- Mohamad Kalaaji
I’ve mentioned in the past that I will be taking breaks out of social media, I wouldn’t last more than 15 days but now I’ve decided to take this break for a long run.
I’ll start by writing the blog updates, then talk about the new journey that I am going to undergo, then mention why I am taking a break out of social media.
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Journey towards Transcendence
To make it clear here, Transcendence has two meanings: Spiritual and Psychological. We’ll focus on the psychological part since this is the part that needs work on, whereas the spiritual part is covered.
Transcendence is the realization that you are one small part of a greater whole, and acting accordingly. On a spiritual level, it means that you believe that God is above and beyond anything that exist in this world, no human can rival or claim to be of higher or similar level.
Transcendence on a psychological level is going towards a new level of development, it is the neglecting younger sibling of Actualization. I’ll use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to prove why it is vital.
For many years, Self-actualization dominated Maslow’s hierarchy, it is on the top of the hierarchy where below of it are esteem, love/belonging, safety, then physiological needs. Physiological needs are the bottom to prove how important it is for survival and the first step towards actualization and fulfillment. Maslow considered self-actualization the pinnacle of human development and the highest human need, it is the realization of one’s full potential. (In other words, you realize yourself when you are capable of finding out your true potential or the things that you excel at)
Self-actualization is indeed a goal worth development but self-transcendence is the next level. It is other-focused instead of self-focused and concerns higher goals than those which are self-serving.
Self-transcendence means transcending or expanding the individual self, meaning going beyond your own identity and understanding that you’re a small part of something bigger. The main reason that it is a difficult goal that requires hard work, due to the fact that you focus on others rather than yourself.
The journey starts by documenting my path in achieving this state, this is done by serving a purpose worth fighting for and ensure that others are benefitting from it.
Only to the extent that someone is living out this self transcendence of human existence, is he truly human or does he become his true self. He becomes so, not by concerning himself with his self-s actualization, but by forgetting himself and giving himself, overlooking himself and focusing outward - Viktor Frankl, Man's search for meaning
I have decided to decrease my online consumption to focus on the things that matter to me. Upon reading my reflections on my journals, I realized that social media played a huge role in my life where I have wasted a good amount doing nothing at all.
There were days that I didn’t do a single task or learn anything useful, loafing at home doing nothing but scroll on social media after work.
I realized that something off here and I want to address this issue.
Here is my verdict towards social media in general:
I am not quitting all the sudden like that
The reason I can’t quit and move on is because there are benefits from social media, as in helping people in need.
I have received many messages from people asking for help on Facebook, Twitter, even Reddit. My posts and comments have shown its effects to help others and made them pass the obstacles they were facing, I can’t stop like that.
A week ago from writing this blogpost, I got messaged by an 18 year old on Reddit who finished school and entering community college, he asked me how to start web development and what are the steps to get started. Like that, I felt this sense of appreciation and pride that my hard work paid off.
This is not a dopamine fast
I have seen a lot of people online talk about doing a dopamine fast where they decrease their social media consumption to the absolute minimum for 30-40 days. The issue with this method that it is easy to relapse back to your old habits of scrolling through social media all day long because you give yourself permission to go back after that period.
The goal is to never get near to it as much as possible, there are other things in life that are more important than those platforms.
Infinite Dopamine pools
The constant hit of likes and notifications trigger our mind to release dopamine. We feel good for a short period, then we crave it more because we liked that good feeling that rushed into our minds, similarly to how a smoker feels towards cigarettes. The action itself can be harmful and we know about its effect yet that good feeling always want us to go back to it.
The more notifications we get and the more likes we receive from posts and comments gives us a sense of prove that we are doing the right thing online, we are accepted as who we are, we are approved by this online tribe, more dopamine shots to our minds.
This never ending cycle is what called an “Infinite Dopamine Pool” (or “Infinite Pool” for short) since we can produce infinite amount of content and social media can show us infinite amount of content.
Tribalism at its finest
We feel special, we feel thought of by society, we feel that we are accepted and rightfully belong to this big online tribe that social media has created for us.
Yet again, we are lonely and friendless. How’s that? I have met people who have five thousand friends on Facebook yet no true friends.
The issue is that we can be who we want online, we can create a persona way different from who we are because we fear people judging our true selves, we create a character that fits perfectly in this online tribe not to be exiled.
The moment we try to be real with people then get rejected for being ourselves, we create walls to protect ourselves and push that persona even more as a coping mechanism from being depressed. The more we get rejected, the higher the walls will become.
Deep inside, we don’t accept who we are unless we get approval from others and since our self is not approved of, we have to either get exiled from this big tribe or change ourselves to fit in.
Not everything you see online has to be real
I have mentioned in a previous blogpost that social media gives a voice to anyone on it, yet not all voices should be heard. You can drop fake information online and someone out of nowhere will accept what you are saying with the least amount of checking.
The problem is that there is always a group of people who will accept and agree on what you say without checking at all. To them, it is a way to get back into the tribe if they were shunned out or reach to a higher position in the tribe’s hierarchy.
Even if they acknowledge that it is not right but if a group of people are doing it then they will have this feeling of missing out on an opportunity to shine in this tribe.
The online toxicity
Lately, all social media platforms have turned to toxic environments. People ranting about anything that comes in front of them and shaming people for almost anything to make themselves look superior, powerful, or edgy.
As I mentioned before that people will believe anything they see online then they will fight anyone who proves them wrong. People hate to be proven wrong on social media since the evidence of their actions and mistakes will be marked online forever.
If this person you are arguing with has a good amount of followers then they will be used as a pressure point to take you down. They will create fake news about you and cyber bully you to undermine and make you look weak online.
Let us say that things are going as intended in your life like you made a successful business or you have a wonderful family, people will start hating on you. You will be called out as fake, create fake allegations that your business is a fraud, create false information that you are having affairs against your marriage, and many more.
The problem is that not everyone wishes the best for the people around them. To them, life is unfair since they never got what they wanted. They will undermine successful people in society as a ‘getting even’ method rather than working on themselves to become better in life.
Human spam and trolls
There is always that one person who claims: “I love to do [subject], but I don’t like to practice it”. It is evident that you could write that person off. As everyone knows, if you want to be [doer of subject/ profession], you have to practice it.
I call these people human spam. They’re everywhere, and they exist in every profession. They don’t want to pay their dues, they want their piece right here, right now. They don’t want to listen to your ideas; they want to tell you theirs. They don’t want to go to shows, but they thrust flyers at you on the sidewalk and scream at you to come to theirs.
You should feel pity for these people and their delusions. At a certain point, they didn’t get the memo that the world owes none of us anything.
The world becomes all about them and their work. They can’t find the time to be interested in anything other than themselves.
This gets worse when you are dealing with a troll, and those people come out of nowhere and popup in unexpected place.
A troll is a person who isn’t interested in improving your work, provoking you with hateful, aggressive, or upsetting talk. You will gain nothing by engaging with these people. Don’t feed them, and they’ll go away.
The rise of fake influencers and fake gurus
I want to be clear in this section that I am not targeting someone specific, this is my two cents on the whole situation. There are legit influencers and gurus who are helping the community achieve certain milestones but I am mentioning the bad apples from the good ones here.
All the sudden you start seeing those influencers on Instagram pop out of nowhere posting life tips, advice on how to get rich quick with drop shipping/stocks or forex day trading/selling useless courses, advice on how to quit your 9 to 5 job along with becoming your own boss, and how to become famous online.
Everybody wants to get rich quick, everyone wants to escape the rat race, everyone wants to become their own boss, and everyone wants to become famous online, what do you do? Sell courses on how to achieve this.
Just because it worked out for certain people, it doesn’t mean that it will workout for everyone. But people want to get rich without doing any effort, the ones who are making the money are the people who are doing these tricks and selling you those services by click funneling and upselling you to buy things that it will never work.
Try telling them that the only way to get rich requires hard work, loads amount of time, a realistic product or service, and those courses are a scam and they won’t work, you will be cyber bullied by their loyal fans in a matter of minutes. Try asking for the numbers, high chance either you will get fake numbers or no response at all.
There is a lot of things to do in life
The world is a vast yet beautiful place, it has a lot things you can do. Activities like going out bungie jumping or hiking, reading, writing, traveling (although the covid situation made it hard but in the future), meet interesting people, try foreign foods and drinks, and many more.
You don’t get to this online, life is not bound to a screen. I work the majority of my time in front of a screen, I return back home to check social media on my phone till bed time then the cycle repeats itself.
I realized that this life is not worth living for. I can do much more than that, I started to read and write on a daily basis. It is odd for someone who work in the technical world telling you to decrease your screen time to the absolute minimum, like I use a physical notebook as a planner to write my tasks for the day because I know if I used an app to schedule my tasks for the day, I will start doing things that I shouldn’t be doing like searching on Google “Why the toilet flushes in the opposite direction in Australia” (no jokes search for it, this is something real and debated about but you should be doing in your free time).
You can be you without changing or approval from others
It took me a long time to realize that I don’t need the approval of others to fit in, because I was going after the wrong community.
I realized that there are other communities that accepted me for who I am, I can be this weird geek who has a daily journal in his bag along with books and a bunch of fountain pens to write with.
A good example is Reddit (ironically mentioning a social media platform to this example) but it has subreddits that serve one purpose, they are the future Facebook groups or Facebook groups 2.0
Like I am subscribed to /r/fountainpens, /r/books, and /r/journaling on reddit, I am accepted in each of those communities and I don’t need to think twice on changing myself at all.
Low key we all want to do the things we want to do yet fear how society will interpret this action.