#FreewriteFriday: What is the meaning of life

What is the meaning of life?

“At least three times every day take a moment and ask yourself what is really important. Have the wisdom and the courage to build your life around your answer.” ― Lee Jampolsky

We lead busy lives. Caught between work and home; juggling the needs of our family; and the incessant noise from addictive social media platforms clamoring for our attention, we often end up numbing out by binge watching serials on Netflix. It’s just so much easier to give in to the siren song of these companies after all.

And why wouldn’t it be easy? All of these companies – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Netflix – use subtle and not-so-subtle psychology to keep us constantly scrolling and addicted to their platforms. We’ve become used to the instant gratification of a flurry of likes as soon as we post that photograph on Instagram, or to finding the next awesome series on Netflix.

That’s their entire business model. It is how they remain in existence, these behemoths of social media and online entertainment, to whom we trade our hours, our energy, our data, willingly and without a care.

But when – if – we stop to think; how many hours of our life have we traded away to these platforms? To these impersonal digital bits and bytes that offer us likes and retweets and comments and engaging content in return for our most precious, most finite commodity: time.

What is the meaning of life: to consume content, or create it?

What we have become is incessant consumers of content. What we have lost in the process is our ability to create – not just content, no, but also meaning. And that is the most soul sucking, gut wrenching, heart numbing loss. Because when – if – we stop and come up for breath, and look at our life as it has passed us by, we will be hard pressed to say what it all meant.

We binge watched Sacred Games and gathered likes and comments on photographs from our family vacations, but what did we create? A job where we spent our hours in exchange for money; some memories from family holidays and gatherings {increasingly captured on the phone and for social media}. And what else? What was the meaning of this existence…of life?

Is that the sum total of our lives: a list of the series we binge watched and a tally of the likes we collected?

And I circle back to the quote that prompted this freewrite:

“At least three times every day take a moment and ask yourself what is really important. Have the wisdom and the courage to build your life around your answer.” ― Lee Jampolsky

Wisdom and courage. Courage and wisdom.

The wisdom to understand why we are addicted to social media: it’s more than the algorithm and the psychological manipulation. What are we avoiding? What are we brushing under the carpet? What has us so scared that we are willing to stagnate instead of pushing ever forward?

Courage, because it takes courage to buck the trend. We don’t have to quit social media or cut the Netflix subscription. But we have to have the courage to step out of FOMO {the fear of missing out} and into JOMO {the joy of missing out}. To have the courage to uncover what we want to achieve in life and to then go after it with single-minded focus. It may mean we have nothing to contribute to the coffee machine conversation on Sacred Games. But it will also mean that we will be building up our lives in a way that nourishes us, that feels good and vital and fresh.

And isn’t that why we are here? To live rich, meaningful, full lives.

But what is a meaningful life?

What is the meaning of life?

Philosophers across the ages have tried to answer this question. The one that comes immediately to mind is by classical Greek philosopher Socrates, who famously said that the unexamined life is not worth living. What this means to me is that simply having a goal or an intention doesn’t have any inherent value or meaning. It is reflecting on why that goal is important that brings meaning to our life. And uncovering that why is the way to break out of the hamster wheel of the social media cycle we seem to be caught in these days.

So when I have my why, why do I still find myself caught in that social media hamster wheel?

Ah, and there it is, my old friend, fear. Welcome to the table. Let’s have a chat, you and I.

Before you leave me to my conversation with my old friend, fear, tell me this: What is your why? What does a meaningful life mean to you? And are you building your life around the things that are really important to you? 

I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa.

Posted in Soulful living.

22 Comments

  1. Yes you said everything true and practical. We are constantly running in life, for things and money. Wisdom and courage are very important things you have mentioned. Spreading help and happiness should be one of the important aspects of life.

  2. This is exactly how our lives have become, somewhere we realise the truth so there is some amount of wisdom but it takes a backseat and courage to take some steps also.

  3. Couldn’t agree more, Shinjini. Most of us seem to be caught in the social media hampster wheel. And yet, what are we doing about it? Nothing. Wonder how and when we lost all our philosophical ponderings that would make us question the lives we lead. A very thought-provoking post, Shinjini.

    • Yes, and I think as bloggers we tend to get even more caught up in it. Not to deny how powerful these mediums can be, but when they start ruling us, then instead of being tools for communication, they’ve become our masters.

  4. So much truth in your post. We go after social media and busy ourselves in pursuits that don’t add any value to our lives.

    If only we have uncluttered time in our lives, we can reflect on what truly has purpose for us.

  5. Fomo to JOMO: yes you are absolutely right. in fact we know that something is going wrong. something is missing but somewhere our will power is not so strong to stop all these things

  6. Yes actually we are living lives that is dependent on approval of others.. we are actually busy making content for approval.

  7. Your posts are always such a pleasure to read! “At least three times every day take a moment and ask yourself what is really important. Have the wisdom and the courage to build your life around your answer.” ― Lee Jampolsky – I am going to do this from today onwards. Thank you so much for writing such an amazing post!
    Keep writing such informative posts. #MyFriendAlexa #DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter

  8. True! Life is filled with questions and when you don’t get answers, you think something is wrong. The youngsters/college and newly employed are caught up, The others are realizing the concept of Fomo and Jomo,
    That’s life, if we knew all is fine, there would be no enthusiasm. Let’s enjoy the ride.

  9. Very well written post and gaving a meaningful life is something we need to struve for . Otherwise all time would pass without anything to show for all these years we need to do what we love doing

  10. It’s very important to take regular break from social media to make life more meaningful, That’s an intriguing read, Loved the post and your unique writing style.

Leave a Reply