“No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life,” wrote thirty-year-old Nietzsche. We all face the pressure to conform. To join others and unify. And while that is great for combating major issues- improving healthcare, education, and government, it doesn’t work when seeking our own true path in life. That must be decided within each of us.
When outside forces demand acquiescence, we risk losing our best resources- each person’s unique perspective and input. Only through that diversity can we grow and evolve. That’s why marriage among close relatives was outlawed. Too much of one thing eventually destroys inherent strength and durability, leaving sickness and deformities in its wake.
Every generation fights for their own standards and goals. But in the 150 years since Nietzsche wrote those words, he never envisioned being bombarded and overwhelmed by not just media ads, but a whole slew of new ways to inundate and overwhelm us. Put this together with our own need to perpetuate manipulated images of our lives and lambast dissenters- conformity seems a foregone conclusion. More and more, we’re pushed to adapt and join the herd to be accepted and loved. More and more overwhelming pressure is exerted to “keep us in line”.
The internet has such breathtaking possibilities, opening up vast amounts of knowledge and communication. Postcards took weeks to arrive and sporadic phone calls cost outrageous fees. Now, it takes seconds and costs nothing. I was able to connect with my daughter daily via texts, emails and calls when she visited Thailand. Soldiers can see and hear their families regularly.
I can access vast amounts of data with the push of a button. Choose from an incredible array of books to read. See the polar bears at the San Diego zoo. Visit the Smithsonian any time I want. Or shop for anything I need, or don’t, at 2 A.M.
But cyber bullying is the ugly underbelly of this amazing and vast way to connect. An easy and effective way to say anything, anytime, without consequences. It’s time we all decided how this incredible gift will be used. A means to connect, share, educate and disseminate the truth? Or as a means to reinforce the commonest opinions, regardless of their validity, while attacking dissenting ones.
In a day and age where it’s easy to manipulate data and assume through artificial logarithms what’s in someone’s best interest to buy or think or pursue, we need to be diligent in protecting ourselves. In protecting our own integrity and path.
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else -means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”e.e. cummings