The word “metacognition” is a term that waxes most douchey of late. Still, thinking about thinking may be the prime meditation for a generation that graduated college directly into the most difficult job market since the Depression. It’s becoming increasingly hard to unplug from everything— moreover, the sort of endless technology loop is becoming a cycle of strict oppression, dictating where we go, who we talk to, and now with the advent of wearable tech, even monitoring us while we sleep. The one thing that’s never talked about is how much this affects the way we think and act: that we are the generation that has seen the most epic technological advancements to date seems to be a silent truth in the background of a life further automated with every passing of every minute.
This is why meditation is so hard. To sit down with the purpose of thinking about nothing is an oxymoron, especially when knowledge is only a couple keystrokes away.
And this is what I ponder now, shredding down Fell street on my motorbike: the hills, the mountains, the redwoods. Growing up in West Marin, where you had to drive ten minutes out of town just to get a single bar of cellphone reception, it was very easy to unplug— and near to impossible to “plug". I used to stand in the corner of my house just to see if I could line up with the antennae for a fleeting moment, in the hopes that built-up texts would come flooding into my phone; now, I feel my eye twitch if I hear my phone vibrate across the room. By the time we moved, I learned the epic truth I had so often ignored when I was younger. Bliss, as it turns out, should be best enjoyed without a screen.
If I can turn my phone off for a single day, I feel my thought pattern return to a vibrant, colorful piece of stained glass, from a dimly-whirring solid state drive. My thoughts morph from external to internal, from shallow and many to complex and few. As an artist, this feels like a blessing. I didn’t write this article on a computer, I covered my hands in ink smears. I am a working musician by night, and never keep my phone on me when I’m writing music. I’d rather feel what I’m doing than be told how I did it: I can firmly enjoy the company I keep when I’m alone. Can you say the same?
This is a call to arms. Find that empty, beautiful spot where your thoughts find you and collect themselves in a pool at your feet. Ask yourself your opinions, not your smartphone. Turn the damn thing off, and if at first you feel anxious and disconnected, good. This is normal. This is your psyche breaking through the wall of constant yammering that keeps your brain on mute during the day to day. Think about thinking, and how it affects us all. In doing so, we may achieve a new form of enlightenment in interfacing with our access to endless knowledge and secondhand opinions everywhere we look.
Just a thought.