"Three small essays on technology"
March 28, 2012
Hello. I’ve dropped today’s “sorbet” offering into this webspace (see below). Not really essays but rather, the seeds of miniature essays on subjects that I’m intrigued by. Maybe, just maybe, this generation should be called “Generation Herd”. Because the young have embraced the idea of being part of a herd. Solitude is a foriegn, horrifying idea. Hmmmmm….
Notes on being bored: Three small essays on technology
Connected to nothing at all
I notice the technologies – the way they obscure humanity. When cell phones first arrived, I swore up and down that I was not important enough nor interesting enough to be constantly connected. Guys talking about buying bread on the way home from the movie on cell phones in movie theatres made my blood boil. And yet, I am on Facebook. I tweet. I have looked a porn. I have played Angry Birds. I carry a smart phone that talks to me like she’s real. But I have noticed the way we no longer look at each other in elevators. The way, we walk down certain streets and avenues looking at our smart phones instead of breathing the world. The way a cell phone can burn holes in a pocket at dinner – the false need to be constantly, irrevocably, connected to others who are relentlessly, concurrently, linked, to other junkies of nothing at all. Someday, a simple human conversation without the aid of the technologies will be a profound luxury.
I am a huge fan of boredom. We are no longer bored and it is essential, I think, that humans be bored. Now, at the slightest hint of impending boredom, we reach for a smart phone, or a game, or a tablet, or we turn on a TV. We are swallowed by the stimulus of on-line, linked-to, jacked-in, and the not-so-real reality of the lives of others. It’s as if we have become afraid of boredom. But I have noticed that boredom can lead to many important things. When we are bored, we find ways to entertain ourselves – to motivate ourselves. And we turn inward – think, ponder, reflect, dance with our own imaginations. We engage in reverie. We problem solve. We dream. How can anybody dream when you are being constantly stimulated? We create. We find the creative default that is in all of us. The quiet enclave of boredom is essential to creativity.
The artists are letting us down. The artists need to arrive, well armed, at a street-fight with the geeks, programmers, and engineers and they need to pound the crap out of the them. The artists must show us how to disrespect the technologies. We need the artists to show us that the technologies are just tools. That Blackberries should be used as doorstops and drink coasters – and iPhones used only to record the sound of the wind, and as colourful necklaces – anything but phones and the Google-in-my-pocket mini-computers that they are. We need the artists to look at the technologies and ask the question: How can I make this thing do something it was not designed to do? And we need the artists to show us that the internet should contain nothing but lies and falsehoods and misinformation so that we can arrive at the truth. Because right now, there is no truth in the internet, there is only stimulation.
I spoke to Daphne today and she asked when your new book was coming out, told her I would check your website and here I am.
I see cell phones as a way of doing what we have always done, trying desperately to connect with other human beings. But you’re right, in our desperate attempt to connect with others, we forget that there are often human beings right next to us. I think it will eventually sort itself out but it will take time. It has been a revolution of sorts, not unlike the industrial revolution.
Tell your beautiful wife we miss her at the book club. Hope you guys are well. Take care.