Published March 2012
This article is an investigation into the vital role that the technology of the Internet is playing in our psychosocial and neurological evolution. With the integrity of this system under threat by the powers that be, now is an important time to understand this vital technology and it’s potential for us as a species.
Evolution of a Living Technology
The Internet is a living system of human connection and ideas augmented through technology. Like trees communicating through the mycelium network in the forest floor, our symbiotic relationship with the Internet is helping to expand our abilities to share essential information, transcend the boundaries that once divided us and enable us to thrive as a mutual collective. The new paradigm of human interaction that is evolving out of our relationship with the Internet will help us to heal our world and ourselves from the ignorance that has plagued our history. The Internet is more vast then most of us can fathom and it is still growing, expanding beyond the digital and through the neurological into our daily lives and almost every facet of contemporary human culture.
As we build more technological hubs and ingrain interaction with the net more deeply into our personal lives, we are building a brain to house the culminating expression of mankind. This is a brain whose best ideas will rise to the top as a result of us openly sharing the information that inspires us most. This exposure to the cream of human thought through digital sharing platforms is building coherence between once divided cultures. It is building a common ground to connect in ways that are no longer divided by geographical coincidence. Our sharing through the Internet is amplifying our psychosocial and spiritual evolution as a species towards self-realization: an evolutionary jump in life that will mark dawn on the day after a new age of life begins. But, all of this might be lost if we let the Internet be chopped down by the powers that be.
Communication Through Biomimicry
The evolution of the Internet has been an organic evolution. Its growth is not founded merely on the expanse of technology, just like the development of an idea in our mind is not founded merely on the growth of our synaptic pathways. Just as synaptic pathways grow as a result of an interest and effort in expanding our knowledge and understanding, the technology of the Internet has grown as a result of our drive to participate in it, to participate in interacting with each other. The evolution of the Internet is organic because it is the capability of human connection that has been growing. Its growth is the growth of human communication. The technology we have created is only the means for that communication and the connection with each other we desire and require.
The forests that still thrive; the forests that have yet to be compromised by human ignorance are a dynamic living system that communicates information effectively. The primary means of its communication is the mycelium network in the forest floor. The information being shared is the needs and yields of the forest, exchanged in the language of nutrients. Mycelium is the root structure of the fungi kingdom. The mushrooms that we see sprouting on the surface of the soil are the fruiting body of the mycelium. The role of the mycelium in the forest is to communicate nutrients between different flora and fauna from where those nutrients are abundant to where they are lacking, communicating nutrients as needed to ensure the mutual thriving of the entire forest as a whole. For example, if one tree in the forest is lacking nutrients of a certain type and another tree has a surplus, those nutrients are communicated via the mycelium across the forest floor to the tree that is in need. By creating a symbiotic relationship with the mycelium, the trees thrive as a mutual collective beyond what they would be capable of on their own. The mycelium is the network by which the trees and the whole forest thrive.
The Internet is a digital recreation of an organic system the planet uses to communicate the information necessary for its mutual thriving; it is a technological mycelium network. Like the trees in the forest that thrive when they work together in symbioses with the mycelium, so can we thrive as a species and a civilization when we learn to work symbiotically with the internet in the same regard: working towards a common goal, a goal of thriving as a collective, in harmony with each other and the planet.
I believe the invention of the Internet is the enviable consequence of a previously proven, biologically successful model ~ Paul Stamets, American mycologist and author
Thriving in Symbiosis with the Internet
As a person in a small community of people sharing like ideas, I am able to achieve more then I would be capable of on my own, though I am still limited to the like ideas present in the cultural zeitgeist of my local geography. By creating a symbiotic relationship with the Internet, I am able to connect to a global network and find a community of people with like ideas that transcend my geography. For example, let’s say I like to write about a controversial topic like psychedelic drugs, but there aren’t very many people in my local community that share in that interest. In this case, my ability to thrive intellectually and artistically, as a respected member of a community with like ideas is limited. Yet when I utilize the Internet as the means for me to connect with the psychedelic community at large, I transcend the lack of interest in my immediate geography and can thrive artistically and intellectually in relation to a larger community who share in my interests.
When I understand why and how to utilize the Internet and develop a symbiotic relationship with it, I am able to achieve far beyond what I would be capable of on my own because now I am connected to a community who share like ideas through an efficient method of communication that potentially spans across the entire globe. My participation in this larger digital community benefits more than just me, as for it to benefit me it requires my participation. This participation helps to put back into the network for others in the community to benefit from as well, creating a base for mutual thriving.
Imagine what happens when the like ideas that are being connected on are those that are essential for the thriving of the entire planet and the community sharing those ideas includes the majority of the human race.
Sharing is Caring
As we share information with each other like permaculture, aquaponics, spiritual philosophy, indigenous wisdom, scientific discovery, inspirational artwork, music, alternative history, the advance of technology, psychology, astrology, philosophy, a gifting economy and so on, we are being exposed to the reality of our ability to live in a society founded on mutual thriving. This exposes us to a truth that lay beyond the illusion of separation and competition we have been bred to believe in. These like ideas, that represent a new social paradigm, are coming to the surface of our digital sharing along with the awareness of the dangers we are in.
As the Internet works to bring information for our mutual thriving, it also communicates information to alarm us that we are in danger. Through sharing vital information on the dangers that threaten our life on this planet — i.e. climate change, solar activity, corporate greed running our governments, the lies of mass media, the reality of war for economic control, secret police, the financial elite, the crumbling of our monetary and market systems, the unnecessary indoctrinated values that are pulling us apart, tragedy in other lands and the corruption in our own — we are being pushed to evolve socially and psychologically in order to survive.
The progress of our civilization has created a multitude of things are threatening our very existence and because of this threat, we are becoming aware of these things, sharing our knowledge like tweeting the doomsday bell to warn that it is time for a new way of living. A way of living is available to us in the same way the warnings were. Through sharing openly with each other beyond the geographic and cultural boundaries we’ve inherited by way of our very own mycelium network—the technological organism we have called the Internet—we are preparing to save ourselves from civilizational collapse and dramatically advance our own psychosocial evolution. Yet there is a catch; it requires critical thinking and action.
New Neurological Architecture
This technologically assisted transcendence of geographic and cultural boundaries is laying a neurological architecture that has not been seen by human civilization as far as our history has told us. Where our history has taught us to see each other for our differences, our participation in the global Internet community is showing us our fundamental similarities, our interconnectedness. This experience of relating with each other on a fundamental human level through the use of social networking platforms and participating in the spread of viral Internet memes is building and solidifying the neurological structure in our brains required to process this experience of fundamental interconnectedness.
The biological expression we are unlocking for the generations to follow us through the development of this neurological potential is an evolution in our brain structure paired with an evolution in our social relationships. The Internet has become more than just a technological sharing platform through which we communicate information; it has become a tool to evolve our neurology towards more coherent social relationships on a global scale. This guides us toward efficiently relating with each other on the foundation of similarity rather than separateness.
Transcending the Digital
Beyond the digital storage of information and a technological platform for social interaction, our participation with the Internet is also teaching us how to thrive with each other in the non-digital. It is our knowledge, wisdom, critical thought, emotional experience and ability to share those traits; to share our stories with each other that has pushed mankind’s evolution. The Internet has become the next step in that evolution by granting us a more inclusive and efficient means to share those evolutionarily beneficial traits; to better share with each other our stories of growth and wisdom. This is where the action comes in.
We learn on the Internet and share what we have learned with each other through our interaction. In this way, the Internet has transcended the digital realms and now extends through us into the non-digital world. Through a symbiotic relationship with the technological mycelium, we have begun to spread the information and evolved social interaction we have learned through the Internet into the non-digital world of our human relationships. This helps to expand a sense of coherency with each other on multiple levels of our being—physically, psychologically, spiritually and socially—by helping us to teach each other different ways to thrive in our environments.
As we continue to evolve towards a global expression of social coherency through the use of social networking and efficient transnational communication, we are still deepening our abilities to connect with each other through new technological innovation. With the development of 4G wireless worldwide connection, technological access points that fits into our pockets and social media software, we are strengthening our connection with each other by strengthening our connection with the Internet and the more we put into the Internet, the larger and more connected we/it becomes.
Building a Bigger Brain
We are collectively building and organizing the culminated expression of all the wisdom and knowledge mankind has earned throughout all ages and places. As the cream of that data crop rises to the top of our newsfeed, we are being granted the opportunity to be more. To be more honest, more open, more confident, more educated, to be more connected! And the more we continue to feed the Internet with the expression of ourselves as alive and aware, wise beings, we continue to push each other towards greater heights of our own awareness, our awareness of ourselves and the potential of our relationships to each other.
Advances in technology allow us to connect to the culminating expression of mankind—our global network of information—and our participation in this project is pushing us towards self-realization. By exposing us to connections between eclectic breakthroughs in human understanding, life, the universe and everything, it is pushing us towards a crescendo of awakening to our truly vast existence and infinite potential. This crescendo, sometimes called the singularity, will push a jump to the next evolutionary stage of life in our story of the universe and each one of us has the potential to play as big or as small a role as we choose. Consider this: How much information do you put into the network compared to how much you take from it? What is the caliber of that information? How effectively are you sharing it?
Where Are We Going?
I believe this living system we call the Internet is dissolving the cultural indoctrination of our history and awakening the neurological potential of a global egalitarian society that lives in harmony with each other and the planet. Whose cultures are secular but universally founded on the cultivation of each individual’s personal potential to create inspiration in another?
Many of you, like myself, are aware that the Internet is not necessarily being utilized to share this caliber of information and often we see completely useless information being distributed. Yet the manner of Internet use I am discussing here is possible and emerging. Its misuse at this time does not circumvent the potential if holds for us as a species. The Internet changes when we choose to change how we use it; it evolves in its function as we evolve in our reasons for using it. It only takes a few of us to begin to understand how to thrive symbiotically with this system and change the way we use it for it to change accordingly and open avenues for others to thrive in symbiosis with it and with us as well.
The Internet could be the means by which we will save ourselves from the flounder of our forefathers and lay a new foundation for a human civilization that will thrive in harmony with the cosmos for millennium to come but it is important that we choose to utilize it in this way if we want to see this potential unfold. When we truly understand this, it becomes vital that we protect the integrity of this system from the threats it now faces from the corporate interest that is running our governments, as our very survival may depend on it.
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Really appreciate this James. Strong air of truth and positivity.
One thing I noticed in your comparison of mycelium and the Internet is that there is a major difference in the integration of mycelium information pathways with the physical needs of the forest. That is one of the major difficulties I see with achieving this potential of the Internet and overcoming the under utilization and proliferation of useless information: the current structure of Internet with our economic infrastructure fails to incorporate the needs of the community. Even for the few who have learned to thrive, this thriving fails to reflect the goals of the community as a whole and the true economic potential of information evolution (vs just proliferation). That probably didn’t make sense, so I’ll use myself as an example: as a student, part time worker, and lover of information, information sharing, and community, my financial prioritizing in my current environment does not strongly reflect my long term goals for information and community. So, although your willingness to freely share your knowledge supports these goals and community, it fails to find its place in my economic structuring of my own life (since our economy has been designed in terms of personal trade offs, it is much easier for me to make financial decisions that support personal needs and limit personal sacrifice than it is for me to buy a physical copy of your paper… I recognize that this sounds discompassionate, but I just want to point out that our society is structured discompassionately and requires intentional and difficult decisions to be compassionate; the ability of this neurological community to thrive then, I think depends on this compassion being much more ingrained in the structure of the way we live).
I think this paper is likely a good example. After all, how many physical copies have been purchased through your site? Even if its been mildly successful, I doubt most ppl would consider the success “thriving”, and so there is a much great ideological gap to overcome in our economic understanding of the role of community and sharing of information (“economy” and “community” are so interdependent, but our notions reflect the opposite–this I feel is the great struggle of society being able to evolve in the ways you note).
I can agree that the current paradigm of internet use in relation to our major socio-economic paradigm does not perpetuate the type of information evolution I am speaking about, yet I would like to encourage you to look beyond where we are at now and see where we may be going in relation to where we’ve been. It is clear that the methods we have been using will no longer sustain themselves or us and must be altered, this “must” is the push to evolve and the direction we evolve is directly influenced by an ability to see where things are not working and how they could work better—information widely available through an easy yet likely invested search on the net.
In addressing the example of yourself and your economic situation due to the current societal context of choosing the path you have chosen:
Yes, you and many others will continue to choose what is personally beneficial for you in relation to the socioeconomic context of which you are submerged. You are deeply involved in a deeply engrained and invested social institution; one that likely isn’t going to change because it is so invested. For example, Montréal students protesting a raise in tuition are pepper sprayed and beaten by police aka “shut up and be in debt or don’t be educated. Your choice, punks” (please notice my facetiousness). But you, as a dynamic being in the process of growth towards “thriving” in your chosen direction will not always be trapped in that institution and when you are not longer so confined by it’s socioeconomic paradigm, you will be more open to making creative choices in your direction, where in right now the choices you have made and the institution you are a part of requires very specific and narrow direction to succeed and “thrive” within. And in my opinion, this institution is not working well enough to survive into the stage of human society that is upcoming and will be changed or completely removed to generate a less centralized and more mutually profitable system, because this system refuses to change.
I recognize your situation and so my essay is free for you to read. I also understand that not everybody is in that situation and some will be able to contribute $$$ to have a physical copy and thus support me in that way. Does the amount of people who contribute $$$ in comparison to those who don’t lead to what could be described as economic thriving at this point? Maybe not in comparison to an oil and gas employee, but in comparisons to the past and my progress, it is certainly on its way.
I would also like to point out that my financial thriving in relation to freely distributed essays isn’t exactly my motive nor my most valued reward. What is my valued reward is the energy and recognition of my efforts and arts being appreciated in the community I am connected to, thus fueling me to develop even more. Maybe eventually I will earn a place where my writing sustains me financially, we’ll see. Making $$$ is not my intention when I write, sharing my passion is my intention but I open people to support me through exchange in the means of our current universal means of exchange and to receive a physical recognition of the gratitude they have shared with me. I would be a lucky person if that were the case as many, many people spend their lives succeeding in writing powerful text sand never make nearly enough money to survive of it.
I also would also like to point in the direction of a shift within out economic paradigm as it is being participated in on the smaller scale. For example, service trade, gifting circles, donation based pricing, “sacred commerce” as some have begun to call it, is a currently small but rapidly growing paradigm for many who can see the reality of what it takes to achieve “success” within the current economic paradigm (as in stepping all over other people and sacrificing the integrity of our communities and the planet) is not working and not desirable for those who are beginning to recognize the interconnectedness of life. Yes the interdependent nature of community and economy is not the “common” perspective within our largest societal institutions, but I encourage you to look beyond those into the community that is evolving around you, things are changing.
Your take is unsurprisingly brimming with your beautiful perspective. In fact, my response was motivated by the fact that I do see this paradigm occurring in this community that you discuss and in your motivations, but this community needs to become our institutions for it to no longer stand in a dichotomous relationship to our institutions. I agree that change “must” take place, and I hope that it will be through the flourishing you note. Historically, I think there has been a great deal more revolutionary need for change, and I hope that it doesn’t take institutional devastation for us to come to this direction as a society (and not just a segmented community branch). I see this tree flourishing in the forest, but I don’t see the dead soil supporting this transfer of nutrition through the rest of the forest.
So I note your motivations and also note the larger system in which these motivations are limited; I truly look forward to the day when your flourishing won’t even stand in comparison to an economic flourishing as we currently understand it. For now, however, those who are able to contribute to a mutually profitable system will often be those who draw their ability from a centralized system which does not support it (not very different from the system I find myself in and find my future post-post-secondary self moving towards, to my dismay–it saddens me that my future goals are often dreamed with respect to economic plans and financial stability). That is to say, the amount of gifting circles which are independently sustainable in all aspects of our human needs are unfortunately small. But I like you see a great deal of hope in this structuring of the community, moving towards a community of compassion and individuals of integrity.
I also agree that the type of sustainable, community focused economic systems are small at this point and quite separate from the major institution, but this is only right now. Over the last several months, as we(a new type of humanity, not necessarily just the immediate group i am involved with) spread the wings of “sacred commerce” and the mentality it goes along with, have begun to integrate into the major institutions, while keeping a flourish within the smaller community going. Learning to utilize $$$ in ways that keep the integrity of community intact and help us progress. The ideas and their practice are spreading.
I would also like to stress that having a major economic institution–certainly not the one we have going right now, or at least in the way it is going–operating and having different packets of minor community focused economic circles or institutions around it is a pivotal part of our social evolution. The majority of this issues we have found ourselves in right now have been stimulated by “big”: big business, big government, big agriculture etc. We have generated a monoculture that has only one leg to stand on — not much there to catch us when we fall. This is why the satellite institutions are so key and will continue to develop.
as for the dead soil comment…. Again I encourage you to look at where we are in relation to how far we’ve come, not how far we still need to go. Yes, much of this is not transferring out to everywhere it needs to be, but that is only because the ability to communicate our surplus with the required efficiency is only just developing as it grows in the minds of the people who are connected to the nutrient flow. The ideas and their practice are spreading.
At the very least I reckon our situation right now as a species and a planet is basically good, because it is. I think more of us are recognizing that and building up from there. Instead of constantly trying to correct and complain about what’s all fucked — which is a lot– we’re creating new vibrancy in response to our situation. This, in my opinion, is another sign of our evolution as a self-aware species: switching from Reactive to Creative.
p.s. I love you too Dustin, Thanks for engaging me.