Every day we learn more about our home planet’s fascinating cohabitants: we know that mother pigs sing to their piglets while nursing; we know that chickens form complex social hierarchies; we know that dolphins have the longest memories in the animal kingdom; we know that birds can sing a wide range of complex songs, each with its own specific meaning; we know that when a goose’s mate dies, its partner will remove themselves from the flock and mourn for life.
Articles by Rozali Telbis
Whether subconscious or not, most of us seek out rituals or initiations in whichever way we can. In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell writes, “Young people just grab this stuff. Mythology teaches you what’s behind literature and the arts, it teaches you about your own life. It’s a great, exciting, life-nourishing subject.” Kids are naturally drawn to mythology, but they seek myths out in different ways – in the 80s and 90s, kids found them in film and television, now they are found primarily through their digital devices.
Much of our rituals today do not support personal growth or transformation, instead they serve to confuse and disorient. And in the absence of myths altogether, personal transformation isn’t possible. According to Campbell, “The absence of myth is the absence of psychological transformation.”
Over the past several months, many of these reputable voices – including high-profile journalists – have been jumping ship from their safe, cushy jobs to join Substack, a newsletter-based subscription platform, to escape the onslaught of ideology, censorship, and rigid editorial control.
Some are calling this migration the “beginning of the gold rush," others are comparing Substack to the old Internet, while others are likening it to the early newsletters of the 17th century. In some ways, Substack does harken back to the old blogosphere; it is reminiscent of a former Internet, and elicits a certain sense of nostalgia. As tempting as it is to see this as a step towards building a rich information ecosystem, I fear this mass migration will simply re-organize the establishment class in new ways and create more toll booths on the information highway.
The democratizing potential of the Internet echoed across the world: it was seen as a true equalizer, a force for good, and one that looked the same everywhere irrespective of one’s geographical location -- it defied all territorial borders. This vision was hardly seen as radical or controversial. Quite the opposite, it was widely embraced among tech circles, even by the likes of Microsoft.
But that Golden Age of the Internet is long gone.
Individualism is highly coveted in Western culture. Entire industries exist exclusively to profit off of our increasingly unhealthy preoccupation with ourselves. And with the arrival of the Internet, many more opportunities for people to express their individuality emerged.
Chatter about individualism grew amid the pandemic, with issues of identity being the focal point of many debates. The question of identity and its related discontents became a mainstay of public discourse.
These issues didn’t start in the pandemic, nor did they emerge with the rise of post-modernist thought – which has been years in the making. Indeed, today’s preoccupation with identity has a long history – and its popularity largely stems from transformative changes undergone in the centuries preceding, though at that time, it had a different name.