For the longest time I have been questioning why I do things. Not because I like making myself feel bad, although I am sure some people think I do, but because one of my biggest motivations is to ensure I get the most of my brief time on this earth. I want to make sure that when I am doing all the things I get up to, they are for me, and not falling for the same traps I see the world around me falling for.
This comes down to a lot of things. Social media usage, writing and photography are a few examples of things I enjoy for the intrinsic feelings I have. That’s not to say that I don’t receive, and enjoy, some extrinsic feedback from all these pursuits — and there is nothing wrong with that.
So why question all these things? Why not just enjoy them? Well some research indicates that our overall wellbeing is dramatically affected by the motivations why we do the things we do. In fact, lots of pursuits that out modern culture deems ‘normal’ could be detrimental to our mental health. Conclusions seem to indicate that the more you are driven by extrinsic values the more likely you are to become depressed and anxious.
Unfortunately, the modern world is much more driven by these external feedback loops than ever before. Leading to them to be termed ‘Junk Values’ due to their similar effects on the mind that junk food has on the body. Show off what you are doing to make people envious. Buy stuff to make you feel better and show off. All values that are hyper fixated on in modern western culture and ridiculously bad for your health.
So What Now?
So why does thins all matter to me? As much as I love posting things online and writing blog posts, and I am not going to lie on my deathbed and think about all the retweets I got or who liked my photos. I don’t want to miss anything in life for the wrong reasons and letting myself get away with small steps leads to bigger issues.
I have written many times about enjoying the process of writing more than the end results, and in fact the result causes me a considerable amount of anxiety because there is always an error I spot or some issue to solve. Yet I must keep some checks and balances in place to ensure things stay level.
You might notice breaks in my publishing, and social media posts because when I get to a point where feedback is my focus I need to step back. Indeed, when I write a post I am happy with that discusses a topic I am hoping to have some discourse around it, and it fails the natural things is to wonder why I bother. Which is letting these extrinsic needs take over why I am really doing the activity in the first place.
Taking photos that I want to take and posting them online is one thing but taking photos just to post online is another more dangerous activity. I have let my ego in before and won’t let it happen again. As with junk food, the effects are minimal in moderation, but start living on them and you will not only never be satisfied but also your health will suffer.
Unfortunately, we are surrounded by a world destined to promote these junk values. Valuing things on likes and retweets and living a life through a lens to prompt envy in others. Consuming entertainment that plays on the worst parts of us all and surrounded by adverts telling us what we have is not enough.