I’ve written on this somewhere before, I just can’t remember where or in what form right now.
As I was driving down the coast from Big Sur this morning I reflected on my own personal digital detox that I had the pleasure of undergoing for the previous weekend. Basically I only checked my phone once in three days which for me is extreme. Unless I’m in some far off land or physically unable to my phone, like most of us, has mutated into an appendage.
With great trepidation and cynicism I’ve been checking out what the Digital Detox (http://digitaldetox.org) team is doing. My first reaction is one of defensiveness and outright defiance in that these damn dirty hippies are trying to disrupt the train that has already left the station. That they are trying to challenge the nature of progress and creativity by guilt tripping us into getting our feet dirty in the god damn dirt and if we don’t we may loose out on the truly meaningful things in this life. Deeper friendships, connections, inter personal love affairs and fresh air are all things that come to mind. And of course while I’m busy judging the book by its cover and rallying against these extremist antiquarians I am being bombarded with more texts and tweets than a) I can keep up with and b) can sustain my attention in any sort of cognitively sane way. Yes, it’s true that I – like just about everyone else in the western world – is seeing their attention span dissipate into a stream of short sound bytes and only half way real digital connections. The pay off for the short term shift is that my long term neural network based creative potential and inspiration is far more developed than ever before, that – however – is another blog post.
The weirdest part about our digital connections is not that it’s happening but rather, the speed at which we’ve adapted to its happening. I’m at the age where I can remember my adult life pre smart phone and post smart phone. Or pre web and post web. Somehow, I lived life before Google Maps telling me where to go or before a friends text message telling me where and when to meet them. This did happen. Yet, I can’t remember it. No, seriously. I can’t remember.
I can’t remember how day to day life worked just a short 8-20 years ago. This is not to say that my memory has dwindled or that I’m exaggerating the circumstances, neither has occurred. The mutation of how the technology has been chosen, applied and then just accepted is a thing of pure mysticism that is found within the human condition. Yes, these mutations have happened before – from the Guttenberg press all the way through the advent and subsequent mass adoption of TV – we are very quick to embrace the new stuff and quickly discard the old.
There is something different about personal digital technology that can’t quite be put into the same category as the others – partially due to the peer-to-peer connective tissue, the rapid acceleration of the thoughts and ideas and the simplicity and grace that is found within the UI. It’s easy to get sucked in and quite frankly the laziest most introverted troll on the planet can have skin in the game. We’ve mutated fast. So fast that I’m of the mind to suggest that it’s a natural evolution and may in face be a form of some quasi warped blend of spirituality and purpose driven destiny. On a good day. On a bad day, it’s the end of the world. It’s us being sucked into a black hole where there is no more empathy or compassion, just social media driven justice and cold hearted hellos. Somewhere in between is the truth.
Back to last weekend. With just two and one half short days off from the digi-drome I did indeed remember how it used to be. It came flashing back to me in little bits complete with euphoric recalls of pay phones and note pads.
Then I got lost and needed Goolge Maps. My notifications were not off. Sigh. The cycle repeats.