Today, I decided to live one day without my cell phone. I press the off button for a long time, and I look at this black screen. I see the reflection of my face. Finally, why is everyone looking at this black screen, this black mirror, to use the title of an English science-fiction TV series?
At the origin of the Internet, however, was the collective utopia of an egalitarian, happy and free world. There is the hymn to the advent of the Aquarian Age which opens the musical “Hair”. For, as you may not know, today’s global Internet is a direct descendant of the small hippie communities of the San Francisco area on the west coast of the United States in the 1970s.
At the origin of the Internet were these long-haired communities in California who felt the powerful influences of their times. It was these groups that created the idea of a new age of Aquarius, a utopia whose transformations have resulted in the monstrous global computer network, the Internet, and all the digital networks we use every day with our computers and telephones.
The ideals of these communities? All the utopias of a New Age: spiritual realisation, manifestation of the “Self”, blossoming of consciousness in its cosmic dimensions, universal peace, and the end of wars.
Their tools? Computers, agents of planetary universality, guarantors of the absence of hierarchy, and guarantees of a global and decentralized democracy.
Their strategy? To hijack the use of the military computers of the time used in the Vietnam War and in the missiles of a programmed nuclear holocaust, and to give the people this new hopeful technology for free.
And, as an improbable event that seems unbelievable today, in less than fifty years, this strategy of the Flower Power hippies has become a reality. One person occupies an essential place in these utopian projects of the Californian communities of the 1970s: Stewart Brand. Already in the 1960s, he had imagined and promoted the myths of computers with the Whole Earth Catalog. Maybe you’ve had it in your hands, this improbable catalogue that originally was supposed to make it possible to find everything you need to live independently in a community. It was from this enumeration of prerequisites for a new age that the
American counter-culture was born, with its “peace and love” communities and rock bands.
Social networks, historically, have germinated in the soil of Flower Power’s counter-culture and musical culture. Around San Francisco, the sanctuaries of hippie culture became the temples of Silicon Valley. The musicians of the rock band The Grateful Dead were the indispensable references for all those computer scientists who, in the 1980s, created the WELL electronic conference system, the first system that foreshadowed the Internet and its social networks.
And it is also through the author of the Whole Earth Catalog, Stewart Brand and his close friends and family, including Steve Jobs, future CEO of Apple, that the Internet became an object that could be bought and sold on the great market of American liberal culture. The Great Game of Marketing Ideals had begun. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates, had understood as early as the 90s that the greatest riches of the future would not be hidden in the ground. They would not be veins of precious metals or gold nuggets. No, the greatest wealth of the future would be the virtual universe of the Internet and the mirrors of its social networks.
In thirty years, the famous GAFA, Silicon Valley’s multi-billion dollar companies, proved them right. Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon have become sprawling monsters. From Silicon Valley in California, they govern many aspects of our daily lives, in Europe, on all five continents, and even in the most remote parts of the planet. One word sums up this new form of colonization of the planet by digital technologies: gentrification, the gentrification of entire regions by digital workers and their values. One sentence, which says a lot, sums up this process: We make the world a better place. This “better world”, in reality, does not need to be manufactured or synthesized at all! It already exists, you just have to let it manifest itself
So what happened to move from the innocent and pure values of peaceful hippie communities to hard capitalism of Apple or Facebook?
What happened to move from the universal and free love of the musical Hair to the Instagram algorithms that mathematically determine which people to connect in order to get the most out of their shares on the stock market?
So what has happened to move from these utopian ideas of a peaceful global village to the absolute control of everything and everyone through Google’s Big Data, to a Brave New World, a “better” world worthy of George Orwell or Aldous Huxley’s worst dystopias?
Because today Internet companies like Google, Amazon or Facebook are so powerful that they are bending states. The 2020 GAFA statistics would probably make the hippies’ hair stand on end, if they were still there and still have long hair. The cumulative number of social network users on the planet exceeds three and a half billion people. In France, 100% of 18-24 year olds are connected to the Internet every day. The financial value of Google and Apple alone is estimated at more than $1,000 billion, three times the GDP of a country like Denmark. The style of Instagram photos determines the trends. A single hashtag can trigger millions of reactions. In short, Internet technologies control the entire world. So how did we get here?
To try to understand this, let us return to a fundamental law of the universe, the law of attraction and repulsion. For the first hippie communities, in the 1970s, universal peace was not a utopia, it was a vibratory reality and this vibration had to become a reality embodied in the world. These communities wanted to attract a new age by the “law of attraction”, by the sheer force of their intention. Very consciously, these communities saw the future offered to humanity by the forces of what they called “the New Age of Aquarius”. And, by the force of their ideation, they were changing their own consciousness to change the world around them.
With the help of meditation practices and the teachings of Hinduism, a few micrograms of LSD and hallucinogenic mushrooms and a lot of intuition, they explored the subtle worlds. They came to the conclusion that the greatest force in the Universe could not be other than Love. Not only free love, but true love. Love-peace, the cosmic force capable of melting millennia of brutality, unconsciousness and selfishness into its warm rays. The force that transcends and transforms holocausts and genocides, including the genocide of the Amerindians, for which the hippie communities of the 1970s wanted to bear both responsibility and consequences. Love, the force that unites opposites, brings enemies together and harmonizes dissonance. Love and Peace were for these West Coast communities an emanation of the fundamental law, the law they saw manifested by the law of attraction – so much so that love unites, attracts and pacifies.
Computer scientists know that everything in our universe can be coded with 1’s and 0’s. Binary code is even the basic structure of microprocessors and computer language. Everything that exists can be defined by positive and negative polarity. Life always expresses itself with its two polarities, be it through physical procreation, or intellectual and artistic creation.
And in our own nervous system, it is still these two polarities that allow consciousness to manifest itself. Polarity exists at all levels. For example, the conscious sensory system is in polarity with the unconscious vegetative system. In any learning process, polarity must be present. It is necessary that there must be a “right” and a “wrong” in order to learn something. Polarity is necessary even at the most basic level of the functioning of the consciousness. Polarity is necessary so that our consciousness can simply represent reality. It is the polarity between “I” and “not I” that allows the consciousness to manifest itself. And this notion of difference between the “I” and “that which is not the “I” is not as obvious as one might think. Until the age of three, for example, the little child does not differentiate well between its own body and the objects around it. And by the time we reach adulthood, many of us confuse our own emotions with those of the people around us. And, in systems that teach immediate enlightenment, such as Zen in Japan, it is the consciousness of “I” that is the main obstacle to liberation, while the “non-me” is the door to enlightenment.
So, “I” or “not I”?
To go further, let’s go into ourselves, into our own nervous system. Since 1990, researchers have discovered that in our brain there are special cells that reflect the polarity of the outside world. These nerve cells are activated when we perform an action… but also when we observe someone performing the same action. By studying these neurons – which have been called “mirror neurons” – we understand how humans interpret the intentions of others and begin to understand the process of learning our consciousness.
That’s exactly what’s happening through our cell phone mirrors. And it’s also the reason for the gigantic development of social networks. We need, our consciousness needs, to see an “other” do the things we do. Our consciousness has a vital need for a “mirror”. And changing consciousness needs a changing mirror.
This is undoubtedly the reason for the eternal optimism of social networks, the staging of daily reality. Always more beautiful – thanks to Instagram’s image editing algorithms, always more friends – thanks to Facebook stories, always stronger and more united – thanks to hashtags… We need these daily images of a transcended reality… because somewhere inside our consciousness there is a certainty. The certainty that reality cannot be only what the world shows us. There has to be some meaning to it all. A larger world must exist somewhere in virtual space. We are certain that there is something else. Deep within us there is this certainty: Love must manifest itself. Inside us, we feel this push, this vibration and this energy towards a new world, truer and more transparent.
Today, everywhere, from Greta Thunberg to Pablo Servigne, we see this collective impulse towards freedom, autonomy, transparency, authenticity, sharing. These values were not born in us by chance. They didn’t come into being by chance in the hippie communities of California. These values are the signatures of a great global change, a radical change that is winning over every society, the change that some call the Aquarian Age.
So, will the Aquarian Age appear on the black screen of my cell phone? I’m looking at the black screen right in front of my face. In my reflection, you can see that little sparkle in the back of my eyes. Does it contain the answer to the question?