How do we reconcile the introspection and thoughtful eccentricity, that would lead a person to visit this website, with the message of community building and sharing that we promote? By definition we have all turned our backs on the mainstream society that demands unquestioning conformity and blind faith. For many of us that means solitude, introversion, or at least some general distrust of the people around us. Certainly in the age of the internet it means reliance on the mediating barrier of our phones and laptops. How do we step outside our comfort zone to help others in a meaningful way?
We recommend reading Temporary Autonomous Zone by Hakim Bey. This 1985 text strongly influenced and inspired the founding of Demonkind, though not every word he wrote corresponds to our current message. For example his essays on chaos and ontological anarchy strike a vital fire in our hearts, but their reactionary positions sometimes conflict with our ethos. Essentially TAZ promotes the idea of creating groups, places, or systems in which people can share a creative experience, free from the programming of Big Brother, and independent from the culture of mass consumerism.
Burning Man also grew out of the TAZ premise, with many successes to their credit; unfortunately the massive financial cost of participation limited the range of people who could get involved. By contrast we hope to encourage everyone to find a way to participate in our philosophy, with practical actions in their own immediate surroundings, without class barriers. For example, instead of having a colossal art party in a remote desert, give someone a hand-written note saying how much you appreciate them; or come up with a ritual chant that you and a friend can recite in solemn tones that inevitably make you both laugh.
Bey addresses the barrier created by our phones and Facebook and such, writing:
The TAZ desires above all to avoid mediation, to experience its existence as immediate. The very essence of the affair is “breast-to-breast” as the Sufis say, or face-to-face. But, BUT: the very essence of the Web is mediation. Machines here are our ambassadors–the flesh is irrelevant except as a terminal, with all the sinister connotations of the term.
Here is a recording of Bey reading an essay entitled Immediatism, which aptly names and describes the issue (note however that other groups have also claimed that term with wildly unrelated definitions). Demonkind suggests using the internet as a tool for organizing face to face interactions, and not relying on it as the only way you relate to other people. We further suggest that you completely delete Facebook, as it fosters a culture of mediated experience, as well as tracking your every move and monetizing your existence.
But what about introverts? More than anyone else, loners must work to step out of their comfortable solitude. We create our own reality by changing our patterns and changing the way we talk to ourselves. Just because you don’t want to do something doesn’t mean you can’t do it; and further it doesn’t mean that your preference has some permanent and inviolable quality. Challenge yourself! Step out even though you know you may fall on your face. It might get awkward — but so what? You’ll find that you lived through it, and that the embarrassment or disappointment did not actually cause the world to end.
You may also find that the rewards reaped from making the effort, and the rewards of successfully helping someone else, end up far outweighing the cost of the initial discomfort. The “warm fuzzies” alone are worth the price of admission, but by making repeated efforts over time you create a system that fosters a newer, better reality for you in all aspects of your life. We grow stronger together than we do apart.
Even someone who absolutely cannot break their personal solitude can still support in a less-mediated way. You can buy art or music directly from the artist. You can write actual paper letters to your senators, congress people, or local business leaders. You can organize get-togethers for other people. You can leave surprise notes or money for others to randomly find, or buy coffee for the next person in line.
Apart from the literal togetherness of interacting immediately with people, we encourage the sense of togetherness with others in the spirit of compassion, regardless of context or short term actions. The whole point of Demonkind is that we can create a togetherness, through shared values and shared inspiration, without the regressive and reality-defying dogma of mainstream religion. We make this blessing a reality by changing the way we interact with the world around us.