you can’t. We all know people who do something a lot better than us, and no matter how much they tell us how they do it, we can’t match up. Likewise, we probably all have skills we can do better than anyone else, with less effort than anyone else, and we probably couldn’t explain well how we do it either.
So yeah, we might be surrounded by ‘information’, which isn’t even that high quality to begin with. But, that information from within us, of how to do something so naturally and effortlessly, in a way that can never be written in in a book, that’s what’s being distracted away from us, time and time again. And our own talents, and intuition, and knowledge, that we’re meant to contribute, never sees the light of day.