Swimming in Culture and Skipping On its Surface

Are you participating in the world?

published on 11.08.23

How enmeshed in culture are you? Are you participating in the world or simply happening? Do you consume it? Document it? Create it?

Today we are skipping along the surface of culture superficially because of technology. Mostly because of the internet and smart phone. But there is a deeper relationship to culture that is typically called art. Thanks to most of the forward thinking of our time happening in software and technology, the less superficial relationship to culture has also been referred to as "being in the arena". But I like to simply refer to it as being enmeshed in culture. It is a relationship to the world (its art, objects, food, places, people and ideas) that is far more active than our day to day consumption of media, food, or navigation in physical space.

Here are some simple ways to spend more time enmeshed in culture rather than merely skipping on the surface:

There are many more things like these that you can do to actively be part of the world. When you are able to be in that mode, you can feel a real difference. We all slip in and out of this deeper relationship with culture I think. Notice when you are "skipping". It is that dizzying feeling of disorientation, brain fog, overwhelm, anxiety. When I am simply consuming culture (or just "happening" rather than engaging) I often feel like I am looking for some escape hatch or grand plan. Some new idea realized or new city will make me feel grounded again. But this is just a symptom of skipping on the endless ocean of culture we are surrounded with now. When you are just on the surface it feels like this giant ugly thing. The fidelity or preciousness of any individual piece of art or culture cannot be appreciated this way, just digested. But the fact that we have access to global culture now is actually super awesome when you realize you can deeply engage with individual pieces of it. But you have to remember to stop spending time on the surface (the feeds are the most reflective and nausiating example) and go for a deeper swim!

The more active I am in my own life (when I am making things, tinkering, reading, talking with people, going out and about, traveling, trying new things) the lighter I feel and the more beautiful the world appears.

Collected reading on this topic