I read, or heard somewhere - most likely heard, which is what fuels my apathy for validating the information - that a particular treatment for certain types of mental illness is to be driven at speed in an open-topped vehicle of some kind, with the face exposed to the rushing wind. The theory, or at least the version I've reconstructed in my mind, is that the sensation of the wave of air buffeting against their skin will in some way reinforce, redefine, or rationalise the boundary between their physical and psychological existence.
Many scraps of knowledge have, through my meandering interests, drifted past me, but I am always fascinated by the ones that resurface after years submerged in the deep-sea trench of my unconscious, and this is just such a snippet. Why it should bob to the surface now, I have no idea. Neither am I at all sure of the accuracy of my recollection of it. But the notion of defining one's existential locus through the galvanisation of one's physical boundaries is intriguing enough to ruminate over for a few paragraphs - especially within the popularly alienating context of the internet.
You see, one could argue that it is the internet that finally offers a kind of boundary-less malaise to all of us, irrespective of our metal health. This theory is given shape in Thomas de Zengotita's book, Mediated, where he argues that the post modern human condition casts us as narcissistic, temporary beings, who are so adept at consuming the web and the media in order to form our existences, that we appear set adrift in a bewildering sea of choices, made exponentially more numerous by the knowledge that whatever choice we make, we can always change our mind.
This notion that we no longer have to stick with the hand that we are dealt, whilst liberating us and stimulating us, must surely depreciate the value of any choice we make. Ours is a generation of online, international window shoppers. Each of us endowed with the ability to instantly quench any craving for information we might have in the privacy of our own browser window. It is the antithesis of the era of permanence, 'knowing your place' and 'accepting your lot' that earlier generations grew up in. We have been handed carte blanche to develop ourselves into whatever we want to be, but this means the pressure is on us to be creative enough to conceive this ideal notion of ourselves. Creativity tends to bring out the self effacing, insecure side of all but the clinically egotistical, so can we really ever be happy with what we've made?
In the [creative] industry that I work in, it is widely considered that a narrow brief is more stimulating than a boundless one. These restrictions act as the wind on our cheeks, something to resist and define our edges. Perhaps our personalities need the same kind of limitations. Rebellion needs something against which to rebel, and it is times of necessity and flux that generate a need for growth and fuels our creativity. So are the free and liberating conditions of our online emancipation fertile grounds for the formation of creative and sincere personalities at all? Or are we stabbing aimlessly in the vast vacuum of a limitless existence? It seems that the internet is expanding so rapidly that is gives us the sensation of speed, that our lives are hurrying along with it, but perhaps this is just an illusion. Perhaps it is only the internet that is moving and expanding, whereas we are just orbiting along its edge.
So what, I wonder, is the remedy to this state of affairs? What vehicle do we board to ram our faces into a fast moving, life affirming stream of air? Well, curiously enough - considering my penchant for leaving my analogies and metaphors stranded above the tide-line of reality - I suspect by logging-off, stepping outside, and actually feeling the breeze against our faces, or the sun on our backs. Whatever makes us feel that merely existing represents a welcome respite from the endless hours spent at the helm of Facebook, sculpting our personalities.