(The) End of Absence: #A-Z Challenge
“Absence isn’t going to return to us easily. Just as we decide to limit our intake of the sugars and fats that we’re designed to hoard, we now must decide to sometimes keep at bay the connectivity we’re hardwired to adore. We must remain as critical of technological progress as we are desirous of it…Every technology will alienate you from some part of your life. That is its job. Your job is to notice. First notice the difference. And then, every time, choose.”
If you were born before 1985, you know what life was like before the Internet. But it’s understandable if you have forgotten those days. Just consider this chart of what happened digitally every sixty seconds last year:
You will find more infographics at Statista
What Are We Losing?
Harris isn’t a Luddite.
Technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral.Melvin Kranzberg
In our world of constant connection, some of the things we are losing include:
- comfort with the solitude that is necessary for new ideas and personal replenishment.
- the ability to live with a question until the answer becomes apparent. We want to know NOW.
- the creative leaps and intuitions that come from dumb accidents and cross-pollination, rather than “algorithmic surety.”
- the range of perspectives that help us to think more broadly and deeply. Search engines and social media networks curate to feed us what we want and what we’re used to.
What Can We Do?
Harris recommends “Going Walden” after Thoreau’s experiment to “live more deliberately.” Go without all screens for a weekend. End the constant connection. See what happens when you stop filling up the silences. (Note: I plan to Go Walden on Sunday, our first day off from the A-Z challenge. Sue, from Sizzling Towards Sixty, does this and says it’s wonderfully freeing.)
When Harris, a busy journalist, tried this experiment for an entire month, he noticed that he was irritated by friends who paused conversations with him in order to reply to incoming text messages. Interestingly, his biggest problem wasn’t with the pauses in the conversation. It was “with the dullness of the conversations such fractures produce. A divided self is simply not a worthwhile thing to focus on.”
What have you lost and gained in our world of constant connection? Have you ever tried Going Walden? Would you?