Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement about a new parent company for Facebook and its siblings sent a shiver down my spine. The good news is that we have choices, and sitting atop that same spine — mine and yours — is the most phenomenal option for creating a future that is brilliant and thriving and deeply human.
The whole notion of a Meta-verse has me worried. It makes me concerned in the same way that I was uneasy when I first heard about the concept of “the brand of one” many years ago. Today, the quest for the perfected personal brand is a major contributor to self-esteem issues, the isolation epidemic, as well as mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
As with a “brand of one,” it seems to me that a Meta-verse ignores the basic human need for real connection with other human beings and with ourselves.
I live in two countries. I appreciate social media for keeping me in touch with a myriad of people, and I happily use it as a channel for sharing my ideas and growing my business. But I get into trouble whenever I lose the perspective that social media is a tool – not a way of life.
My study of the human condition, communication, and connection has taught me that technology and digital platforms can be wonderful assets, but they do not generate real meaning, vitality, and joy, which are at the essence of a fulfilled life. Time and again, I have found that there’s no replacement for cultivating self-awareness as the foundation for authentic communication and connection. It turns out that a thriving life is an inside job.
Still, we tend to spend an inordinate amount of time gazing outward by scrolling through our social feeds minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day.
We know that social media is intentionally addictive. (Thank you, Frances Haugen and the 12-step movement, for confirming that.). And that’s before it gets under our skin – literally.
Meta positions itself on the vanguard of “melding online, virtual and augmented worlds that people can seamlessly traverse,” says The New York Times. This sounds eerily like a step toward transhumanism, a journey on which Mr. Zuckerberg has already embarked by funding research for technologies that would “extend life” by “augmenting” the human body.
Transhumanism is defined by Oxford Languages as “the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology.”
That includes, among other things, video-recording sunglasses, chips under your skin to open doors and proffer computer passwords at the wave of a hand, and, as I learned in an article on Forbes, genetic pre-selection for “the most intelligent embryos.”
This all has massive moral implications, and it scares the pants off me to think that the drivers and levers for these kinds of developments are in the hands of so very few.
Which is why I think it’s utterly miraculous that there are some 7.7 billion others of us who have an even more powerful resource at our fingertips. Or, better said, housed in our cranial cavities.
We have amazing, bountiful, tremendous brains!
I’m not referring to the “metaphorical” brain which can often be translated as “intelligence.” I’m talking about our actual gray matter. And every single one of us has it.
Every single one of us has a beautiful brain.
But how much do we know about our brains and the power they have to connect us to ourselves and to each other?
Last week I watched the most uplifting, humanizing, and encouraging interview with Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor about our super-duper cerebrums.
Dr. Jill is a Harvard-trained neuroscientist who suffered a stroke and temporarily lost capacity in the left hemisphere of her brain. This tragedy transformed into a boon when she used it to study the different functions of the two halves of our brains. She’s well known for her 2008 TEDTalk.
In her most recent book, “Whole Brain Living,” Dr. Jill teaches us about four distinctive parts of our brains and how they influence our behaviors, our lives, and our futures – individually and collectively.
In illuminating these amazing aspects of our brains, Dr. Jill offers us some things that Meta doesn’t: real personal sovereignty, empowerment, and deep human connection.
We are not condemned to march blindly toward ubiquitous bio-technological adaptations. We have options.
Instead of continuing to look “out there” for a solution, why not start closer to home? Why not look “in here” for the miracles that can open worlds of possibility? Why not contemplate our inherent magnificence as a way to understand ourselves and others, to connect and collaborate, and to forge a way forward together? Why not love ourselves and our exquisite brains so that we can better love each other?
Perhaps we can start to do that by getting to know our own brains – and their boundless and untapped potential – just a little bit better.
By teaching me about my bean and how it works, Dr. Jill helps me understand why I think and feel the way I do. She gives me a whole new level of insight into my marvelous melon, which helps me communicate more authentically and relate more deeply with everyone else I meet along the way.
And Dr. Jill points me toward hope. She says, “We have the power to choose who and how we want to be in the world each and every moment, regardless of what external circumstances we find ourselves in.”
And that, my friends, is more meta than Meta.
I’m not closing any of my Meta accounts – for now – but I am taking a stand for human dignity and the need for real, eye-to-eye, knee-to-knee, heart-to-heart connection with ourselves and others. I am fervently convinced that this means loving myself – all of myself – and continuing to learn all that I can about the gift of being human.
As I deepen my awareness about myself, including my magnificent brain, countless possibilities open for how can I do the vitally important work of connecting with you. After all, for all of us, the way forward is through, and the way through is together.
Perhaps you’ll join me on this journey. I’d really like that a lot. No emoji (or microchip) needed.
Here you'll find some of my thoughts about communication, contemplation, yoga, life and various other topics. Thanks for giving them a read.