Individualism, Content Consumption, and Finding Your Sense of Self

After reading Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener, I found myself thinking a lot about tech, content consumption, and my sense of self. Like a lot of people in their early twenties, I’m trying to figure out who I am. What’s my style? What are my goals? What do I like? What’s my opinion on that? A lot of these questions require introspection and a whole lot of trial and error. Part of this introspective process is really exciting, but part of it is really intimidating. Spending time with your own thoughts can be scary, and now, with the abundance of technology, it’s so easy to avoid that introspective process altogether.

Right now, as you are reading this reflection, you are reading my thoughts, you are consuming my ideas and my narratives. On a day-to-day basis we consume other people’s thoughts all the time. From Instagram to Reddit to Netflix, we are constantly consuming content made by others. In general, this is not a horrible thing. Consuming content is fun, it can be relaxing and sometimes, it can be inspiring. However, consuming content shouldn’t consume your whole identity.

Over the past few years, I’ve realized that a lot of my defining moments, moments where I figured out what I liked and didn’t like, were all moments where I wasn’t connected to technology. Some of my best thoughts came from when I was in the shower or on a walk. Some of my favorite outfits and styles came from me letting myself gravitate towards colors and patterns that I saw on real people, not from Instagram influencers. I even noticed that my writing style and voice evolved based on trial and error from writing consistently. It’s fairly easy to be convinced that Pinterest feeds and Instagram pages are the only sources of sparking creativity, but most original thinking comes from spending time with yourself.

Lastly, I’ve written about customization before, but it is important to note that the purpose a lot of technology is to keep your attention, not to help you find your sense of self. Infinite scroll and personalized algorithms tend to produce homogeneity. I want to make it a goal to continue exploring my own thoughts and get my hands dirty. I’d be lying if I said I wanted to remove myself from technology altogether, but I want technology to be my assistant, rather than my boss.

Like a lot of my articles, I’m not sure what the point is of this one. I guess it’s a reminder to myself, and you, the reader, to spend time with yourself and your thoughts, independent of technology. I’ll end with a quote from Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener.

“Efficiency, the central value of software, was the consumer innovation of a generation. Silicon Valley might have promoted a style of individualism, but scale bred homogeneity.” — Anna Wiener

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