I wrote last week about how we may well be becoming less creative and less able to connect due to the stealth addictiveness of our social media technology. Creativity, particularly, is a non-rational process we don’t fully understand. From anecdotal sources as well as an increasing body of scientific evidence, the growing stress most of us experience staying current with social media results in a drop off of focus and revelation.
Don Draper of Mad Men describes how he summons the creative process. He says, “Think about something deeply, then forget it…then an idea will jump up in your face.” That sounds about right to me. (In the past I have shared that when I feel overwhelmed with business conundrums, I turn off my phone and go to the movies—preferably an undemanding one. Think American Pie, Dumb and Dumber, etc. Sometimes I just go to sleep, but almost always new ideas will encroach unexpectedly. Not very spiritual, but it works for me.)
Technology is robbing us of our moments of respite.
Here is an eloquent response to last week’s discussion by serial entrepreneur Tom Cox. I found it extraordinary. Here’s Tom’s comment.
“I see the zombies everywhere—at dinner gatherings and Starbucks and behind the wheel–all staring at their ‘device.’ When I see them now I will always think of your phrase ‘private technology Idahos.’
Technology has been a great fuel for the culture we have become: scatter-brained, childishly impatient, bloodless, shallow and myopic. You, along with Lanier and Carr, highlighted the worst impact of the hyper-addiction to the meaningless use of technology (‘twits twittering!’ and, Facebook—‘the narcissism training center!’): It is the lost value of actual experience. Not the virtual, simulated, condensed and artificial kind, of course, but the real stuff.
Without experience we lose the ability to distinguish between what is important and what is not. And, given our myopic obsession with technology trivia (second only to celebrity gossip) diverting us from reality, we don’t even care. And with that, the natural ‘recency bias’ that compels humans to over-estimate the importance of NOW and to ignore the consequences of LATER (even if later is tomorrow), becomes a suicidal obsession. Like Americans today, saucer-eyed zombies worshiping Ben Bernanke, the Electronic Debt Creation God, just as house-flippers did in 2007.
Meanwhile, entertainment technology novocaine helps us ignore all but the unimportant (until it doesn’t) and the ‘now’ (until tomorrow).
It makes me proud to be a Luddite, too.
Sometimes the small things make us realize the larger point. When I took my son to his first day on campus at college we went to the ‘library’ to get a course catalogue. Literally none existed. Not even a copy at the ‘librarians’ desk for reference. Computer file only. I could not thumb through the pages to get a bird’s eye view of the majors, or take the book to the beach. Something was lost, even in a mere compilation of data, much less a work of literary art. Is there no difference between a study filled with a lifetime of reading experiences and an empty room with an iPad?
Worshipers of the Technology God who think they are not missing something are like those who have never ridden a horse but who “know” what it is like because they saw a re-run of ‘Bonanza’ on TV.
End of rant!”
Not a rant, Tom. Eloquence. Thank you.