Dark Web Matters

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I was reading an article the other night on the dark web, which had the infographic above to illustrate the vastness of those places that are largely unseen on the Internet. It struck me then how this parallels our minds, our identities and the parts of ourselves that are relegated to the dark places we hope no one will uncover, where our shame lies, quietly fomenting.

Hold up for a second – how did I get to the dark web in the first place? It’s a journey down a rabbit hole that is a perfect illustration of what is above and what is below, of where our mind curiously wanders when we allow it to stray. I’m not saying a straying mind is good or bad, it just is, and when the world is available to explore through the curated chaos of the web, that meander can lead to ascent or decent in equal freefall.

 My rabbit hole run was signposted thusly one evening at the non nanna bed time of 10.30pm: It started with meditation on my meditation app, definitely a clear web no parental advisory required activity. While meditating, I was distracted by thinking about a recipe I wanted to veganise and when I finished with oms,  moved to nom noms on Pinterest to look it up.

While tooling around on Pinterest I saw an interesting tattoo, followed the link to the artist, saw an intriguing image of a barber with his face tattooed as a clown on the site, searched for info on who he was and why he went down the clown face tattoo route, finished an article on him and at the end was a link to another article on men masquerading as women on social media and getting away with it – quell horror.

The author of that article had written another article with the title ‘How much money can you make selling illegal drugs on the dark web.’ I read that article (clearly as a bootstrapping entrepreneur I need a Plan B if my capital raising for SciGround doesn’t come off) I know scant amounts if nothing about the dark web, so I  clicked through a link at the end of the drug money piece to a beginners guide to the dark web.

Here, I learned more than I ever needed to know confirming the depths of the human condition and discovered the infographic that made me circle back to meditating and how we use that as a tool to keep our mind in check. From bodhisattva in training to dark web drug dealing aspirant in a handful of clicks. There I was, being human again.

Seriously though (don’t do or sell drugs kids to finance your tech builds m’kay?) this is a parallel for all of us. We spend our time locked and loaded to keep our acceptable façade erected and engaged, our orderly bodies participating in socially sanctioned ways, and move through life trying to be the clean web. But we are all clean web to deep web to dark web. The deep web is our inner narrative, our non-public face, our personal intranets where we organise and run our mind and our lives in a largely non-offensive network of knowledge and routine that has been learned since birth and forms the software that runs our mainframes.

 Our dark web are our shame bodies, where we bury those parts of ourselves that we disavow, those thoughts that might blow the lid off the carefully curated identity that we allow out everyday for public consumption. Brene Brown has researched and written extensively about shame, and how its internalisation corrupts our capacity to be vulnerable humans.

Her thesis is that until as individuals and a society we are able to be courageous about who we are, and that our entirety is worthy of celebration and acknowledgement, we will continue to create armoured bodies and minds that cruel any chance we have of living a life that is whole hearted.

 While the actual dark web is a hot house of things wholly unable to be unseen and largely untenable, our interior dark web is a construct of our mind.  It features all the things that we believe transgress social norms, and as mentioned, all the shame we have collected over the years from our parents, peers, institutions and the world at large, packaged neatly away where the light don’t shine. Unventilated and uninterrogated, we react to these thoughts as though to spend too much time with them we will quickly become them in a binary outcome of good and bad.

The reality is we are so much more than a binary option, and when we don’t attached shame, blame or attachment, we simply observe what the human mind is capable of and then release the thought, we disempower our dark inner webs as simply a nod to our humanity. We see them as a sliding door to the capacity for any of us all the time to take a fall, and the need for great vigilance in disciplining minds with meditation and our hearts with compassion so we can continually redirect ourselves toward thoughts, words and actions that serve ourselves and others. It’s an easy point of decision – does this help or harm any sentient being?

If the latter, it’s a hard no, if the former, a joy filled yes. There mere fact that a dark web exists is testimony to the human proclivity for suffering and base activity, and all that entails. It’s an actuality, and also a metaphor, one which can guide us to a place where openness, transparency and connection based on compassion prevails.

Caught up in the hashtag blessings and living our best lives is the reality that we all have elements of light and dark. While we strive to live in a good vibes only world, we are creating the causes and conditions for shame, pain and isolation. We are a spectrum not a binary, and to disavow those parts of us denies the very humanity from which we can integrate our selves and find compassion for our own dark matter, and that of others.


Polly McGee