Social media is beginning to bug me. Big time. I have difficultly passively accepting the twenty first century forms of communication, especially Facebook, and its dumbing-down of the richness and mysteries of life.
I cringe when I feel that I have to compete for attention amongst ‘friends’; bragging about the mediocre focaccia I ate at that hip ‘n’ cool inner west café, posting snapshots online of an unfinished meal that looks like the bottom of a well-used public toilet. I’m angered by this crap taking precedence over the human touch. I don’t apologise for the values that I have, but they sure are at odds with our culture. Whatever happened to spending quality time with love ones, hooking up with friends in the real world, pursuing passions that involve discipline and assiduousness, getting into music, getting into literature, getting into *life* … without succumbing to the sickness of compulsively documenting it online.
Obviously, I see the value of using the Internet and social networking sites shrewdly, otherwise I wouldn’t keep this blog going or create Astro Shite, but I am witnessing a disturbing trend of dumb and embarrassing cyber narcissism, and it saddens me. I’m perplexed by my reaction because I can’t work out where my place in all of this is, or whether I do have a place in the soap opera that is the virtual world.
Typically, I turn to astrology for answers. Now, that’s a language I understand. When a concept or an issue is explained in astro-speak, I get it. I can count on this ancient esoteric science to provide insights into modern life’s conundrums, altering my perspective so that I understand some of the madness. And it is madness. The mental disorder commonly referred to as ‘madness’ is governed by the sign Aquarius and its ruling planet, Uranus. Moreover, Uranus’ axis of rotation is tilted sideways. What delicious metaphors for the Age of Aquarius.
While astrologers dispute the timing of the Aquarian Age (that’s a blog post for another time), we can agree that its effects colour aspects of our lives, most notably through our dependency on the Internet. Technology and virtual reality are hallmarks of this epoch. Aquarius is the least human and least animal of the twelve astrological symbols: it lacks the empathetic nature of the Crab, Scorpion, and Fish; it can’t match the fiery actions of the Ram, Lion, and Centaur; and it’s repelled by the earthiness of the Goat, Bull, and Harvester. What we are left with when we deal with air signs – especially Aquarius – is spiritual, emotional, and physical detachment. Aquarius’ symbol of the Water Bearer is deceptive. The focus isn’t the water bearer at all, but the urn of data, ideas, and mental activity that he carries and pours freely onto unsuspecting mortals, hence, the sign’s affiliation with technology.
In spite of the Utopian visions of the 1960s counter-culture, the Age of Aquarius has little to do with a spiritually oriented, love-sharing global community as typified by the song This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius and the musical Hair. In fact, the driving force of the Aquarian Age (and, therefore, modern society) is information. The biggest challenges we face are those of the mind. So far, it’s been a triumph for the airheads. Thanks to the likes of Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian (who, incidentally, are air signs), the ‘famous for being famous’ syndrome now dominates mainstream popular culture. It is acceptable for unremarkable individuals to be entitled to wealth, fame, and adoration without possessing a noteworthy skill. The ethos of ‘earning your stripes’ is, like, so twentieth century. Get with the program, girlfriend.
The old social glue no longer sticks. Aquarius is more sociable and scene-conscious than emotionally engaging and altruistic. My own dealings with people are more impersonal and superficial than they were over a decade ago. Social networking sites cultivate this remoteness through inane sound bytes while fostering a ‘group trance’ mentality comparable to substance addiction. There is a price to pay. Castrated from the divine source, our spirit and bodies will rebel (if they haven’t done so already).
Fortunately, we can exercise free will in the way we choose to respond to the hype. The road to self-awareness and healing is long. For humankind to reach the inner understanding essential for healthy co-existence, many Ages must pass. Nevertheless, we are entering a turning point in the evolution of human consciousness. Self-consciousness is a priority for the Aquarian Age citizen if we are to become capable members of the human race. To help navigate through the current challenges, Ray Grasse, author of Signs of the Times (Hampton Roads, 2002), offers a set of practical suggestions that might help keep me sane:
~ leave room for silence in your life ~ make space for living, organic organisms in your environment ~ maintain a compassionate heart ~ avoid being hypnotized by the 'group trance' ~ become self-reliant ~ take control of your everyday attitudes (that is, don't depend upon external events for inner fulfilment) ~