The Ego, “E-go” and What it Means to Transcend.
One can approach defining the ego in various ways. In psychoanalysis the ego is the self that mediates between what is conscious, such as wakeful sensory-experience, and what is unconscious: things that reside deep in the psyche that of which we are unaware of. Similarly, in philosophy the ego is considered as one’s thinking self. To those who do not know of the ego: What is it you begin listing when someone asks you who you are? — That is the ego; the idea one possesses of their self and personality. Simply put, the ego is who you perceive yourself to be across time and varying conditions. I like to think of the ego as if you put a mirror in your mind, in most instances this is not a clear mirror but one of the warped and distorted ones associated with carnivals and clowns. This mirror attempts to reflect not just your idea of your physical appearance but your very abstract, metaphysical ideas of what define you as you; providing little accuracy as they are subject to the distorted medium of the mirror. These are the ideas you possess such as your name, your culture, ethnicity, interests and disinterests, your social status, the comparing / contrasting between you and other individuals, notions of what others might think of you, who you wish to become, the past self that haunts you now — an infinite list constantly changing across time and space as you do the same, yet the ego always remains one step ahead, marginalizing your potential and weighing you down with expectations. An illusory construct, an act of trying, the ego is a collection of symbols and ideas at which we feel condemned to separate our self from the other all while driving toward finding validation in identity; a drive which often takes an individual through the most deceptive means in order to be satisfied, and only reaching superficial, or surface level, satisfaction at that.
As we have progressed into the digital age, it is very easy to get caught up in ourselves as we project our egos onto platforms like social media, where everyone is an individual, sharing their biography, along with pictures, videos, ideas, opinions, you name it. Along with this feeling of needing to be an individual, is this superficial sense of social status that is calculated by number of friends, followers, likes, etc. This perpetuates a war in the psyche between the inflation of the ego by validation and deflating it by the lack of validation. Either side of the spectrum can leave the individual in states of pathology, insecurity and countless other unhealthy modes of being. My argument here is not to state whether the use of social media is good or bad for humanity but is turned toward addressing the root of the matter which if depicted clearly and understood will bring clarity toward the use of social media as well as many other facets of life, but I do propose the possibility for one to use social media and the e-go as tool for reflection, growth and understanding regarding an issue that the majority of, humanity does face — our conception that the ego is our real selves.
As we pour endless effort into attempting to be our best selves on the internet as well as in our everyday lives, we neglect the parts of ourselves that truly do make us our best selves. As we do our best to be seen as individuals, a quality we each already possess as well as share as a collective, we are divided and alienated from not only others, but our environment, our body and ourselves. Extremely complex to degrees we may never understand and constantly changing as the environment surrounding us does the same, the fictional ego does not take into account all of what we truly are, physically or metaphysically. A name, category, or culture does not accurately portray the quantity of qualities of a person. So how must we try to transcend the ego? We should not try at all. The very act of trying to transform ourselves to meet our idea of being better is the idea the ego derives from. If the ego is just a complicated mess of ideas, does it have to exist at all? It seems the moment we reflect and tell ourselves we need to be better the psyche gathers up a thousand hurdles between us and better, but if we truly knew what was better for ourselves wouldn’t we already be doing that?
I must give some accreditation to Alan Watts for providing fundamental ideas of which I could expand on as well as apply my own experience to.