Drugs can be defined as anything that changes an individual’s conscious state, whether chemical or technological, can cause our experience of life to be altered. I will elaborate on this principle by discussing the technological hallucinations we are currently intoxicated by.
Terence Mckenna, an American psychonaut, lecturer, and writer, once said; “Television, while chemically non-invasive, nevertheless is every bit as addicting and physiologically damaging as any other drug.” According to BLS American Time Use Survey, an average American will spend about six hours a day watching television, which is the average time of a psychedelic trip. This does not include the amount of time we spend on cell phones, tablets, game pads and other devices. Mckenna continues to say; “Not unlike other drugs or alcohol, the television experience allows the participant to blot out the real world and enter into a pleasurable and passive state.” In researching this topic I also found an interview Playboy magazine conducted with Marshall McLuhan. He offers his perspective on television;
“Television is primarily an extension of the sense of touch rather than of sight, and it is the tactile sense that demands the greatest interplay of all the senses. The TV image is a mosaic mesh not only of horizontal lines but of millions of tiny dots, of which the viewer is physiologically able to pick up only 50 or 60 from which he shapes the image; thus he is constantly filling in vague and blurry images, bringing himself into in-depth involvement with the screen and acting out a constant creative dialog with the iconoscope. The contours of the resultant cartoonlike image are fleshed out within the imagination of the viewer; the viewer, in fact, becomes the screen.” -From ‘The Playboy Interview: Marshall McLuhan, Playboy Magazine March 1969‘
Photons of light emitted from a screen carry information that causes visuals inside our minds. These digitally induced hallucinations are something so common that it has become seconds nature. The higher the bandwidth and the more pixel density achieved, the more we walk into a new dimension of consciousness. The addiction and the pull to perpetually check your phone, email, Reddit front page and Twitter feed shows how powerful these forms of consciousness-altering techno-drugs can be and are.
Douglas Rushkoff states in his latest book Present Shock; When Everything Happens Now that “The bigger challenge is creating content compelling enough to watch”. We are always looking for a better fix and a longer, more rewarding high. Rushkoff continues “Producers of reality TV must generate pathos directly, in the moment. This accounts for the downward spiral in television programming”. We take the metaphorical hit off the I-pipe in the bathroom stall, sedating the digital compulsion we experience as we are at parties or events IRL. We have optic-IV drips with a constant stream of this new conscious dimension. At our desks, in our pockets, and on our walls. We are waking up in this new digital dimension lost at sea, trying to stay afloat and find land.
Many have spoken about psychedelics as a mind-expanding experience. What is more mind-expanding than what we experience on the internet? Every urge, impulse, and desire has a conduit to fulfillment. We have access to all of humanity’s knowledge, and all of our primal human taboo’s and fetishes. Our passage to adulthood and maturity is no longer a walk into the desert where you face your inner demons. It’s navigating 4chan, using /r/Eyebleach tuning into the "Intelectual Darkweb" pushing how far you are willing to probe the depths in this new, uncharted landscapes.
We understand that the internet, in every facet, is a reflection of human nature. Knowing and accepting this brands oneself as an adult of the digital age. We now have to parent our parents as they try and navigate these new altered states. We are unfazed and inoculated against propaganda as we have seen it all. We are seasoned veterans. We thrive in this new dimension, and these are our African Plains. Natural selection is still in effect, predators still lurk. The new kings of the digital age are the youngest among us. They are the most equipped to understand and track the digital footprints, they are the ones that lead us into new frontiers. Listen to the youth. They are the new shamans; masters of the techno-drug induced altered states. They are born with these inputs, raised no longer in a mother’s arms, but on her phone or tablets touch screen nourished via Wifi, 4g, and fiber optic umbilical connections.