Freedom Underworld

A field journal on the contrasting choices in technology

As we actively look through the glass screens of our mobile devices, these little gadgets carry more and more of our lives.

Each screen seems to be far away from what we consider tangible, as if everything digital belonged to the realm of the imagination.

These screens, however, even when floating in the technological cloud, are becoming an essential part of our lives.

They can be the keepers of memories & identity,

The builders of creativity,

The connectors to our family and friends,

The discoverers of new information,

The doors to our money,

The guardians of our health,

The organizers of our time,

The builders of mindfulness...

Generations no longer know what it was like before social media. Our lives have always been social, but what we do when the tools to connect are right at our fingertips can be an authentic creative expression or be primarily based on attention-getting. The latter can lead to an illusory metric of self-worth.

Creativity abounds on social media, it follows different patterns, like seeing the people we know modeling and curating their lifestyles, or being authoritative and accomplished. When we know them in person, we may notice how they have adapted to branding patterns dependent on the likes and comments to determine their self-worth. On the viewer's side, feeds may not be taken as learning or connecting opportunities, instead viewer's eyes hone in as if looking at trophies to imitate and compete toward.

The signals point to attention-getting as being a valuable skillset, looking at metrics to generate similar content to the highest performing posts becomes a practice, and getting an influencer's like becomes a reinforcement of their goals. Attention is key.

Short bursts of surface level information and quick emotional reactions abound, leaving less possibility for longer conversations and building niche audiences. Click-bait headlines are read and taken as truth, but not clicked-through. Heavy tilting to one side of an argument, without seeing the complexity of each situation or reading into sarcasm, leads to divisions.

All of these markers can distort our reality and generate the feeling of a marketing and branding competition with the empty goal of reaching the "masses" and becoming an "influencer." Creating content with the priority of generating attention, means being dependent on others to judge you, and just like one day popularity is flooding, another, cancel culture can be setting in. Often, people's self-confidence ebbs and flows based on these signals, or their lack.

Human identity is so much deeper and complex than what we sometimes experience online. It should be independent of attention and judgement. Being exhalted or put down shouldn't break the balance within, and when it does, it should be a moment to reflect and get back to the center. It should not lean toward what is likely to get approval nor should it be silenced by what is likely to be rejected. It should reflect us.

Imperfection makes us human, to focus on perfection and attention online, feels like when someone goes out on a few dates and pretends to be someone they are not. They may meet someone who is a pretender like them, but they'd be missing out on the one who loves them for who they are.

Click, click through terms and conditions without reading them, click to close another cookie pop up, log in or create an account, otherwise be kept out.

Having access to information at the touch of our fingertips is a form of freedom. We feel connected, within reach. However, this freedom is not as resilient or as real as it should be.

Bells are ringing and it's not Christmas. Full inboxes, DMs, mentions, ads, notifications... Our way of life is changing. So much activity and information can distort our sense of time, as if it was no longer moving at the same speed.

Time feels fast and fleeting, requiring immediate action. Piles of content means shorter attention spans, and FOMO can take residence, but only if we allow it.

Technology's ephemeral qualities make it hard to imagine the negative consequences to what we are giving up, what we are allowing others to take from our readers or customers, or that technology could be used against us.

If we don't allow ourselves the opportunity to slow down and be mindful of our choices, we can fall for the marketing of what is easy and popular, rather than looking deeper at the substance with which products are built, or how they may best fit our lives.