Technological Ascesis

The Prudentialist

The Prudentialist

Observing the world from a dissident and realist perspective. Musings on culture, politics, and international relations.

There is a pleasant stillness in nature, despite the constant movement of its flora and fauna. On a calm day, you can hear the bees on the land buzzing around as the birds emerge and flock to feeders to find mates. When the sun pokes through the canopies of evergreens and oaks, the pleasure increases in the stillness as you bask in the warm embrace of creation.

It contrasts well with the openness of the highway, especially a long, winding stretch that juts across the smaller parts of the countryside. Your cell signal is weak, and the radio stations are getting fainter as you enter that nice quiet spot where really only AM radio signals remain for weather updates, but it’s not like you’re going to tune in anyways. You can be going 75 miles an hour down the road, you can feel the acceleration in your car, yet you are sitting perfectly still despite the fact that one wrong move or collision could send you flying. You’re simply sitting still in your seat, going without moving aside from your legs and ankles.

Stillness offers solace, a retreat, and a return to a time when a more mindful practice of time and attention discipline was required. Man’s mind is constantly drawn and quartered, not just by his limbs or sensations, but by every direction in a torrential current of gravity of scenarios, conversations, memories, and more, all with little or no force to overcome the inertia. A schizophrenic society driven mad by its own Faustian temptations to know everything all at once at all times and in all places. A madness driven by man’s own foolish impulses to take on God’s omnipotence.

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Over the last six months, I have taken up the time and effort to do two things, of which I am quite happy with the results, and I wanted to share them with you. In some ways, it’s my own struggling attempt at some kind of technological ascesis, yet I wanted to report on it. So this will be a shorter post than usual, but nevertheless, in this current age of a very digital panopticon wherein even the data from your workout machines is sold for profit and you are given the bill, I think it’s important to stay abreast of what works and what doesn’t.

For starters, I have always been somewhat tech skeptical. Yes, new toys are exciting, but when I was in my senior year of high school, the fallout from Edward Snowden and the information that was leaked to the public, and taking the time to realize just how nonexistent privacy was… it left a bad taste in my mouth when it came to virtually all aspects of a digital life. Comfort, ease, “subscription models,” the Internet of Bodies will be the first few steps into this coming transhumanist age I fear many will walk into without a care in the world for its shiny baubles and speed that deprives them of any semblance of thinking outside of the false equivalency that progress=good.

Social cohesion mandated by an elite technical class that will ensure social selection pressures are oriented for the progressive orthodoxy of the time. Social media is the medium in which most if not all progressive social contagions disseminate. It’s not just the schools; social selection pressures on everything from gender identity to race affect teens and now even younger children, as evidenced by Libs of Tik Tok’s never-ending stream of dysfunction.It is these machines, the very digital ayahuasca that we consume, that is tailor made cocktails for rewiring our neural pathways and addicted to the digital astral plane.

To be very very blunt, it fucks with you.

As a way to take some of the impact on the body, mind, and soul, I have taken the weekends off from tweeting. I still do, but on Saturdays and Sundays I have Twitter uninstalled on my phone. Scheduled tweets for Prudent Observations, and the now very routine, “goodnight, church tomorrow” and “good morning go to church” tweets of Saturday night and Sunday morning.

To be away from it all, it helps a lot. Days when I’m not recording or dealing with the boring WFH stuff I am usually in the woods, reading. Man cannot be wholly disconnected from nature, lest a different kind of madness sets in where one finds the trees foreign and the sky’s majestic blue unsettling. Our phone screens have become the new gladsome light of an unholy glory that helps us dull our own mortality for just a few moments more, staying on perpetually as to never look at the reflection of ourselves because we might not like what we see if we put the phone down.

Nevertheless, I think longer breaks are important, especially for those of us who write and are often producing work. Maybe I say this as a way to “cope” with the fact I am not doing this full time, although I wish I made enough money from this to certainly do so. Yet I am also aware of my own vulnerabilities and am trying to act accordingly. Temptation to get into petty spats or to get sucked in to the inside jokes and shitposting can very much get in the way of the things that I want to do. I’ve told myself with the upcoming great fast of Lent that I will be taking a break from twitter entirely, save for having something to automate my tweets for when I post new videos or livestreams.

If I weren’t this “E-Personality” or the meme’d “Niche Internet Microcelebrity” of sorts (a term I don’t know if I should even give to myself) I would be doing what several members of my parish do, all men in their twenties, having dumbphones. Literally just calls or texts, and the phone is about the size of a wallet. Very small, easy to lose, and not as invasive because it literally can’t do anything else. Yet, my time away from the computer or the phone goes a long way. Even now as I write this, it is nothing more than a transcription of written notes in my notebook that I use to write my video scripts and Substack posts.

I could probably do more to be better disciplined with my time management. Lord knows this is true. However, I believe that taking the time and utilizing my geography has been a blessing in and of itself in terms of not being as overly online as I frequently warn and monitor. I have friends, a love life, a thriving Church and spiritual life. The fact that thousands upon thousands of people listen to what I say or produce is just the cherry on top of something that one day I’d like to make a full time living from.

I would encourage you all to take time away from this, to read not from the eBook or e-reader, but rather the book that is yours to keep. I am unaware of any study on the matter, but I certainly focus more and retain more information from a printed book or text than I have from any pdf or blog post I’ve read. Perhaps it is the medium, or the simple snare of opening up five or six other tabs with JSTOR pdfs or blog posts. It is most likely the latter, hence my focus on reading more and more outside instead of from behind my desk and computer screen.

But for now, I think it is important to take regular breaks from this sort of thing, and above all trying keep things spiritually oriented in the things that you do. I’ll conclude with this prayer that I say before each livestream, recording, or time behind writing on Substack. I know that my readers come from all sorts of traditions and faiths, but I am who I am, and that won’t change.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Only-Begotten Son of Thine unoriginate Father, Thou has said with Thy most pure lips: For without Me, ye can do nothing. My Lord, O Lord, in faith having embraced Thy words, I fall down before Thy goodness; help me, a sinner, to complete through Thee Thyself this work which I am about to begin, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.