I settled on the four words above as a prescription, of sorts, for our times. Why? Because we are threatened, as never before, with a loss of our authentic selves, along with incentives to remain passive and ineffective as individuals. The combination is a perfect storm that can dissolve the self and pave the way for inhuman and carnivorous entities—like the state and big tech—to control everything and everyone.
The first half of this prescription for our times is Stop Acting. That isn’t easy in a world increasingly dominated by fake-happy posts on Facebook, fake friends on Facebook, poor excuses for chatting on Snapchat, overly dramatic posts on Instagram, false background images on Zoom and a host of other tech “tools” that actually are nothing other than ways of taking away our true selves.
Actors and kids during Halloween and bank robbers wear masks. The fact that half the world is doing it now is a really bad sign.
–Dr. Keith Ablow
Marshall McLuhan, the famous philosopher and author of Understanding Media, put it this way, “The medium is the message.” When you relate to people through the same 2-D portal (a screen) that carries entertainment, it is that medium that dominates the message—not you. You may be a very compelling person, but if your message to another human being comes via a MacBook Pro, you aren’t going to be able to overcome that fact. You’re pixelated and contained in a rectangular glowing surface, whether you like it or not. You aren’t truly human, in every sense of the word. You are, in fact, dehumanized, to an extent.
This makes it extremely important to at least try to be as authentic as possible when using technology to communicate. It also makes it important to resist the little tricks of the trade, like virtual backgrounds, that only compound the problem. It also makes it important to not confine one’s communications or connections with others to the confines of a monitor, even in the face of Covid—a pandemic which has also robbed people of their faces, by virtue of mask mandates.
Action becomes the cure for what ails us.
— Dr. Keith Ablow
Actors and kids during Halloween and bank robbers wear masks. The fact that half the world is now doing it is a really bad sign (because the masks aren’t proven to work to stop Covid, but I promise you they work to stop genuine, authentic, close human connections and communication).
The second half of the prescription is Take Action. And that’s because action is the antidote to acting, anonymity and dehumanization. When we act from our core—saying what we think, standing up for what we believe and doing what we believe really matters, we reassert our autonomy and individuality. We flex our muscles as human beings and resist all the forces that have gathered at this moment in history to turn us into fake news, false drama and nothing more.
Action becomes the cure for what ails us, along with thinking deeply, getting outside, using our muscles to walk and breathe deeply, meditating, loving what is real, for real and being centered.
Keep my prescription in mind as the world tries to take you away from you, tries to take you away from others and tries to deliver you in pixelated, data-driven algorithms to faceless entities like Facebook that profit from putting you in a blender and reducing you to clicks and dollars.
Dr. Keith Ablow
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