Conquering Fears, Modern problems, Self development

Freedom Oh dear Freedom

No Comments

Freedom is good, right? Who could possibly deny that freedom is something everyone should aim to? The free world, the one simple value revolutionaries are willing to die for.

If I’d ask you, what does it mean to be free, do you have a good answer? If not, how can you possibly claim that you are a free man or woman?

Freedom is the core subject of Epictetus writings. Not strange at all, given his condition of slavery. Who would be better to talk about the subject than him, knowing it first-hand?

Our master is anyone (or anything I might add) who has the power to implement or prevent the things that we want or don’t want. Whoever wants to be free, therefore, should wish for nothing or avoid nothing that is up to other people. Failing that, one is bound to be a slave. Epictetus

The only truly free man, according to the Stoics, is the philosopher. Hard claim isn’t it? Any knowledgeable person is a slave then, you can only be free through philosophy. And why, precisely, is that? Why do only philosophers are granted the beautiful gift of freedom?

Two types of freedom.

Negative freedom is,roughly, a matter of which doors lie open to you, it is concerned exclusively with opportunities;positive freedom is a question of whether or not you can go through the doors,whether you are master of your life. Pravin Raj (original idea by Isaiah Berlin, Two concepts of Liberty)

The free person knows his choices and knows his alternatives, he has the knowledge of what freedom truly entails, therefore he is wise.

A slave-minded person will judge all the possibilities and alternatives he has and get mad because he is not free to choose anything he likes, this is negative freedom, the freedom you do not have control upon, therefore he will always be a slave to circumstance.

This reminds me of Erich Fromm:

“Modern man lives under the illusion that he knows ‘what he wants,’ while he actually wants what he is supposed to want. In order to accept this it is necessary to realize that to know what one really wants is not comparatively easy, as most people think, but one of the most difficult problems any human being has to solve. It is a task we frantically try to avoid by accepting ready-made goals as though they were our own.” 
― Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom

Isn’t this our predicament? Being free is not for the faint-hearted. A free person must develop independent thinking, he must be free entirely.

This is why courage is one of the stoic cardinal virtues, you will need courage if you are willing to be a free man.

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.”
― Epictetus

Are you willing to be free? The path to freedom begins inside and ends inside, where you have control. Practice, practice, practice. Know the difference between what is under your direct control and what is not, this is the first step for living a stoic life, and the first step to achieving freedom.

Are you ready to be free?

Subscribe and receive for free the Askesis ebook to further develop your practice of stoicism. 

Subscribe here

Become our Patreon and enjoy the patron only benefits! You can find more on our Patreon page. Thanks a lot for reading and I hope stoicism makes your life better, I’m sure it will.

Want to further your knowledge? Complement your reading with Stop the courting.

Support Stoic Answers

Help us spread stoicism around the world


Conquering Fears, Modern problems, philosophy, Self development, Stoic advice, Uncategorized

Breaking free from social media slavery

1 Comment

I’ve been wondering lately, what does it really mean according to nature?

There is a superbly grotesque episode in Black Mirror that depicts the perfect world of girl black mirrorsocial validation, at its purest. The episode depicts the story of a girl living in this socially “impeccable” world and her struggle in trying to belong. “Belonging” is measured just like in Uber, you get reviews from your peers for every social interaction you have, it can be one up to 5 stars. This, obviously creates a world of falsehood in which every person only cares about the “person” she or he is in this social app.

This episode is obviously based on our current social reality in which our care goes directly into the person or identity that we believe we are and that is constantly reinforced or punished through social media. Directly measured through the number of likes or hearts we get on Instagram or Facebook. Manic.

social mediaI found this new social situation quite angering, to be honest. Our need for belonging is very extreme, just look at how much we care! And it is being exploited without the tiniest bit of shame.

Who are we when we are not so preoccupied with “striving to be the identity we have created for ourselves in social media”?

Is there anything real left in us living this way? What about every other aspect of our lives? Like when we wake up in the morning and see ourselves in the mirror, pretty ugly-looking? Or when we eat alone and clean our hands in our pants? Or when we are alone in our room, raining outside, thinking nostalgically about our existence here? Is it really so bad to try to be the person we strive to be in social media? I mean, at least we have an idea of what we should be and fight to attain it? Fake it til you make it? I don’t think so.

The problem with social media is that the identity created there is as fake as a player in a video game. A player in a video game reveal “just” a few things. Typically, the desirable attributes, like courage or handsomeness and charm. It is specially crafted to be “ideal”.

A human being is an extremely complex creature. We cry, we love, and we are sad about things that should make us happy. We are so much more complex than the simplistic identity we figure ourselves to be in social media, and we forget or want to forget it because of “likes and hearts”.

The person in social media feeds itself of social validation, therefore, the end and the goal of the identity created in social media is validation itself, everything else is used as a mean in obtaining this precious validation. Hence, any activity of the real life is used as a means for obtaining the validation our social persona needs to feed.

When you go out and eat, supposing you are living through this social facade, which I’m instagramsure you are, at least sometimes, you are not really eating and conversing, you are thinking about the socially reinforced idea of how your food and hell, even your conversation should look like. You are forcing it. You are not letting the conversation or reality happen because you expect it to be some predetermined way. There is nothing original here, just an aspiring to do something, never actually doing something. 


This is just the opposite of living according to nature. Nature does not aspire to be stuff as we do, nature just is stuff, and nature “is” magnificently.


This mountain is not bothering about how to be a mountain, it just is a mountain, just look at the good job it is doing.

How can you aspire to be a good carpenter if you are not doing the job, but instead thinking about how you look while being a carpenter? Do you guess you need equipment or a good carpenter “look” for a good selfie to be a good carpenter, no, what you need is to work on the wood and do it right.

The end of nature is the action itself, not how you look or what others think while doing2700 it. The end in your life should be your every moment and yourself, not the non-existent facade we manufacture every moment. All must be accepted, flaws and boredom, joy and

sadness, real is always better than fake.

This practice is extremely hard because it is now something that we don’t do naturally. When we eat, when we chat, when we socialize, we are no longer there. Everything has become a means to the end of satisfying the social validation need of our fake personas.

We are in the age of anxiety and suicide because of this. But there is a way out, which is quite simple, and it is making our life the end, not the means.

Nature is constantly growing. Imitate it. Focus your attention on what you are doing, be it working, having a conversation, having fun, exercising or writing and let what may need to happen, happen. Do not focus on how you look, but how you do and are what you are doing.

Every moment and everything that you are making is infinitely more important than the need to post it. Learn this, and you’ll be free again.

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” Marcus Aurelius

Subscribe and receive for free the Askesis ebook to further develop your practice of stoicism. 

Subscribe here

Visit our Patreon page for more stoic, Patreon only content. Thanks.


Let’s use social media for something helpful, shall we? Help the world by spreading Stoicism, pay just $9 and gift a Mexico City person a copy of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I’ll send you an email so you can write a personal message and the photo will be uploaded to the Stoic Answers page.


Donation for the cause

A stoic boldly leaps into life, he does not question himself whether to act or not, the decision has already been made, we want to help you become a stoic. Thanks for the support