Mar 05, 2017
Remember that old, mostly unfunny joke: “No matter where you go, there you are”? Well, it’s still not very funny, and it’s also becoming untrue. People are largely absent from their surroundings, immersed in their phones mostly. You see it all over in public, even in places like museums, tourist sites, concerts, and sporting events.
We see it here at the Commodity Classic—oblivious to our surroundings, we scroll through Twitter or Facebook or some other app to keep up with events or people anywhere but where we are.
Paying attention is derived from the verb “attend”, or to be present. Unlinking from the information stream to be present in reality in real-time can be liberating and restorative. Attending can help us mend our links to family and neighbors. Attending can soothe troubled spirits.
This is not another grumpy old-guy rant about “kids today”. I suffer from the same compulsion to check messages, emails, tweets, and posts. It is addictive, but worse that than it makes us unhappy. It is that outcome which paradoxically could offer us hope to rebalance our electronic habits. In the words of modern agriculture, this behavior is unsustainable.
I’m don’t know how it will happen but I’m guessing one by one, we’ll find ways to attend to our lives; that incessant interaction with our phones will become less and less satisfying. There already reports from those who have made this transition to entice us to put our devices down.
Perhaps the most powerful influence might be impression of rebellion and individuality that internet abstinence presents. Being cool could become synonymous with being unplugged.
It may not happen soon. It may take a generation. But this tipping point could also be much closer than we imagine. Just don’t look for it to be announced on Facebook.