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Is Technology Feeding Our Inner Reptile?

Technology gives us what we desire, but not what we really need.

This presidential election is nasty. Perhaps elections have always been so, but there has definitely been an uptick in the nastiness considered acceptable in the campaign process. Indeed, there has been a nastification of our entire society.

Perhaps because I write a lot about technology, someone recently asked me if I think technology is somehow causing this increase in the verbal violence and overall bad behavior we are now witnessing.

In truth, technology is not creating our bad behavior or making us behave in the ways we are now behaving. Rather, technology is simply making it easier and more acceptable for us to act out the most primitive aspects of who we already are. Technology is the perfect partner and tool for our reptilian self.

Inherent in each one of us is a strong drive towards pleasure, instant gratification and passivity. At the most primitive level, we are predisposed to criticize, judge, blame, and if at all possible, surrender responsibility. Our primitive nature inclines us towards distraction, entertainment and self-involvement. We see all of these primal tendencies being acted out on the public stage.

Technology is the snack food of choice for our reptilian self. This is problematic for many reasons, the biggest of which being that our overfed reptilian self does not have the wisdom or maturity to lead us towards a state of wellbeing, which is where we want to be headed. At this time in history, we are bingeing on technology as if we were at a cruise ship buffet, allowing ourselves to behave like addicts, to become addicts—because we can and no one is going to stop us.

When we succumb to what’s easiest, we give up the satisfaction and confidence that comes from hard work and effort. When we opt for immediate gratification, we miss out on the joy of process and determination. When we indulge in constant distraction and entertainment, we are deprived of the meaning and excellence that presence and focus deliver. When we live in the shallows, we forego the richness of depth. When we judge, blame and attack, we are left to live in a soup of toxicity. The nastiness we are seeing on the public stage right now is not leading us and not going to lead us to a state of fundamental wellbeing, or happiness for that matter.

Watching this election cycle, it is clear that we need to stop indulging and thereby strengthening our most primitive tendencies, drinking the Koolaid and tacitly agreeing that our sub-par behavior is okay. More than ever, we need to become aware of how we are feeding our reptilian nature with our devices, and what it is creating in our inner and outer worlds. We need to regain control of our primitive proclivities so that we can remember and start acting from our higher wisdom and more evolved self. And, ultimately, so that we can redirect our species towards forward-moving evolution.

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