Self-Care in the Dark & Dangerous Waters of the Virtual World + Prompts



Just a random piece by me ©
In April I needed a break from the world, I needed to rest and to forget, and to be forgotten. I'm lucky that my inner compass is strong, always has been, and it informs me when it is time to turn inwards and when it's time to open back up. This can be understood on many levels: introversion vs extraversion, shadow self vs higher self, staying down to earth vs daydreaming, nurturing vs expansion, accepting vs giving. All this applies to the virtual plane of existence just as much as is applies to the immediate reality.

I'm one of those people who feel like shit when they spend too much time on social media and just interacting with people in general. I am not particularly interested in other people's lives, I also believe that it's not always good for me to be interested in other people's ideas and viewpoints, I don't compare myself to others unless it's for a constructive reason. Simultaneously, I find it rather problematic when people consider me to be interesting to them, to be some kind of a specialist or a teacher, or a cool person to compare themselves to or become friends with. It is nice to speak to like-minded people or just any-minded people for that matter, I love it! But beware - you request or give me too much attention and I'm gone - that's just the way I work. No apologies. I know my shit - do you know yours?

The vast waters of the interwebs are certainly not a safe place for those who pay attention to what they put into their heads. There's only so much invaluable free space on the hard drive of our mind that we can manage each day. It is surely good to fill it up with creative ideas, new knowledge, plans and projects, inspiration, experiences. But it seems like we tend to forget that all those juicy things can also come from within. It's easy to forget when we're bombarded with eye-catching stimuli anywhere we look.

Videos, pictures, photographs, gifs - shorter and shorter forms of expression that require less and less focus and attention to swallow. Instant delivery of information makes it impossible for the recipient to decide whether this is something they want to soak up or not. The more you scroll the more trash you're involuntarily absorbing. This causes our attention spans to shrink and makes our ability to focus damaged. Our nervous system becomes fed up and - unless you're taking care of it properly - before you know it, you function like a spoiled kid in a candy store. There's so much candy that you're unable to appreciate any of it. Knowing that you can get any candy you wish makes you place value on the quantity rather than the quality. You want more and more, just for the sake of getting it, and you eventually lose yourself in it.

I refuse to participate in this. I know that I'm not immune to these things, nobody is. I make a conscious choice to pay attention to what I pay attention to. That is why I often retreat from the virtual world and become unavailable. I focus on me, I pay attention, I nurture myself and the bonds with my loved ones, I cherish the senses, I create, I make dreams come true, I do my work, I do my craft.

How can we help ourselves survive in the interwebs jungle? Two of Swords!

Two of Swords happens to be my April card. I spent quite some time meditating on it and learning its lessons this month. It was a primary inspiration for this blog post.

Two of Swords from Thoth and Mary-El

In the Thoth system, Two of Swords (Peace) represents the beginning of analysis. While the Ace is a pure, undifferentiated potential of the suit - actually quite symbolic of what internet could be perceived to be - the Two of Swords separates and differentiates that potential, gives it a form, performs an energetic Google search or chooses which site to visit. Two of Swords chooses what to do with the potential, how to direct this energy.

In Landscapes of the Abyss, Marie White mentions that "Two of Swords is creation through word, and words are the highest art of man, the potential and destiny of mankind." I particularly love Marie's view of this card. The Mary-El Two of Swords portrays it with a bunch of wings, which are a symbol of transformation. Marie cleverly describes how any symbol is transformed if you give it wings.

Words are like wings.

Words have the power to transform the world, both for the good and for the bad. If you trust someone to be a specialist in a field, you'll believe their words and will see the world through the lens they offer you. We don't always realize how big of a deal that is. Heck, when it comes to the internet, we often don't even care to check whether the source of information is legitimate or someone's just toying with our emotions to achieve a specific reaction from us. Now that is some black magic stuff!

A wise practitioner of magic, of spirituality, of mindfulness, of life will always try to be aware of words - be it their own thoughts or the words of strangers. A wise practitioner of life on Earth will always check back in to see how they feel about the streams of information trying to penetrate them against their will from all directions.

Words are power. 

Those who practice magick know exactly how powerful words are - they are the sole thread we use to weave our reality. Therefore, it is wise to pay attention and be careful what words we allow into our heads. And not only that! It is equally important to be aware of what kind of influence our words might have on others. Sometimes less is more.

Here's a list of prompts / questions you might want to ask yourself, keep in mind during voyages on the web, and perhaps journal about if you wish to up your self-care game in the virtual reality department:

  • Am I engaging in enabling myself or others to perpetuate unhealthy patterns of behavior, addictions or escape coping?
  • Who do I follow on social media? What kind of value do I find in this person's content? (i.e. learning, motivation, inspiration, friendship, growth) Bonus points if you regularly clean the list of people/media you're subscribed to based on who/what you're genuinely interested in and are in alignment with!
  • Am I more of a lurker or a sharer? What does it say about me?
  • Did I ever find myself being jealous of someone on social media? If so, what was the reason? If not, why?
  • Is there a social platform I wouldn't be able to live without for a longer period of time? Bonus points if you actually challenge yourself not to use your favourite platform for at least a week!
  • Am I guilty of not checking the validity / sources of information? Is it easy for me to believe in something without doing my research?
  • Do I jump on the Hype Train easily? How often do I want things I've seen on the internet? What are the things that I would have never bought if it wasn't for the internet communities I participate in?
  • How do I protect my privacy on the interwebs? Do I pay attention to the amount of information I share? Do I guard my space from toxic people and creeps properly or do I allow them to hang around? Do I keep my boundaries strong and healthy or do I let people use me? 
  • How do I feel when I witness people venting on the internet? Do I use the internet to vent/rant myself? Is venting constructive and helpful in actual problem-solving and improving the quality of my life?
  • Have I experienced abuse on the internet? (i.e. sexism, sexual harassment, offense, exploitation, depreciation, racism, cultural appropriation)
  • How often do I find myself mindlessly scrolling through social media? Is it a coping mechanism, procrastination, addiction, anxiety? How could I utilize this time or help myself more constructively?
  • How much time do I spend practicing my craft vs sharing pictures of it and talking about it on social media? How much of my craft is for me and how much is on show?



The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it. 
― Terry PratchettDiggers


2 comments:

  1. Good stuff. My sister and I have been discussing this over the past couple of days; it's very relevant. Also, questions = excellent. The bit about finding ourselves wanting what we see online reminds me of a comment a woman made a week or so ago about the rune Nauthiz, and cutting cords with the products that we think we "need" because we see it plastered all over the media (social media included).

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Olivia! Really good point about Nauthiz in relation to "needing" stuff we see on social media. Thanks so much for mentioning it, that's some runic food for thought right there :)

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