Steven Vedro has written an Part II of a series entitled “Living in the Infosphere” for Reality Sandwich that tries to untangle the meaning of the “Web” with its intricate modes of communication and multiple information ports on the Internet; aptly renamed the “infosphere.” In surrealistic and philosophic fashion he helps us understand what the spirituality of the Internet means for us. Yes, that’s right, the spirituality of the Internet. All entities, worlds, and cosmos are imbued with spirituality don’t you think? Whether we project a spirituality into it or one evolves naturally and surrounds us with itself is the question of the day, but he definitely senses the forces at work in the interconnections between human beings interacting with all those bits of information and the results that are evident because of it.
Vedro believes a radical shift in our way of thinking is taking place, evident, I think, recently in the historic turn of events in this country. Vedro calls such radical turns of events “second tier thinking.” There have been many who predicted humanity’s movement into a “second age” or “new age” and the predictions come like clockwork, but there is a particular truth that Vedro points out that I find striking and it’s the way we use the Internet to communicate with our fellow planetary travelers. The Internet challenges us to open ourselves to receive information at all times. The Internet never closes, so to speak, therefore, we also never “close.” We allow bits and pieces of all sorts of information to come and go through our neural processes at all hours of the day or night. We exchange those bits with others and it becomes a ceaseless circle of exchange. There are many bits that are welcome and good to invite in, but Vedro points out in this quote that we also come into contact with some unwanted elements he calls:
the unpleasant truths of humankind. Because it cannot effectively be censored, it forces us to ask the hard question of “what is the truth when everyone can speak?” It drags us into hard places, exposes us to situations where we must make our own values clear and public, forcing us to examine and defend our own core beliefs. Our inability to know if the person in the chat room is really who they say they are, our fears of fraud and identity theft whenever we enter personal data online, and our being deluged with false spammed messages all reflect our trickster self run amok.
What Vedro says is true. Someone close to me pointed out that we should always accept our core beliefs being challenged and not cringe from it. How else are we to grow if we don’t? Dragging ourselves into the “hard places” is what makes us think for ourselves. Vedro would agree, however, he likens our defenses against such unclear information to a warrior’s shield. Using the Warrior archetype (never mind that some women and men might choose another archetype for boundary protection), Vedro challenges how we use metaphorically the warrior’s shield as a protective device against the infosphere while we try to navigate it at the same time:
The Warrior’s shield can be painted with many designs, projecting different identities out into the networked world. Safe behind our aliases and proxies, we now have the freedom to reclaim the power of our voice — whether by text, video or podcast. One can download personal ringtones that announce to the world your “tribe of the moment.” One can practice playing with the shields of persona, trying on different identities, exploring in Sherri Turkel’s words, one’s “inner diversity.”
On the other hand, sometimes throwing down the shield is the biggest high: requesting in the act of blogging exposure, a validation of one’s existence, telling the world, in Emily Gould’s words, “all my secrets [so that] you won’t have any ammo against me that I haven’t given you.”
Blogging exposure struck me as phrase that explains what it is that we all try to do out here in the infosphere, especially those bloggers who try to process the vast amounts of information available and ask, “Yes, but what does this mean for me?” There’s really no reason to be out here projecting ourselves onto the world unless that is our primary motive. I mean, besides the obvious profit motive which drives a myriad of others to be out here, what is it that drives the rest of us? Some want to convince us of ideology, but overall we are all “selling” ideas and trading the commodity of information. But for what? If we aren’t running “the restaurant at the end of the universe” for profit, then why do we set up our little info booths and like Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip, hope that others stop by and ask our advice?
Over at Ephemeral Thoughts, my friend points us to a significant quote by a blogger named John. This quote struck me as a good reason why most of us sit ourselves metaphorically down and blog daily. John believe that it is our participation in the co-creative processes of God, or whatever you name your spirituality these day. He writes:
Perhaps it is not a question of either/or, but of both, and that a cosmic philosophy that integrates both the transcendent and immanent has not really been given a fair hearing yet?
Perhaps we have failed to grasp that our daily toil and struggle in issues of righteousness in our daily lives is our participation and co-creative contribution (or lack thereof) to the realization of the transcendent divinity goals of eternity within time and space? Perhaps we have failed to realize that the transcendent Deity/God as Creator has made a way, the “evolutionary idea,” by which the creature can co-create experiential deity within the evolving universes on the levels of matter, mind, and spirit; or that God is not only the source of that which is but that which will be, of that which is actual as well as that which is potential, and that within these projected divinity ideals God has made a way for you and I to respond to the divine call and contribute through free will choice in the actualization of these very divinity ideals. (Shuck and Jive: The Meaning of Life.)
“Integrating the transcendent and the immanent.” Yes, that’s it. Some of us have stopped struggling daily with “issues of righteousness,” electing instead to struggle directly with life itself, rather than mere ideas about life. We are forming direct bonds with those who help us live lives full of love, compassion, and justice, but most of all love. But John has a point about seeing ourselves as co-creators in an evolving universe rather than what I see most ideologues are out here doing; being watchdogs and purveyors of the moral order. In John’s view we are go-betweens for the transcendent and the immanent. Seeing our lives in this way and applying it the evolving infosphere is far more helpful in my opinion than hoping to change a few minds about our ideologies or politics. How about we become the priestesses or shamans if you will that help others transition to a more open and accepting existence? Forget the spiritual and mystical for a moment and simply see yourself as one who offers love rather than its opposite. Love moves things along. Hatred never does.
Stephen Vedro writes in similar terms and defines the Warrior’s purpose as a healing presence against the Shadow Warrior:
There are many web behaviors that reflect the Shadow Warrior (who is really the Savage): angry words and flames, scattershot spam, trolls intent on destroying not only the false shield of persona, but the entire being behind it, violent games, hate speech and hateful religion. The true Warrior metaphor however, is now manifesting in the return of groundedness to the web.
This “groundedness” is what both men are talking about really and what drew me to both the article and the quote. One uses “God” terms and the other uses archetypal metaphors, but they are really speaking about the same thing; staying grounded in an ever and far too rapidly changing universe. Without it, we are really at the whims of all those who are bent on destroying the processes that evolve us into the next millennium. Are we going to cling to old ways and behavior because they are familiar and give us a false grounding; one without legitimate reasons or one that simply maintains someone else’s vision of a “stable” society” or are we willing to step out there and act from better intentions than that? And unless we face our own Shadow Warrior; one bent on destroying all that is worth living for simply because it has the power to, there will be a vast disintegration ahead of us and a true intellectual and spiritual apocalypse. I hope I’m standing on the side of love when that happens.