On January 1, as we marched into a brand new 12 months hopeful and hungover, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey laid one on thick.
But his expression of performative spirituality got here on the actual improper time, the day earlier than President Trump used Dorsey’s platform to ship an particularly harrowing menace to North Korea about US nuclear energy.
Hours later, protesters in San Francisco have been projecting messages of Dorsey’s complicity on the outside of Twitter’s headquarters. This was the umpteenth time the Silicon Valley govt was accused of fostering a web based tradition and platform that has allowed abusive and violent language to thrive, whereas concurrently and arbitrarily censoring different speech. In his tone deaf tweet about gratitude and meditation, the CEO of an organization that facilitates and thrives on frivolous, poisonous speech on-line was touting the advantages of silence.
The tech has embraced meditation and different largely Eastern non secular practices for many years now. Successful leaders like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson have brazenly espoused the significance of those practices of their careers, whereas Mark Zuckerberg and Jeffrey Skoll have traveled to an ashram in northern India to search out their very own dose of which means.
But Dorsey’s tweet a couple of vipassana, the oldest Buddhist meditation follow, drives residence an issue with this self-proclaimed nirvana-seeking inhabitants: Silicon Valley is exploiting age-old non secular practices for the advantage of tech corporations. And it’s in direct battle with the actions of the people who find themselves main the .
Google, for instance, promotes mindfulness and applications like Search Inside Yourself, which teaches staff self consciousness and emotional intelligence, utilizing methods like—shock—meditation. But Google staff have additionally complained of being overworked and unimaginably confused. Replacing safer and more healthy work requirements with meditation is only a fancy means, it appears, of turning a industry-wide concern into a person downside.
Silicon Valley is exploiting age-old non secular practices for the advantage of tech corporations.
The extra tech appears to embrace spirituality, the upper the worth tag on it turns into. Vipassana is historically supplied by donation, and the retreats, if you may get a spot like Dorsey did, are technically obtainable to everybody. But different widespread getaways for the Silicon Valley crowd, like Esalen, a well-liked 50-year-old personal retreat, can imply spending 1000’s of dollars, even should you deliver your personal sleeping bag.
Of course, the extra tech corporations promote meditation and spirituality, the extra additionally they stand to realize from their very own shiny model of superconsciousness, or highest non secular potential. The meditation and mindfulness “” was value $1 billion in 2015, based on Fortune, with dozens of meditation apps and companies. And it’s solely rising: former Twitter VP Ross Hoffman is now the chief enterprise officer at Headspace, the largest meditation app in the marketplace. And Kevin Rose, tech investor and founding father of Digg and Milk, introduced his new meditation app, Oak, in October.
“It might be an excellent addition to the various different meditation apps you may be utilizing immediately,” Rose wrote in a Medium publish, acknowledging the redundancy. “I’ve discovered by means of my research of Zen, Vipassana, and Transcendental Meditation that it’s greatest to strive completely different strategies and select the one which works greatest at that second in time.”
Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga usually are not unhealthy issues. In truth, they’re excellent issues. But to strip these practices of their context is to strip them of their energy and authenticity. Vipassana by itself is one tiny a part of Buddhism—there are different components, like dharma, which loosely interprets to duties and proper actions. If you need to get granular about it, it will seem that Jack Dorsey is shirking his duties by permitting for the proliferation of violence and hate speech on his platform.
Another necessary a part of Buddhist teachings, and the muse of assorted Eastern religions and non secular practices, is sangha, or neighborhood. None of those practices are supposed to be executed in a silo. But Silicon Valley focuses on individualism, and promotes utilizing meditation and mindfulness as a method of disruption, to get forward, relatively than collective development.
It’s onerous to observe a bunch of white dudes in some of the prosperous components of the nation, and presumably the world, cherry choose from historic traditions and religions and declare they’ve discovered a brand new path. But it’s even tougher to observe them use it as a distraction, a type of non secular bandage, whereas enabling precise abuse and negligence to occur on their watch.
This article sources data from Motherboard