It’s spring everywhere and the green is catching up, replacing the pink in some places, proudly huffing up and claiming its rightful place on and around the branches.
A few days ago, everything was painted pink all along the streets, on the gravel but also on everyone’s phones. One can find more flowers in the electronic devices put together than the actual amount of flowers that bloomed. While everyone looks gleaming, amazed, and marveled at the cherry blossoms, I am much more amused at seeing the heads turn more than 90 degrees, from the ground to the sky, from their phones to flowers. I’ve been in Korea for almost 2 months now, but one thing that stands out here is the depth of immersion of people into their lives or into others’ lives scrolling up and down on their screens.
Here comes the brain’s spotlight in this article. Unconsciously I started finding myself doing the same some of the times, especially when I'm all alone standing awkwardly on the street. It very much contradicts the pact I’ve made with myself to look more at the colorful world and less at the bright screen. I think to myself “Sam, you know that you don’t really have anything worthy or important on your phone to check out.” I nod. Then comes the shout, “Then why do you have it in your hand?!”
Sometimes I ignored it but that nag itself never let me stray far away from it. So that’s it, I made a decision to find out why my behavior rebels against my predefined path. It goes back all the way to the early humans, where the only goal was to survive.
One of the survival mechanisms is to make sure to belong to a group as a means of protection. As everyone knows, a group takes birth from like-minded individuals. They have similar tastes, ideas, tendencies, and so on. So it's hard-wired in our brains that we have to tune in ourselves in such a way that we belong wherever we go or at least try enough to fit in there. This is why unconsciously, I mimic the being around me. And I should say I’m not liking it very much and which takes us to explain one more wonder of the brain.
All my life, I’ve never fit anywhere nor have I tried to. I always made sure to shine differently if not brightly among a pool of heads. So my conscious mind is always occupied with doing so.
On the other hand, the art of trying and belonging to a group is neatly coded into the subconscious part of the brain to which we have no access or control. Here comes the clash between the conscious brain trying to blend with the surroundings and my conscious mind trying to stand me out from the crowd. As a result, I’m facing a cognitive dissonance. Scientifically it happens when our brains hold two contradictory beefs-in my case, blending and standing out. But I like to put it this way-one part disagreeing with the other which equals to my brain disliking itself. While this concept is hard to explain to others, the introductory psychology course I took earlier helped me understand it well and thereby sorting it with ease in no time.
So whenever I find myself pulling out my phone especially when I’m out and alone, I instantly grasp that my subconscious brain and its ancient wiring are taking over the control. Sometimes I let it but other times, I give it advice to tone it down and slide my phone back into my pocket and my eyes right back to the beautiful world around me. Like me, everyone experiences dissonance every day. I just want to say, it’s okay. It’s just ancient wiring battling against modern tendencies.