On Social Pollution, Decontamination, & The Political Nature of Slowing Down To Think


Reprinting today's Twitter thread. 

1) Starting a thread to share some thoughts on social pollution, decontamination and the political nature of slowing down to think.

2) "Social pollution" is NOT used here in the partisan political sense, e.g. detecting right-wing opinions. (You can read all about that here in a 2014 column by now-FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.)

3) "Social pollution" IS used here to mean the deliberate flooding of the population with mental stimuli.

4) Related: When you yell at someone, it stimulates an anxiety response and paradoxically they can no longer think.

5) Related: When you flood the body with processed food ("junk food") you are basically throwing a lot of toxins at it. They're addictive, they take time to eliminate, and you get withdrawal symptoms when you try.

6) We are addicted to social pollution. "Facebook Was Designed To Be Addictive."

7) Let me add that I care nothing about sports or the Olympics.

8) In any case, part of social pollution is this frantic rush to take in information -- you are now REQUIRED to "keep up. " Of course if you CANNOT POSSIBLY do so, then you feel "inadequate" and your self-esteem suffers -- further addicting you to the noise.2 likes

9) It is as though we are all rats on a treadmill, running, running, running, running, running, running, running, running, running, running, running, running. And if we stop running, running, running, running, running, running, running, running, running, running, running...

10) ...if we stop running on the treadmill we get "dinged" by Facebook. "Hey you there," they say. "Remember when you shared THIS?"

11) You get beeps and reminders and emails and texts and promo codes and all that marketing jazz, and with every one your body lights up. "A message!"

12) This treadmill-running translates into the workplace. What percentage of your day do you spend on email? 30%? How about IMs, texts, phone calls? What happens if you don't answer right away?

13) Our minds are so full of unnecessary noise.

14) The noise is not just unnecessary. It is harmful. Do we really need so many "technology updates?" Computers, phones, software? Accessories? Do we need to constantly buy things? "Well what else should we do?"

15) Amid all of this pollution created by the society in which we live ("social pollution,") it becomes literally impossible to slow down and reflect unless we do something deliberate to make that happen.

16) "Recharj," which is a "Modern Mediation And Nap Studio," appeared on “Shark Tank” and I immediately loved this business, which is actually the exact same thing as visiting my grandparents (may they rest in peace) before we had so much social pollution.

17) I remember visiting them so well. Amid a childhood mostly lost to my memories, I can feel and smell and touch and taste the broken country sidewalks and the roads without any street signs.

18) I remember walking with absolutely zero adult supervision, with no Google Maps to guide me, for hours and hours at a time.

19) There was a time I didn't need to have White Noise playing in my earbuds. It was quiet outside.

‏20) Even until the late 1990s, even in New York City, it was possible to have some quiet.

‏21) There was a time when I used to write papers for school using old-fashioned books (you know, the printed and bound kind) from an old-fashioned library (one that contained actual books) that had an actual wooden card catalog.

22) At the University of Maryland Library they have a cafe that has a card catalog and the card catalog holds Splenda.

23) I remember when I was little and had time to Think Great Thoughts.

24) And I also remember when we would get together on Shabbos (Sabbath) and have real and actual conversations that did not feature people looking under the surface of the table to check their email.

25) I met someone the other day to go over a project and the person had no less than 25,000 windows open on their computer and 50,000 things on the desktop and insisted that their email be open THE ENTIRE TIME because "something might happen."

26) The level of stimulation is so toxic to our bodies that it has produced "attention deficit disorder," now considered an actual medical illness for which people take mind-altering medication.

27) The level of stimulation is so toxic to our bodies, which are, yes, related to our minds that nearly 1 in 5 Americans -- 40,000,000 has "anxiety disorder." And that's DIAGNOSED -- it doesn't count the "normal" anxiety that most of us feel every day.

28) The polite term for "social pollution," of course, is "information overload."

29) But a neutral term like "information overload" disguises the fact that it is absolutely intentional. Producers of information deliberately seek to sway public opinion through repeated and massive exposure to their particular messaging.

30) It goes without saying that political figures must master the art of persuasive rhetoric in order to win votes, and so they will most definitely do whatever they can to extensively infiltrate the human mind, qualitatively and quantitatively.

31) It goes without saying that people with hidden agendas -- basically, political figures who are not overtly seeking political office -- are going to try and flood the public with information to have their way. This is just common sense.

32) In an environment where social pollution (a tactic as old as time, but technology has made it ever the toxic) is rampant, it is an act of rebellion to physically and mentally decontaminate oneself.

33) Others have shared so many good ideas here on Twitter over the past day, as we have talked about this subject. But really, all you have to do is imagine that you're doing a thorough housecleaning of the mind.

34) So many times, I've thought about meditating and decided that I don't have time to do it. Never realizing that meditating is an act of freedom.

35) Here's a funny thing that happens when you think about slowing down: You see all the ways that your free will has been taken away through what MUST be deliberate, if "subconscious," information overload.

36) What happens when you use public wi-fi? You get the Terms of Service.

37) How many people actually read the Terms of Service? Or are we so FRANTIC TO GET ONLINE that we just say "Yes, I Accept." What choice do we have, anyway?



38) How many people have actually read a proposed piece of legislation carefully? No time, right? You read about it on the news, or maybe you don't really follow this stuff at all. IT'S A LAW - IT AFFECTS YOUR LIFE!

39) I could go on and on. But the fastest way to screw somebody over, really, is to tell them, overtly or covertly, to "just hurry up and sign." And then they've signed it!

40) There is no value in a population that is not allowed to think. They are, effectively, a robot army.

41) And I have found that usually, when I slow down and actually read something very carefully, listen attentively, or even watch a video closely, it is NOT ONLY enjoyable BUT ALSO so much nuanced than I originally thought.

42) You see this all the time with children who are out with their caregivers for the day. The child is tugging on the caregiver's arm, and the caregiver is vacantly responding, but really their eyes are in their phone.

43) What does it do to a child's capacity to pay close attention, to slow down and listen, when they have never had the experience of empathy?

44) What does it do to the child's ability to reason, and contribute, and develop a unique perspective on the world, when "schooling" means they are RUSHED to GAME a well-screened and politically corrected standardized test?

‏45) Maybe the people who DON'T send their kids to school and DON'T let them use iPhones are right.

46) Maybe people are right when they decide to live "off the grid."

47) I know this. We have lost something very dear to us, something very political, and it is something I most definitely had as a child.

48) We are, collectively, socially diseased.

‏49) We must recover our freedom.

‏50) Absent our freedom, no matter what laws they pass, no President or Congress can give us a better life.

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Copyright 2017 by Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Creative Commons (CC0) image via Pixabay.