The world is sleeping.
Even though it's clicking, liking and sharing, interaction on a deeper human level is lacking for many of us. Rates of loneliness and depression are rising in the Western world ( Data) even though our connectedness is better than ever before.
According to a 2013 article in Canadian publication The Globe and Mail, 25 percent of Canadians say they feel lonely. In the United States, 40 percent of people say they feel lonely, a number which has doubled in the past 30 years.
Zombies are fictional, of course — they're mindless, reanimated human corpses with a hunger for human flesh. Anyone who's seen an episode of The Walking Dead knows what we're talking about.
But in today's society, we're becoming more like the zombies we see stumbling around on our television screens. We resemble the living dead in the way we are present with our family or friends, but so far removed as we gaze into our phones and scroll through Facebook and Instagram posts, hardly aware we're surrounded by humans who love us.
Meanwhile, we're fighting obesity, depression and loneliness even though we have a gym on every corner and healthy food on the shelves of our local stores. Why do we feel so disconnected and distant in such a connected world? Why are we living like the dead?
The Science Behind Our Loneliness
There's a reason why we go into a zombie-like coma after using social media, and Facebook in particular. A study by two German universities showed that 1 out of every 3 people using Facebook "feel worse after visiting the site and feel more dissatisfied with their lives."
Another study showed users with low self-esteem and high narcissism use Facebook more frequently, for longer periods of time and post more self-promotional material.
Eventually, with enough scrolling, posting and liking we become unconscious of our own mental patterns and choices.We are running on autopilot, and for many, it creates a mental state I like to call "zombie".
Here's a checklist to determine if you or a loved one is turning into a zombie:
1. You're sleeping through everyth…zzzzz"¦..
You don't like your life, the people in it, or yourself, so you switch your brain into off mode. Autopilot. Time-lapse wonderland.
Suddenly you find out you have no idea how this week, month and year — or a decade, if you're a pro zombie — disappeared.
You escape life through daydreaming, addictions, overeating, and anything else you can find to numb out the noise of reality. You silence your emotion, too, which is the tuning fork to by which we experience reality in real time.
2. Narrow focus
Modern-day zombies don't waste their energy on trying to be happy — it's too costly and draining. Instead, they use reptile reasoning to make it through the day. Like an alligator, snake or other creepy/slimy ground dweller, their interactions with the world are focused on three thoughts:
Can I eat it?
Can I have sex with it?
Will it kill me?
We're not kidding when we say reptile brain, either. Experts call it the "old brain", an ancient part of your mind linked to our basic human instincts.
Behavioral science specialist Susan Weinschenk says "the job of your old brain is to constantly scan the environment and answer the questions: "˜Can I eat it? Can I have sex with it? Will it kill me?' That's really all the old brain cares about: food sex and danger."
If this focus gets too extreme, addictions get added to the list and you take your zombieness to another level, cutting out empathy and self-respect to support a habit that makes your brain and body addicted to escaping reality.
3. Reality Check
You may not be a zombie by technical definition, but you pretty much try to eat people alive when they point out your strange, act-like-the-dead behavior. Do any of these sound like you?
You get angry when people remind you about your behavior or lifestyle.
You are scared of change, and since you can't control your mind, you react to fear with anger.
You lack true empathy because empathy does not support your own behavior.
You attack others, gossip and lie in order to support your mindset.
You are insanely jealous of people who have things you want because it reminds you of the reality you want.
4. Zombified Responses: Run, Attack or Denial
Zombies don't like to be confronted about their behavior. Since they are in reptile brain mode, they see questions about their behaviors as an attack. Only two responses exist: attack, or run.
To simplify a complex world, you make blueprints to handle situations that are meant to wake you from your zombie state.
5. Zombies Are Your Only Friends
You love like-minded zombies who mimic your (supremely low) level of enthusiasm and do not challenge your beliefs, thoughts, or pattern of behaviors.
You lack coping mechanisms to make friends with honest non-zombies, so anytime anyone criticizes you, you go into full zombie-attack mode, hungry for warm flesh and the death of all who dare point out your zombieness.
Misery loves zombie company, right?
6. No Mindfulness
You have little or no ability to concentrate or meditate .. it's a waste of time, and it's for non-zombies who are spiritual or into some weird alternative world.
You hate mindfulness because it takes your head out of the sand and makes you uncomfortable. Your goal is to numb your feelings and keep yourself removed from reality. Your number one focus is to binge on video games, TV, food, drug/alcohol addictions and anything else that can remove you from the unpleasant human world.
Your dream is to get home from work so you can do absolutely nothing.
Your entire identity is trapped in a uncontrolled, unaware zombie state filled with limiting beliefs that scare you so much you shut off even more of your conscious mind and your brain goes into permanent autopilot. Denial of reality is the main force behind your zombieness.
7. Emotional Vampire
You eat others' energy like it was warm flesh. After all, you stopped believing in your own passion and purpose a long time ago and settled into your bitter way of life.
When meeting people who have positive energy, you eat them alive or put them down because you feel scared and insecure they're actually alive.
You get happy when someone falls to your level and indulges in zombie misery. You feel more connected with them especially if they also like to bury their days in a mountain of junk food, cigarette butts, drugs and a handsome sprinkling of empty beer cans. As in every zombie movie, you won't attack someone who is "one of you".
Big City, Big Zombie Problems
Traveling around the world last year, I saw a lack of zombies in Costa Rica and a serious concentration of them in New York. How is that even possible?! You'd think a third-world country with less resources and less education should be more zombified than the culture capital of the world. But, it's not. Why?
Costa Rica is a place where the people live in the moment. They aren't controlled by money or time or fear. Or Facebook. Or media and television. They spend time outside, focusing on friends and family in real-time and not through Facebook or Skype.
New York, on the other hand, is the complete opposite.
Endless options make people numb. The brain stops working. The ego takes over. Our lives become plastic and fake. Deep human connections are lost. Zombies rise up from their life-graves and devour the living.
The bigger city, the bigger the community of zombies.
Zombiness is a disease. We get addicted to the mindset of being mindless. Of being in off mode. Of escape. Of demolishing mindfulness. And we lose sight of working toward a life we cherish, love and desire.
A Quick Zombie Checklist
Think of these questions in the context of what happened yesterday. If you answer no to any of these questions, seek human interaction immediately:
Do you remember what you did last day?
Do you remember what you ate?
Do you remember who you connected with?
Did you get a hug or did people avoid you (Run away?)
Did you see any nature, flowers or people and feel connected in that moment?
Do you go "offline" when you eat, and suddenly see you have eaten everything.
Do you get annoyed by support and guidance?
Four Ways To Cure Yourself from Zombieism
Are you a modern-day zombie? There is a cure. In fact, there are things you can practice every day that will snap you out of your undead state.
Zombies are mindless. Mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness.
A mindful life might be very unpleasant in the beginning and your reptile brain might tell you that embracing reality is way more boring that food, sex and survival. I promise, your new mindfulness won't kill you.
The more zombie you've become, the more mindfulness you require. Unlatching that brain of yours from your piles of reality-robbing addictions and plugging into the real world is exactly what you need.
There's a reason why you never see a zombie movie where the undead do yoga, hug a friend (without trying to maul them like a wild dog) or smile just because they felt like it. Zombies are busy feeding the numbed beast within.
You can get a head start on self-love by determining your purpose in life, that thing which makes you jump out of bed in the morning (human flesh not included).
To figure out your purpose, take a look at the stuff in your life you embraced to keep yourself locked in zombie world — job, partner, friends, habits, etc. Find a way out that doesn't involve self-hate, self-harm or daydreaming.
Then, practice the three P's:
Find a purpose you love
Find passions you love
Find the people you love who will support your mission to unzombify yourself.
Once you'll do this, you'll start to feel the very unzombie feeling of love for and from your authentic friends. You'll realize the power of being loved by people who love you for who you are and are willing to let you be whoever you want to be.
You'll become aware of and connected to your mind, body and soul — this is self-love
Honesty and Trust
You wouldn't trust a zombie, right? Honesty — being real and authentic — totally kills the zombie lifestyle. Honest people are trustworthy.
An honest life is built on a real foundation, not a bunch of false fronts and deceptions. I'm not going to lie — once you start leading an honest life, your zombie friends will run for their live because they do not like the sound of authenticity
It scares the crap out of them because they don't know how to mirror authenticity in themselves.
4. Reduce Your Ego
Ego-driven people make the perfect zombie because they eat people alive. Their need to make everything about them goes back to the desires of the reptile brain – food, sex and survival.
Of course, you don't want to a reptilian-brained zombie, right? So make sure your heart is bigger than your ego, and awake to experience all the great things zombies can't see, hear or feel because they're walking through life in zombie mode.
If you need less ego, participate in activities which focus on others, not yourself: charity, support groups, a friend who needs your help or even a movie that makes you feel connected with the world in a bigger sense.
Do everything you can to train the empathy nerve that zombies numb or ignore. When empathy is triggered, the heart is growing, which is a good thing. A big heart doesn't just cure zombieism, it makes your whole life more warm, loving and meaningful.
Some video strategies that will help you break out of Zombie lifestyle: