Short Essays: Knowing & Caring for the Self

To know the Self

To know yourself is a question of authenticity (Eigentlich), or in existentialist terms, Mauvaise foi: it is a question of being ones-Self and not following the herd. While socialisation forms who we are: the ethos of where we are raised is what shapes how we view the world, respond to situations and so-on, we are a being of our own – something which is increasingly seeming to fade due to the pervasion of technology, we are afraid to be alone with our mind because we are so used to constantly engaging through technological interconnectivity.

Independence is being removed, the status quo of the Western world tells us we are atomised individuals with, what Sartre called in Being and Nothingness, ‘radical freedom’, yet we are no longer able to escape the ‘They’ because to not be on social media and constantly part of the technologized social space (the Greeks once went to the Agora to debate ideas, the modern man now battles, or shall I say berates, opponents anonymously through a small screen) alienates us from the entire social realm.

We see technology as a good thing, but we are ignoring the negative impact it has truly had on us and our ability to debate ideas like mature adults. It is no longer just on Twitter or Facebook that political debate has been reduced to yelling, screaming, reporting and blocking. This has carried over into the real world. The only way to defeat an idea you disagree with is too prove the proponents wrong, but the idiocy that pervaded social media early on has now entered the real world with embarrassing protests and Mussolini-esque tactics: shutting down talks, preventing people of opposite opinions entering countries, removing them from the new Agora (I cringed while writing that), etc. These tactics are cowardice, they are ad-hominem, I do not care about whether they are done by the Left or Right it is cowardice.


Care for the Self

Care for the Self is care for the Other. We have the individual Self mentioned above which is neglected by our-Self not reflecting upon its Being, not challenging the ideas it holds by reading opposing opinions objectively and drawing its own conclusions from making its own decisions, for example. But to care for your own Being is also dependent on those who you are closely bonded to, those whom you have relationships and friendships with. Your state of mind can be poisoned by the negativity of those around you, if you surround yourself with drug addicts you are likely yourself a drug addict or likely to head down that path yourself. A young teenager is likely to know people experimenting with drugs, if they are one of the ‘popular’ students they are in a position of influence, this gives them an ability they may or not be aware of, they can denounce that behaviour and possibly set an anti-drug mentality amongst a reasonable portion of their peers. This may seem someone laughable, but I challenge anyone to argue otherwise. It is generally popular students which can set a behavioural standard, a popular student defending a bullied student can make a large change in the perception of other students towards the once bullied student.


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