disconnecting.

Last night, post-pub quiz, Liz, Daniel and I sat around the kitchen table talking.  It came up that we will all soon be out of school and must find real jobs, but none of us could imagine working a job where we couldn’t check blogs or be online consistently.

I commented that I could not be away from my email for more than a few hours…”what if something happens? I’ll be left with doing damage control for the rest of the day because I did not reply to an email within the hour?”  Liz and Daniel related.

Danson tells me not to reply to text messages late at night because people will expect me to everytime as opposed to letting it wait till morning…but I need to accessible and available, right?

I found this on HuffPo today and unfortunaly do not find myself being able to explore the freedom of disconnecting yet.

In short, despite communicating with friends and readers of my novels all over the world by e-mail, and despite being a great fan of the Web (you’re reading my blog, perhaps you’ve already visited both of my websites?) — even though I’m conversant with the theory that the Internet is in the process of uniting us all into a great big superbrain that represents the next level of consciousness evolution — I’m not convinced that the virtual world is better than the real one.

I know, I know. I can always turn off the phone, turn off the computer, retire to the garden to meditate under a tree, practice my tai chi in the park, or, my absolute favorite — saunter over to my easy chair and read a great novel. I know it’s up to me. I know it’s an issue of character and discipline. I know my electronic devices are just tools. I know they are, or should be, the slaves to my will. To your will. To our will. I know that temptation, distraction and enticement are always there, and that only people of weak will succumb to them. But even in choosing not to do something some little bit of time and energy is required, and as the number of those temptations grow, so do those packets of energy.

I worry a bit that those things that are most important to me — spending time with my family, writing my novels, doing my martial arts practice — are slowly under assault by the very gadgets that I bought to make my life easier, smoother, better. I worry that where once we made our tools, our tools are now making us. I worry that if we don’t keep this point alive and keep this dialog going we are in danger of forgetting the really deep parts of being alive in favor of the titillating trinkets of technology. I worry that when my son attends a friend’s birthday party at a video arcade and a dozen young boys spend two hours in front of screens and never so much as say a word to each other — what happened to ball games, board games, wrestling matches, parties at the beach? — something dangerous may be happening, something that benefits the companies who make these tools more than it benefits those of us who use them.

I’m not a Luddite — although I appear to be an endangered species — and I don’t want to totally drop out. I enjoy being part of an exciting new world. But at the risk of the wrath of the technorati, I’d like to suggest that perhaps a bit of balance is required, that mindfulness is fading and direct experience growing rarer by the day, and that perhaps we all need to give ourselves some of the new kind of “status” and turn everything off now and then.

What do you think?

Other HuffPo articles worth reading:

Russell Bishop: Are You Dead Or Just Comfortable?.

Hillary Rubin: Who is your Kryptonite?.

Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau: Pharma: Still Chasing Skirts. [my mom has been saying this for years]

Kimberly Brooks: America Still Screams: The Art of Liz Markus.

2009-03-16-lizmarcus1

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