David Kanigan, over at Lead.Learn.Live, this morning posted this excerpt from a book by Tony Schwartz . I read it and commented. I’m reposting my commenting here as well, because it goes to the heart of what I write about on this and my other blogs.
“I believe this is a very special moment in history, a kind of perfect storm. There is a growing recognition — to borrow language from AA — that our world has become unmanageable…The addiction of our times is digital connection, instant gratification, and the cheap adrenalin high of constant busyness. The heartening news is that more and more are beginning to recognize the insidious costs of moving so relentlessly and at such high speeds. Just below the surface of our shared compulsion to do ever more, ever faster, is a deep hunger to do less, more slowly. I saw proof of that a couple of weeks ago, when I wrote an article for The New York Times titled “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive.” It focused on the growing scientific evidence that when we build in more time for sleep, naps, breaks, and vacations, we become not just healthier and happier, but also more productive. The piece prompted an avalanche of response, much of it poignantly describing the sense of overwhelm people are feeling at work…Speed, distraction, and instant gratification are the enemies of nearly everything that matters most in our lives. Creating long-term value — for ourselves and for others — requires more authentic connection, reflection, and the courage to delay immediate gratification. That’s wisdom in action.”
– Tony Schwartz, How To Be Mindful in An “Unmanageable World”
(My comment. And I edited this and slightly expanded on it, Fri., March 1, 2013, in the morning) —
Technology can be used for good or ill. Certainly I see it in children, the attention-deficit, the hyperness, the inability to sit still for more than a minute or two.
Pascal, back in the 1600’s, wrote (and I’m paraphrasing this from memory) — “All of our problems are caused by our inability to sit still quietly alone in a room.”
Busyness isn’t new. It’s just much much easier to do nowadays.
And this abundance of new technology also allows us to deepen and become wiser, if we’re selective and wise (mindful) about how we do it.
We can write and blog in a way that helps develop our own critical thinking skills and our ability to examine ourselves and our world. We can write longer and hopefully thought-provoking posts.
Of course, based on personal experience, the lengthier the post I write, the less “likes” it tends to receive, not to mention the less comments as well. So I must conclude that either my posts are off-putting because of their length, their content and possible depth, their subject matter, or their tone–i.e. maybe I’m just a huge off-putting bore, arrogant know-it-all, pedantic preachy pontificator, et cetera, et cetera. Or perhaps some bit of all of the above.
I put constant twittering and facebooking and blogging in the same category distraction-wise as gossip magazines, frivolous books, most pop music, most TV shows and even movies. We can’t tweet our way to a significantly better and more examined life. (Can we?) We can’t improve our lives and up our level of thinking by continuing to think in tweets and platitudes and cliches and soundbites. We have to slow down, pause, reflect, think more deeply, more critically, with more breadth and depth, examine ourselves, be honest and candid with ourselves, read decent books, read something of substance, and do all of this every day.
And this takes time. And effort. (And discipline.)
There is so much out there competing for our already divided attention. There is so much out there competing to numb us even more than we already are.
But all of this stuff wouldn’t appeal so much to us if we weren’t already susceptible to it, if we weren’t already deeply looking to divide ourselves and decimate our thinking skills and numb ourselves.
And from what are we trying to constantly numb ourselves?
The same stuff that the Buddha elucidated over 2500 years ago–our own impermanence, and the threats of illness, old age, death. Loss, of one form or another.
Sit still quietly in a room, and deep down this is what we’re all afraid of and trying to deny and somehow circumvent.
So what’s the alternative?
Distraction is the well-traveled path. The vast vast majority of human beings have been doing it for ages.
The alternative to the path of least resistance is the road less traveled by. It’s a tough and lonely road.
Is there some middle way, some way of really facing our own mortality and still enjoying the fruits of technology?
We want to connect, but we don’t seem to want to face our own mortality and or that of others. So how can we truly connect with each other if we’re not just constantly busy and distracted, but if we’re living in denial?
That’s my question.
Any suggestions, opinions, ideas, thoughts?
7 Ways Sitting Will Kill You (popsci.com)
Technology and Mindfulness (toddlohenry.com)