Becoming Too Much Mind

Losing the body


The mind-body dichotomy has been a big thing in philosophy for the last 2000 years or so since Plato and Aristotle, and probably will be so forever till some ultra super brain imaging system explains the brain, mind, and consciousness to us in any real way.

However, that is not the topic at hand here at all. In fact, Descartes, one of the biggies of the mind-body problem is only on my to-do list and sitting downloaded in the philosophize this podcast. The philosophical discourse about the mind-body problem is not the agenda here.

The topic here is connecting the dots between the hyper-growth of technology and our dependence on it for communication, entertainment, and work. The argument I want to try to make is we’re all turning more into just mind and disconnecting from the body.

Take the interconnection of texting and dating for instance, with the amazing growth of tinders and bumbles. Everybody actually is on these apps now and interacting with people without really interacting with anyone. The book iGen made an interesting point about how for thousands of years we humans only interacted with our sexual interests, friends and ..duh..anyone by being right there next to them, speaking to their face with eye contact, facial expressions, voice tonality, and the whole enchilada. Everybody parrots the “80% communication is body language” line even today and yet here we are witnessing this huge shift towards communicating with no body.

What exactly happens when we do this for generations and the next generations practically grow up only looking at this and probably almost never ever bothering with actual in-person communication.

The same book also has very interesting stats on how the generation iGEN born around 1995 already shows a huge preference for digital communication mainly texting, snap chatting and even phone calls are almost extinct. Interestingly this also is the generation that has brought up demands for safe-spaces and defines “harm” as both physical and emotional — to the extent that when met with opposing viewpoints they need a time-out to actually cry and go sit in a room declared as a safe-space. The emotional (mind) is becoming as important as the physical (body).

We will come back to this, but let’s add the other mediums which seem to be completely keeping us locked in our minds now — music, podcasts, Netflix, e-commerce, social media, food ordering, gaming.

Maybe music has always been around but no doubt that with smartphones so cheap and with options to stream infinite music from the cloud, it just feels everyone on the road is just locked into it. Gone are the days when you could only walk around with favorite 10 songs. Podcasting, I learnt just yesterday has gone from 17% to 78% in USA in a few years. The power of Netflix, Amazon, social media and gaming is very well known and needs no elaboration, but interestingly something as simple as ordering food now is through an interface and doesn’t require a single phone call or human interaction.

When I say “becoming mind” the point I want to get across is all these activities simply need thinking and thoughts and don’t really require anything much, least of all is any human interaction. Take texting for e.g. if you think of it from a slight sci-fi angle you are practically just transferring thoughts from your mind to the other person’s mind through a medium of waves and not your body unlike as in speech, eye contact or anything.

This is extremely efficient and perhaps easy but you take away so much nuance of communication like voice, tone, etc.

Think of crucial interactions like asking someone out or complimenting their pictures when the person is right in front of you versus doing it over Instagram or facebook with a button tap. I can almost argue you are practically just thinking these things and doing them without putting any effort into the “how” to articulate them again using tools like tone, body language, etc.

We have had TV around for years now but that was just tempered with the logistical constraints such as fixed times for programs etc, so it was harder to just get extremely locked into that! Now we have the cloud which is always on and serving us Netflix, and so you can binge — 10hrs 10 episodes, which was simply not possible with TV so isn’t that you just sitting still and running the plot, thinking the plot, identifying with the characters with just your mind, are you not training yourself to just think think think for 10hrs straight and not move?

In fact, it’s so easy to live vicariously through these characters with such binge-watching, I did it with hank moody, others swear by the don draper guy. You watch an interaction of hank moody being smooth with the women on screen and extrapolate that real life would be so too, then you are the club and the cutie gal shows up at the bar to get a drink, you want to say something about her jacket maybe but something in you doesn’t co-operate, or I should argue the outer you, the physical you doesn’t co-operate because it has never done this before, only the inner you did it, only the mind did it. You are simply not in sync.

You would know your sync issue if you can be self-aware about it but then Susan comes along on youtube and hands over her book —”Quiet-The Power of Introverts in a world. .blah blah..” to you and just because no one wants to be the weaker one, you wear the label almost immediately and with pride: “INTROVERT” you declare yourself to be, first to yourself and then to the world. And you can always quote Susan on how Obama is one too. However, you leave it out that he speaks to billions of people from stage and you don’t can’t, your lack of self-awareness just doesn’t let you register that.

Kind of a digression but let’s get back.

The iGen can again serve as our lab rats. This new generation is so drowning into non-in-person communication now that the realm of the mind has now taken over the realm of the body. Hence their wild cries of “you can’t say that” when met with opposing views. The crisis is so deep that the first amendment is at risk now because protecting people from emotional harm is just as important as any other.

On stretching this further, one can become so locked up in the mind that the body just loses any relevance and very soon you find yourself in a society where genders just change when the person simply feels it has. Like I have already repeated many times by now the mind is becoming more important than the body.

When all your time is locked up in your mind, is it possible that you just think your thoughts are the only what matters? How else do we justify this sudden shift where people are going to the extent to claim multiple genders? Trying very hard to steer clear of the politics here and focus only on how it just looks like people are putting so much value over their mind, feelings, thoughts, these intangible assets of consciousness that when physical reality gets in the way, violence breaks out.

to be continued..

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