The reality is that we have lost ourselves a bit. We see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. These are our senses and in many ways we’ve outsourced them all and have become dependent on so much more than ourselves. If it’s not vaccines, then it’s technology for our education or social networks for our personal engagement. In short, we’ve outsourced what makes us unique. We’ve outsourced what makes us human.
Yes, we know too much and we don’t know anything. In other words, we have not used any discipline to gain knowledge. We lack the experiences of surviving the world on our own and we rely on the government or technology to pave our way. Clearly, a new level of discipline associated with learning and personal growth is in order.
We need to get back to tinkering with things to figure out this world for ourselves. Rather than take what someone did and simply add to it, we need to discover stuff on our own. I am lucky to work with a few clients who no longer wish to be indebted to the algorithm. They realize that there is an emptiness that comes from data and the digital addiction. In turn, they are interested in old fashioned focus groups, real discussions, and—wait for it—casual conversations with real live people.
Seemingly, having everything at your fingertips may seem really efficient. But I don’t necessarily need to know what “Princess What’sHerName” was thinking about last night or how “Mr. Pro Athlete” spends his time in the off-season. And I most certainly don’t need to live my life clinging to every political pull quote that some for-profit media organization deems news.
I want my life to be exactly that—mine. I don’t want us to lose anymore of ourselves. I don’t want my kids’ memories to be from some silly TikTok or YouTube video. I want them to be able to look people in the eyes and really listen. And I want the mystery back in our lives that makes us all a bit more interesting.
It’s a very dangerous time and I worry that there are not enough people standing up and questioning the cultural epidemic that was long at play before COVID. In fact, we may want to consider getting back to the basics. In sports, when a team struggles, a coach will sometimes say that they “need to get back to the basics.” They might feel that the team has gotten a little too fancy and has lost its competitive edge. So the coach takes a step back and simplifies the game plan.
We need to get back to the basics. We should rekindle the proper values and interpret the world without digital filters. We should read, write and pick our heads up and observe the world through clear eyes. We can even have our own real conversations as we take back our humanness and stop outsourcing our lives.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” — Teddy Roosevelt
Good ole Theodore had it right. The problem we face now is that we all seem to be outside of the arena. We all tend to be critical onlookers. But, we have the ability to view this as an opportunity to stop “knowing so much” and jump into the arena and get dirty through real, live experiences. This is a time to reconnect with your senses and stop allowing the digital narrative to define you.