The Mind that doesn’t create is destined to die.
By Maurizio Bisogno
Nowadays, most of our productivity and entertainment is realised through digital means. Because of that, I would like to make some considerations about the effects of this pervasive digital era on our mind. Allow me to start with the following question: “Does the mind constantly look for something to cling on?” A question that calls up immediately another one, “Would this be the reason why digital content in all its browsable, scrollable and clickable forms is so successful, so popular, so pervasive in our contemporary world?”
The mind is addicted to stimuli, which it reaches passing by our five senses. If this is so, when normally awake the mind is mostly in a passive state. On the contrary, when we are asleep, our mind, having shut down the stimuli receptors nearly to zero, is very active and produce its own content.
If this is true, when in the awake state the mind has a passive and receptive function, meanwhile when it is the sleep state or when the senses function is reduced, our mind is active and productive. Our senses, although very important, are a distraction or even a hindrance to the positive function of our mind, if we keep them constantly open and receptive. The mind shuts off when we feed constantly and incessantly our senses with stimuli using digital devices and apps like TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, to name only a few.
Addictions and dependent behaviours are fed by the negative (receptive) function of the mind. When the thinking mind, the creative, positive, active function of our mind is in charge, addictions have or no ground on which to develop.
At this point, I would like to give you an example. My computer is turned off, my phone too and I left my vaping device in another room. I am trying to think and actively use my mind, but this active function is distracted by a habit which, in this moment, is not being satisfied: it is disturbed by the habit to look at what’s available on Internet, what’s going on the various social networks I use, and by my habit to vape which is not being satisfied neither. I am literally fighting against those at present. Flashes of previous activities on digital device pop up into my mind. I must consciously decide to not pick up the phone in my hands, to not turn on the computer and not reach from my vaping device. There is a book right next to me, I started reading it yesterday. It could help to stay away from those habits (in fact, I have plenty of books) – but think this: a book is also an external stimulus, although it has limited dose of stimuli. Nevertheless, reading a book is also an activity that feeds the mind that stays passively and receptively open to conceptual and imagery content originated by the book itself. When you read you are offering to the mind something to cling onto. It is true, a book has less senses stimuli, but it is yet another way to feed on, so too much reading has the same effect on the mind: it makes it passive. Therefore, even this activity risks to be used against the positive and active function of our mind.
To make this approach to mind a bit clearer, let me use an analogy. If we compare our mind to our stomach, we will see better what I mean. By our activity of eating we introduce food and liquid everyday in your stomach. Now, if this latter were just a passive and receptive sac, it would have been full the first few day of our existence. If we limit ourselves to intake and shut off the active function of our stomach, we will die in a few days. Fortunately, the stomach knows or keeps itself active – that’s why we can eat at intervals a few times in a day, although, even in this case, we eat often more than we need.
Now, why do we think that our mind is different? In fact, is very similar to our stomach: if you shut off its active functions by reducing it to a mere receptor, then you will soon become mind-less. Overfeeding your mind with an enormous and constant flow of stimuli does damage and ultimately destroy the active, positive, productive function of your mind. It transforms you into an empty shell with several tentacles what be constantly connected to survive—we become mind-less zombies.