I recently learned about Toltec ancient wisdom¹, and it really inspired me. Toltec is a culture that ruled southern Mexico before the Aztecs ( 900–1521 AD). They were scientists and artists known for their wisdom and knowledge.
Exploring the Toltec culture, I realized how little human struggles have changed over the centuries, and interestingly how much modern psychology resembles ancient wisdom. Despite all our advancements, it seems that we are still suffering from the same things our ancestors did. In some cases, our technology has not only not reduced our suffering but has exacerbated our pain. In this article, I attempt to apply Totlec’s wisdom to social media.
Toltec believed that domestication takes away an individual’s power by introducing the individual to a man-made “rule book” overflowing with shoulds and shouldn’ts:
- “you should follow your passion,”
- “you should work hard,”
- “you are thirty, and you should be in a stable relationship already,”
- “you shouldn’t make a fool out of yourself,”
- and many, many more.
All are engrained in our flesh because we have heard these dreams of society repeatedly. We are taught from an early age how to behave, so we are not ostracized, rejected, or hurt by others. Toltec called this rule book the first parasite of the mind. A parasite, by definition, is anything that lives off of another organism and at the expense of the host. The rule book is a parasite of the mind because hosting it imposes immense pain on us. Thanks to the following two parasites of the mind, the “judge” and the “victim,” the rule book is highly effective in making us miserable. The judge relentlessly enforces the rule book and is critical of us every time we rebel against it. The victim is the master of self-pity and the martyr of domestication. The victim immaculately completes the cycle of suffering (If these characters remind of the psychology-based animated film “Inside Out,” you are not alone).
Toltec ancient wisdom reveals the path to living an empowered, free, and fulfilled life by taking control back from the three parasites of the mind and by not feeding these parasites. The more we provide these parasites, the stronger they get and the more autonomy they will demand. Every day, we either feed the parasites or starve them with the choices we make: how to spend our time, who to hang out with, where to go, and what to invest in.
These days, many of us spend hours on social media consuming random, carefully curated content. Based on a recent study by Uswitch, an average adult spent three hours a day on social media in 2020; a 2x increase compared to 2012. But why? It’s no surprise that social media’s promise to connect the world is only marginally fulfilled. If not connecting, what are we doing on social media? The time spent on social media is not bringing us joy; thus, it is likely feeding the parasites. So how is social media feeding the parasites?
- Every time we see someone’s adventures and compare ourselves to them, the judge prevails, and the victim’s back gets more bent.
- When we portray ourselves as “perfect” to the outside world and seek the approval of spectators, the rule book is enforced.
- When we fall for the ads, brands’ promises for happiness, the rule book is amended.
Long before the advent of social media, computer-less Toltec knew that a fulfilled life is only achieved by taking power away from the parasites of the mind. By taking a good look in the mirror and honestly evaluating our choices every day, we can overcome the domestication parasites. We can gain our freedom by pondering on this question: “Are the parasites dominating now?”
 “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz