I’ve always struggled with conforming. I’ve been to the edge, I’ve even stepped over the edge on more than one occasion. I’ve pushed boundaries because I don’t believe in the model, much like I believe in democracy, but don’t believe in the democratic process. Consequently I don’t vote, I refuse to be complicit in something that I believe is fundamentally broken. I refuse to be manipulated by charlatans who intentionally misdirect my attention from the truth, I don’t watch the news for the very same reason. The news is supposed to be objective but it would have you believe that the world is a dangerous place. The machine is responsible for this, it controls us through fear.
The model is broken, humans are the only species on this planet that take their own lives. Consciousness should be a blessing not a curse, we have been gifted a wonderful opportunity to protect and nourish. The term humanity implies the trait of kindness, or benevolence. Humans have the capacity for altruism, to help without expectation of reward, but we are seduced by the machinations of the modern civilised world that convinces us that status and materialism are more important than humanity. We are over-stimulated and hence distracted from our true purpose.
Avoiding the news does make me immune to the negativity that strives to control us. I am reluctantly quite prevalent on social media; the internet has opened the world to us, the information superhighway, no question is ever unanswered, right or wrong, its always answered. However with this, you are potentially exposed to unsolicited, biased opinion and conjecture. Confirmation bias abounds and objectivity is often lost. Social media is the new playground for adults, keyboard warriors clamour for recognition and status. Virtual reality is not reality.
No one is immune to mental illness. It is a complex mechanism that involves physical and psychological causes that are not mutually exclusive. Mental well-being is a journey that requires work, it requires structure and discipline, something we lack in this busy world. The difference between a problem and a challenge is always perspective. It’s important to take responsibility and ownership for your mental health, but its just as important to know when to reach out and ask for help. Disappointingly, we seem to have lost the ability to effectively communicate with our fellow man.
Social media is a confusing voyeuristic dream and nightmare, all mixed into one. Thankfully there were no camera phones around when I was a carefree hedonist, I’m not sure where I would be if there had been. I’ve checked YouTube and I’m not featured in any of the raves that I attended. It appears that I’m safe!
Perhaps the premise behind social media was connection, however it’s apparent that it is a very superficial and narcissistic endeavour that appears to feed insecurity and isolation if you do not conform. It has become a virtual society with a peculiar hierarchical structure that relies on followers, subscribers and little dopamine hits called ‘likes’. You can either be validated or vilified, it depends on the mood of the herd. You don’t need substance or accreditation, just popular opinion. Humility is replaced by ego, and ego drives the machine.
We are over-stimulated which means we are easily distracted. The fickle nature of social media means that people can be flippant and dismissive without fear of recrimination and retribution, not realising that the negative effect of a derogatory comment can have lasting impact on the person it is directed to. Important topics are superseded by cat videos, people are led to believe that there is some inherent value in being connected, not realising that they are becoming disconnected with reality. The trivial and superficial nature of social media is having a negative impact on mental health. Virtual reality is not reality, at least not yet.
We have sadly lost the ability to communicate with our fellow man. We have our faces buried in our smart phones, never fully being present in the moment. Connection is now predicated on the use of technology, not human interaction. We are becoming blind to the signs of mental unrest because we are so immersed in artificial intelligence and the narcissistic model of self and materialism. It’s easy to hide beneath platitudes and diversion techniques that remove the need for truth.
We are being misguided into believing that fame and fortune will bring us peace. Robin Williams was quoted as saying, “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.” People are so deeply embroiled in the machine they are blind to the most blatant cries for help. Exactly how deep down the rabbit hole do you need to be before you question the nature of this existence?
We all want to affect a positive change to humanity, we are all disturbed by the ever-growing number of suicides that haunt our social media timelines and wonder what we can do as individuals to affect a positive change. We all recognise the need to raise awareness of the importance of mental health, we are being encouraged to talk about our mental health but are still lacking the courage to open up to our fellow man because of the superficial nature of our society. Yesterday was ‘World Mental Health Day’, today is ‘Save Ferris Day’. We fear judgement and recrimination for truth, not realising that behind every mask there is a story that has both positive and negative elements.
Your journey is subjectively unique, but objectively similar in nature to many people’s experiences. Trust me when I say that as a doctor, I have heard it all, time after time. We can evolve as a species with shared experience. I’ve had a few bouts of reactive depression, I shared My Story – #ChooseTRT with the hope of others realising that as personal and painful as their story may be, we are all walking wounded and there is nothing to fear apart from fear itself. I don’t fear judgement because I still have enough faith in humanity to believe that good will conquer evil. I am happy, occasionally sad, but through hard work I have the resilience to turn negativity into positivity. If I can’t change a negative experience, I will attempt to understand and rationalise it so that I can move forwards on my journey.
There are well-documented warning signs that I talk about in a blog I wrote after the tragic passing of Keith Flint from The Prodigy. We are often blind to the signs because of our current relationship with the model, we need to be reconnecting with our fellow man and our environment. As as I’ve said before, I’m absolutely certain that the further we travel away from nature, the worse our physical and psychological health.
If you really want to affect a positive change, it doesn’t have to be a big grandiose gesture. Simply be kind to every single person you encounter and show them the respect that they deserve, perhaps the same level of respect that you would like to receive if you were in their shoes. Be kind, be generous with your time, give your fellow man, whether they be your friend or a stranger, some dignity by acknowledging their presence. Look them in the eye and do not be afraid of human contact, a smile and a gentle touch can sometimes disarm the fiercest of defences. If you do this, you will find a level of satisfaction, and hopefully peace, that you cannot attain through concentrating on self.
“Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the Weather.” ― Bill Hicks
Here’s an interesting question.. When was the last time you sat down, without distraction, and asked someone how they were? Were you reassured by their platitude, or did you probe further? Did you give them your undivided attention and REALLY listen?
Change to the collective starts with the individual, you first.
Dr Robert Stevens MBChB MRCGP Dip.FIPT