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Competing realities in a digital age
For Natalie :)
Writing publicly feels discordant unless I’m writing for myself or someone else. And so, I’m ending my substack hiatus by addressing my letter to Natalie. Who is she? A one-of-a-kind friend with whom I enjoy having fish and chips. I will likely be addressing my posts with a friend in mind to direct my voice.
I noticed last year that my physical and digital reality often competed for my attention. My physical reality is my default but noticeably shifts when my digital world becomes more compelling.
an unknown frontier open to a person standing at the precipice of his reality
While it may seem obvious, growing up late in the digital age means you internalize certain truths differently or in a more delayed sense than others. When there was incredible sunshine or inspiring people to engage with in my physical world, the Twitter algorithm was no match for my wandering attention. But when there is dreary rain and no one sufficiently compelling to converse within the physical world, my curiosity directed itself toward my Facebook wall or an online discussion forum. I felt this change very deeply: the shift from my body to my mind felt less like something I wanted to control and more to record. The conditions and variables that create such states felt more important to track.
When I got my first computer at 15, no one warned me that a computer is a portal to millions of different worlds and identities that you get to try on like suits. All I knew was that I wanted to code, and a computer was my best means to achieve that. Now at 18, I’m learning to balance my interests and understand which realities create conditions for the kinds of models that make room for the greatest levels of contentment.
Intentionality and Autopilot
Living with intentionality is one of the most transformative behaviors your agent can learn. Being intentional about noticing your reactions to your environment is a good start. Are you living in a world of constant noise? Signal? Butterflies? Sandstorms? What parts of you are unlocked when you are there? Do you accept that? What could make it better? Deciding how your agent interacts, receives the world, and makes the changes necessary to achieve a goal is one of the first steps to deviating from autopilot.
Last year, I knew I had to finish my senior year before I could emerge back into my world of sovereign delight. Therefore, indulging in my digital reality more than the ideal level felt acceptable. When I was happiest with my physical world, I was hardly online, and my tweet quality worsened. After returning to my hometown in New York, my tweets noticeably improved, and I grew increasingly online. I’m okay with it as long as I’m aware of its limits.
Now I emerge into a more fantastic realm of adulthood, intentionality, agency, and sovereignty than I have ever experienced in sunny California. I also (hopefully) continue writing here. I have hundreds of ideas in my private notes of threads I’d want to expand and blog about but never felt worthwhile to finish.
As per my sincere commitment to Natalie, Paul, and a few others, I will deconstruct various worldviews, ideas, books, and tough questions on this Substack weekly.
P.S. I’m a current noob at this platform. Take that as you will.
Thanks for sticking around!
Thanks to Pradyumna Prasad for reviewing this post for legibility when I started writing at ungodly hours.
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