My TEDx East London Talk ended with a proposal. The Border Diet: A diet to protect yourself against persistent Full Disclosure that the digital world forces upon you. The late John O’Donohue, in another context, spoke of ‘inner eviction and outer exile’ of our Selves. I think this is an epidemic in need of serious warning. Sherry Turkle of MIT has written about this, in her latest book, and with the wonderful title: “Alone Together’. My point of the talk was: don’t get sucked into Total Transparency, Total Disclosure, I-Have-No-Secrets philosophy. It has consequences…
So this is my Border Diet:
1. Have a list of secrets, make an inventory, keep them. Review them monthly. Having no secrets is a symptom of Self depletion. There are sacred secrets of your soul and in your soul. They are your real friends, because they are the closest to you.
2. Take social media sabbaticals. Make yourself not just ‘unavailable’ (this is the analogue term) but ‘un-discoverable’ (digital). Or chose selectively to whom you make your Self discoverable. And how much, and for how long.
3. Drop Pilates, take Pascal classes. Pascal said that ‘All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone’. That has not changed since the 17th Century, if anything it is today incredibly more difficult. The 21st Century human can’t ‘sit’: we have become restless, attention deficit disorder beings.
4. Make an inventory of assets you can give to others: start with time, ideas, attention and care. Keep stocks high. Make sure you don’t give too much at a time.
5. Practice daily silence. Start simple: radio off, earphones off. Despite common belief, it is possible. Silence will help you listen to your Self, and who knows, beyond. Not for nothing silence has been called God’s language.
6. Practice stillness. Stop moving, jogging, going to the gym. Well, not all the time. Don’t do anything, I repeat, anything, for a good 30 min a day. Try. It won’t kill you. Notice I have not said meditation. Meditation is doing something.
7. You would not choose to be in a room full of smoke or a contaminated nuclear area. Mental pollution is much worse than those. It’s the greatest digital health hazard. Avoid systematic mental exposure to trivia much as you would avoid breathing smoke.
8. Don’t be open, transparent and exhibitionist. You are fooled by your ego. Hard as it is to accept for many people, nobody really cares about you checking in at the airport of X, having cereals Y for breakfast today or just changing your cover photo in Z. You are mainly reporting to yourself what your Self already knows .
9. Reconcile with your borders, protect your distances, go back to your inner house. Then you can give from within. But you need to protect your Self from all open windows, and all open doors. The Self may catch a cold
10. Then, go back to number one.
Read the full ‘In Praise of Borders article