#152 – The Silly Sad-Sacks of Silicon Valley

It seems that the tech wizards in Silicon Valley and their foot soldiers, who had visions of saving the world, are starting to have doubts and anxiety like the rest of us. May Bartlett is a life coach who started Global Impact Coaching to counsel people about how their work might be helping or hurting the world. “They come in and say, ‘I feel like I’m floating in this vast universe, alone, with no purpose,’ Ms. Bartlett said, and there’s a lot of this existential dread.” (1)

Are tech entrepreneurs the latest heirs of Icarus? A few decades back we had Wall Street’s “Masters of the Universe” who are still strutting about more or less aimlessly. We can only counsel all the inhabitants of Silicon Valley against joining Mammon’s entourage. All those who soar aloft, whether with good or selfish intentions, will with their ill-attached wings inevitably end up taking a sobering cold bath in the Sea of Arrogance.

Alas, counseling from their neighbors, living in the same paradigm, suffering from the same anxiety, emanating from the same source, will be of no ultimate comfort.  All beings on our planet, yes even beyond Palo Alto, are mesmerized by the same Goddess of Gain and Glory. Delusional visionaries seduced by the alliteration-prone antics of their false selves are victims of a sibilant-sounding sadness. How to escape the treacherous trekking of our tortured techies?

Let’s follow the path or our good friend Pico Iyer, who moved from Manhattan to Japan 26 years ago when he was in his early thirties and never left. What did he experience that might have a bearing on our painful and pusillanimous pursuit of plenty, pleasure and power?

Not surprisingly, what Iyer found attractive in Japan was precisely the opposite of what many of us find attractive, even seductive, in the West. “Unlike in Britain and the United States, where I grew up, the citizens of my adopted home are encouraged, even more than elsewhere in Confucian Asia, to be quiet, to remain invisible, to try to look and sound like everyone else. The one thing others don’t much need, they know is the loud impress of personality. Since I’d been trained to babble, I thought, when choosing to move to Japan, that it might be a good thing to go somewhere where I could learn to listen. Since I’d been encouraged at school to try to be an individual, it didn’t seem a terrible thing to learn to be quite typical. Becoming myself, I realized might not involve anything more than becoming more like everyone around me.” (2)

Throwing in our two-cents on transcendence we would like to politely point to Iyer’s irresistible insights. “Becoming myself [his True self], I realized might not involve anything more than becoming more like [all people are fundamentally exactly alike] everyone around me” [we are all a part of one indivisible community, the paradigm of Oneness].

Perhaps Pico Iyer had an experience in Japan somewhat like that which Ralph Waldo Emerson had in America which Emerson called the realization of the “Oversoul.” Click on the link below for Emerson’s definition of that experience.

Insight # 152:  You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.  –Winston Churchill

Link:

References:

  1. Bowles, Nellie. “Silicon Valley Goes to Therapy,” The New York Times Business, September 22, 2019, page 6.
  2. Iyer, Pico. “The Beauty of the Ordinary,” The New York Times Sunday, September 22, 2019, page 7.

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