I'm not sure if this is the best place to post this...
Today, on my way home from an appointment I was listening to the Diane Rehm show on NPR (National Public Radio). I was very interested in the topic of the day which was a book by William Powers called Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age . You can listen to the show here.
Taken off of the Amazon product information page:
From Publishers Weekly
Our discombobulated Internet Age could learn important new tricks from some very old thinkers, according to this incisive critique of online life and its discontents. Journalist Powers bemoans the reigning dogma of digital maximalism that requires us to divide our attention between ever more e-mails, text messages, cellphone calls, video streams, and blinking banners, resulting, he argues, in lowered productivity and a distracted life devoid of meaning and depth. In a nifty and refreshing turn, he looks to ideas of the past for remedies to this hyper-modern predicament: to Plato, who analyzed the transition from the ancient technology of talking to the cutting-edge gadgetry of written scrolls; to Shakespeare, who gave Hamlet the latest in Elizabethan information apps, an erasable notebook; to Thoreau, who carved out solitary spaces amid the press of telegraphs and railroads. The author sometimes lapses into mysticism—In solitude we meet not just ourselves but all other selves—and his solutions, like the weekend-long Internet Sabbaths he and his wife decreed for their family, are small-bore. But Powers deftly blends an appreciation of the advantages of information technology and a shrewd assessment of its pitfalls into a compelling call to disconnect. (July)
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This synopsis from Publishers Weekly fails to relate an important point of Powers’ book I think. Powers is not technology bashing or saying that everyone needs to disconnect but rather that we need to evaluate how our many ways of staying connected (cell phones, smart phones, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc) are beneficial and detrimental thereby making it possible to consciously decide how much is enough and maintain a balance in our lives. (This is the opinion I formed from listening to the broadcast, not reading the book.)
As someone who is always seeking balance in my life, Powers’ message resonated with me. I think he would agree with me that there is no formula for a healthy use of communication technology. Instead, everyone has to judge what works best for them. The important thing is to be aware of how your connectedness affects you. In the interview Powers talks about his own families decision to disconnect from computers every weekend and how that has benefited their relationships.
I’m interested to hear others’ thoughts about this subject. Do you feel overwhelmed sometimes and feel the need to disconnect? Do you find yourself spending less time face to face with friends & family so that you can connect digitally? Or do you see only an upside to these communication aids?