10.03.16 | Internet Addiction
Addiction is a strong word but start with the numbers. In ten years smartphone ownership went from zero to two-thirds of all Americans, 85% if you’re just including young adults. A 2015 study showed these young adults used their phones five hours a day. Owner percentages alone don’t tell whole story but consider this: almost half of Americans told Pew surveyors they could not live without one. Unknown to indispensable in a decade.
We’re learning that this indispensability comes at a cost. Our Faustian bargain for this always-wired world — hyper-connecting, hyper-distracting, hyper-intruding, and hyper-demanding — is kind of enslavement. The gods have rendered unto us the miracles of efficiency. A part of our humanity may have been sacrificed at the altar as we interact with the world more like a piece-part. Quoting Len Barren, Boulder’s own Einstein doppelganger, “in a perfectly efficient society man is redundant.”
Perhaps we might discuss how, if at all, our own sense of self — the quality of simply being, not doing — has suffered. Cartoonist Gary Trudeau once expressed the desire “to develop a lifestyle that doesn’t require (his) presence.”
Invoking Thoreau’s “living life deliberately,” the author maintains the virtual world changes us, without our noticing, as the very spaces where we can gain a footing in our minds and souls are removed. This artificial world becomes the white noise masking aloneness.
The good news is that we can regain lost footing. A sense of a real self is, for instance, what the Highland City Club, or the Integral Center, or the Temple at Burning Man (cited in the article), or meditation are all about. It’s all out there. All we need to do is to pay attention.
With attention we can avoid becoming simply a node on the network.
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Synopsis from "The Browser":
Extreme blogger Andrew Sullivan tells how he closed the Daily Dish because pressure of work was killing him, and restored his health through meditation. He returns to society persuaded that tech is stupefying us. “Just as modern street lighting has slowly blotted the stars from the visible skies, so too have cars and planes and factories and flickering digital screens combined to rob us of a silence that was previously regarded as integral to the health of the human imagination"