How Society Colonizes Our Mind Space

Alex Mell-Taylor
11 min readAug 25, 2021

We don’t have the mental space to do things that matter.

Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

I spend so much of my time on numbers. I worry about how much I am spending. I fret over bills and filing taxes and whether or not I can meet a healthcare deductible. I look at my retirement accounts and chart out the thin red line on my computer screen, looking at a date decades into the future when I might not have to worry as much about money.

I then am pulled to the present and worry about the numbers for my job. I pore over click rates and read times. I study SEO optimizations and organic marketing strategies. I keep spreadsheets upon spreadsheets of application deadlines, hoping that this next listing will push me over the edge for that day, month, or year.

On my groggiest days, I do not have much mental and emotional space left. If I have time, I will watch a TV Show, send a quick meme to a friend, or play a video game. Sometimes I spend so much of my time thinking about these numbers and dates that I can’t go to sleep. I play them over and over again in my mind until my legs twitch and I struggle to breathe. I pound my fist against my chest, hoping to clear my mind — to push the white noise of facts and obligations outside my body into the world where they belong.

In the process of all this worry, I neglect many things I truly care about: I miss the ability to sit in on meetings for my local city council or activist organization; passion projects wither; birthdays pass me by; plans go by the wayside.

We are taught that this society improves our lives, and in some tangible ways, it does, but more often than not, it demands our time in exchange. We are forced to entertain so many useless endeavors so that we can live, and in the process, all of us lose out on the space not only to work on things that we enjoy but labor that could benefit society as a whole.

Chances are that you worry about the same numbers that I do. In the States, most of us fret about taxes and healthcare costs because not doing so will cost you even more time and money down the line. If you don’t figure out how to optimize your tax bill or spend hours researching healthcare plans, assuming you are even given the privilege to spend this time at all, it can cost you hundreds, maybe even thousands of…