The bio: Jason Silva is a futurist, philosopher, filmmaker, and host of National Geographic Channel’s “Brain Games.”
How I found him: Everything started with a petty observation I had while watching the said show: “Hey, look. This host is cute.” And you know what happens after a comment like that. You instantly google the guy to see what else he’s up to, you fall into the abyss of non-ending stream of links, and voila, you find a whole new world to discover. I ended up watching a video (and another, and another…) on his Youtube channel “Shots of Awe,” where he philosophizes about the future, creativity, imagination, love, and even death, among others. Anyone who sees at least one video from that channel will surely get awestruck.
Why he makes the Internet a better place: Because he thinks the Internet is indeed a magical place! I don’t see a lot of people who are very optimistic about the future and technology in general. Even a quick browse in your news feed would usually lead you to articles suggesting how, say, artificial intelligence could take over the world and spew catastrophe—which actually seems possible (thanks to Netflix series Black Mirror‘s artful imagining of the potential dangers of technology) but is not the only possible outcome. You can use fire to burn your enemies or to cook food, I remember Jason saying in one of his videos.
Also, social media can get really, really toxic with everyone sending their thoughts out into the void without control nor warning, so it’s always refreshing to hear at least one voice that reminds you to always be in awe of life itself. I especially love it when I get a Facebook notification saying Jason is going live. When I click it, there he is recording himself going on a mind-trip with a friend and just spontaneously talking about life and death and how art and love can temporarily serve as our religion—probably even an antidote—to our own anticipated decay. At the end of it, you find yourself getting drunk in awe and wonder. And just like that—through eavesdropping on a deep conversation from some part of the world miles away from where you are through a “digital wormhole”—the mundanity of your day becomes more bearable.
What he taught me: With every “philosophical espresso shot” that I watch, I feel like I become born again with a fresh perspective about life and the little things. I start seeing nature in its pure poetic beauty as it would be depicted in the videos themselves. I begin to understand people differently—why they cry, why they fall in love, why they create art, and how doing so can “save” them in some way.
The major takeaway: We are faced with one certain outcome: death. The period between being born and that sure-fire eventual decay is this thing called life. How do we make the most out of it? We live by following our bliss. We engage in things that bring us “cognitive ecstasy.” We consume art. We love. We remain in awe of life. We appreciate and improve what we humans can do with our hands. We must, as Dylan Thomas said, “rage, rage against the dying of the light.” That’s how we live.
Where you can find him: @jasonsilva on Twitter; /JasonLSilva on Facebook and Instagram; thisisjasonsilva.com for his website; “Shots of Awe” on Youtube (And I wish he had a podcast, too!)
What you should check out as soon as you finish reading this:“Shots of Awe” on Youtube, of course! My favorites include The Instagram Generation, Existential Bummer, We Don’t Cry Because We’re Sad, Happiness Lives In The New, FOMO: The Fear Of Missing Out, and Why We Explore. These videos with Silva and Neil deGrasse Tyson arguing about what makes life life and Silva explaining the miracle of life to a cute baby also make me cry happy tears.
The wonderful thing about opening your eyes to this kind of thinking is that you can never go back to being blind, so to speak. When you experience awe as a constant feeling—something that is as natural and effortless as blinking—you basically allow yourself to live your life differently, probably more fully.
How I Met My Mentor is a series of posts about individuals who have provided no-nonsense and awe-inspiring content amid the noise polluting the World Wide Web. It is my hope that these so-called digital mentors serve as a reminder that there is no such thing as “too much internet” when you’re talking about great content.
If you have a digital mentor in mind whose work you think should be shared with the world, shoot me an email using the contact form embedded in this website.
To read my previous How I Met My Mentor post featuring goal setting mentor Arriane Serafico, click here.