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Silencing others to hear yourself

March 14, 2021

The fear of finding oneself alone - that is what they suffer from - and so they don't find themselves at all.

Andre Gide

Beethoven produced his best work when he became deaf. He stopped listening to the tune of his contemporary society and produced original work that changed classical music forever.

On the other hand, most people are swamped by other people's opinions, which makes it increasingly hard to hear their own thoughts. The barrage of temporary opinions from social media is stealing our attention from the moment we wake up.

We are stuck in what David Perell calls "The Never-Ending Now". The phenomenon of only consuming information that has been produced very recently and lasts very shortly.

Social media algorithms prioritize and promote the most recent content to make us more addicted to the refresh button. Social media platforms weaponize the recency bias to most effectively capture our attention. They suck us into temporal myopia, which makes us blind to anything that's not happening right now.

Marcus Aurelius was fascinated by a simple fact almost two thousand years ago: we all love ourselves more than other people but care more about their opinion than our own. Perhaps this is the reason why we're stuck in The Never-Ending Now and drawn so much to social media. We believe that what others think is more important than hearing ourselves.

From an evolutionary perspective, this is understandable. We are social creatures that depended on our social circle for survival for thousands of years — caring about what others think was more important in that kind of environment. Not caring could've made you isolated, which would significantly decrease your odds of survival. Loneliness actually hurts since being alone was physically dangerous.

Yet, in our modern environment, we no longer depend on our tribe as much. We no longer operate in bands to successfully find food. But, we still carry our ancient instincts. And social media is exploiting this.

This article is a plea to spend more time alone to hear yourself. Be alone with your own thoughts. Re-discover what has been silenced. Find yourself again.

Writing first thing in the morning is a great way to do this. Doing this makes the morning time a gift. You don't give it to social media platforms but to yourself. Instead of asking what others think, you start asking what you think.

@shime_sh Hrvoje Šimić
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