The darkness beneath the surface

Reading through Sean Parker’s essay, I’m thinking about what it is that’s happening to media. Clearly the fact that anyone who wants to now has a voice online is something that can be a force for good, but also something that’s unleashed a lot of nastiness an meanness. Just look at comments on YouTube!

Here’s the thing.We all have a bunch of nasty thoughts and feelings inside.

We’ve been hurt. Badly. By people we trusted. It was painful. At the time, we didn’t know how to deal with it. We weren’t allowed to express it. We depended on the very people who betrayed us for our survival and so we knew better than to react. Whatever the reason, we buried those feelings somewhere deep inside. But feelings that aren’t felt never die. They stay with us. And now when something similar happens, that brings up that old pain, and we erupt with anger over having been betrayed.

Even more so, the one(s) who betrayed us wasn’t really who we think it was. It was ourselves. We were the ones who betrayed ourselves by not allowing ourselves to feel and respond. Of course, we didn’t have the consciousness to do any different then. But we do now. And we keep the pattern going. So the anger is really directed at ourselves, but we feel like it’s directed towards others. That’s projection at work.

We have all these contradictory and scary things that we have inside of us, that we’re not allowing ourselves to be. Angry. Brilliant. Racist. Happy. Greedy. Loving. Vulgar. Trusting. Insecure. Powerful. Ugly. Sexy. Untrustworthy. Vulnerable. Lying. Beautiful. Depressed. Inspiring. Gloating. Self-loving. Whatever it is. And when we see others who are those things we won’t allow ourselves to be, we get angry. With them. But really, with ourselves, for not allowing ourselves to be that. Because we are, we just don’t want to admit it. And so instead we make ourselves wrong and project our anger onto those who point it out by having that same self-imposed limit in their lives.

All of this unrecognized emotion lives in the unconscious mind of us all. No-one is immune. And when given the right opportunity, it comes out. Whether we want it to or not. It’s unconscious, and our unconscious mind is a million times more powerful than the conscious mind, and we can’t keep a lid on it forever, so sooner or later it’s going to erupt. Debbie Ford had the metaphor of the beach ball. If you try to keep a beach ball under water, eventually it’s going to slip and bounce right up in your face.

I remember in high school when I was doing a paper on an ultra-nationalist association in Denmark, called “The Danish Association” (Den Danske Forening). They were very anti-immigration and warned against islam getting a foothold in Denmark. I attended one of their meetings in order to get a closer look. What struck me about the experience was how everything being said from the podium was entirely sensible and sound. You could disagree with them on what you would like the country of Denmark to be, but there was nothing particularly controversial or unreasonable coming out of the mouthes of the leaders.

But the audience was a different story. Many of the people who took to the mic stood up to speak were talking nasty racist smack. And it clearly made the official spokespeople uncomfortable, and they tried to cut them off.

Now, one interpretation is that the leaders themselves agreed and they wanted to put a pretty face onto ugly politics. Another is that no matter what you do, whether you want to or not, whether you know that’s what you’re doing or not, you’re going to appeal to people’s deepest, darkest emotions. If you’re anti-immigration, you’re going to appeal to racists. If you’re a social-democrat, you’re going to appeal to feelings of victimization, vilification of the rich, and resistance to taking responsibility for their lives. If you want the votes, the support, that’s what you have to do one way or another. If you don’t, someone else will.

The feelings are there, waiting for someone to tap into them.

And that’s the point.

The feelings are there already.

What online media does is it lowers the barrier, it lifts the filter somewhat. It doesn’t eliminate it, it just makes the filter more coarse, so more of the dark side can seep through.

Trying to filter the dark side, trying to keep it out of sight, isn’t the solution. It’s much better acknowledge the feelings than to try and deny them. At least then we can do something about them. The feelings themselves aren’t wrong, only we way we deal with them.

But identifying with the feelings and expressing them from that place isn’t the answer either. Allowing ourselves to feel them fully, celebrating them, and using the breath to allow them to move through us, is.

The world has always had alcoholism, crime, prostitution, porn, deviant sexuality, drugs, and all manner of darkness that we want to pretend doesn’t exist. But pretending doesn’t change the fact that those things do exist, and they exist for a reason.

I’m wondering if what we’re seeing is a step forward for the human consciousness in that at least now all the dark matter. Or a step backward in that people are identifying more with the darkness and allowing it to grow unchecked. I hope it’s the first.