Depth Psychology and the Digital Age

Depth Psychology and the Digital Age

Google "the digital age" and you'll discover it is rather broadly defined as "the present time"-when most information is available in digital form, as compared to the era before the rise of computers in the 1970s. Depth psychology is the study of the soul, first and foremost associated with uncovering and exploring the unconscious. The Greek word psyche means "butterfly," and is linked to the Greek anemos, meaning "wind" or "breath," as well as "soul" and "spirit"-all concepts that seem distinctly unrelated to technology, yet this diverse and compelling collection of depth psychological insights quickly reveals the archetypal aspects at work on all of us in the depths of the digital age. For one of the founders of modern depth psychology, Carl Gustav Jung, who was born in 1875 and died in 1961, the "digital age" remained in potentia, but even more than half a century ago, he had significant concerns about the challenges of a growing mind/matter split and the excessive focus of western cultures in particular on science, technology, and rational thinking. Jung believed this trend toward "modernity" emerged at the expense of more soulful, reflective, poetic ways of being and issued a strong caution against our increasing reliance on machines and technology. He warned of severe consequences that might ultimately propel our civilization toward collapse, unless modernity could be adequately acknowledged and dealt with from a psychological view. The rapid growth of technology in recent decades, combined with what is arguably a decided lack of psychological context around it, has contributed intensively to concerns for some regarding the speed and quantity of information we and our capacity to navigate such a tsunami of data. Technology has profoundly amplified the speed and efficiency at which we accomplish certain tasks, but at the same time has served to expedite the very pace of our lives, leaving us with little time for reflection and reconnection with things of the soul. Technology alone will never be that thing that enlivens us, enforces our sense of soul in a fast-moving world, and roots us in something which is inherently already there. With the proliferation of digital advances in an increasingly globalized culture, we tend to take "technologies" lightly, without giving them their proper ritual due. In earth-based cultures, "technologies of the sacred" have always encompassed ceremonies, invocations, and rites that created containers in which something very special could occur. Shamanism was only practiced within the proper context by individuals who were designated and prepared to enter sacred space. Over time as the ritual has been lost, the container has also crumbled, and technology is no longer wielded in sacred space but rather is used haphazardly by virtually all members of our society. What is asked for is that we re-boot our understanding of the psychological and soulful aspects of technology in order to adopt a new way of being in a digital world. Social media, video gaming, virtual reality, digital media, screen time, mobile devices, electronic music, "smart" technology, and electronic waste are all everyday imperatives in our current culture, and will continue to be future realities for decades, if not centuries, to come. While the digital age will always produce consternation, scintillation, and debate, no matter the pace of growth or decline, the essays and themes that appear in this collection are timeless, tapping into underlying ideas that can offer context and meaning for generations to come. The authors in this anthology proffer a chance to redeem ourselves, to re-invent our relationship to the digital age and re-infuse these sacred tools with meaning and soul. The details of our technologies may morph, but the contents of this volume are profoundly archetypal, offering patterns upon which we may predicate our own relationship to the depths and breadths of the digital age

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