by Mateo Sol
has become a
modern euphemism for
made my carelessness measurable"...
Last year I made the hard decision of purchasing my first
The Pros ended up
out-weighing the Cons, like having something better to read
while seated on the toilet other than shampoo bottle instructions.
But deep down, I knew I
was giving up something invaluable the moment I bought it; my space
for tranquility and depth of thought in solitude.
In the 1980's, futurist Alvin Toffler coined the term "Information
Overload" in his book
Future Shock predicting where
technology was heading in our society.
According to a San Diego
University study, the average American citizen today is bombarded
with 100,500 words and digests around 12 hours of information and
media every single day.
And if you think about it, 12 hours isn't so much of an
...as well as,
...it's hardly surprising
why we're always so 'busy.'
We live in an extrospective society, one that thinks happiness is
found in the outside world.
We tend to believe
wholeheartedly that the more we cram every living moment with
outside sources of enjoyment, excitement and pleasure, the more
Life is often thought in outward terms, as a series of events that
unfolds in the physical world that we all inhabit. However, we
experience all these events that happen in life inwardly through our
thoughts and feelings.
This is the reality for
each of us.
We are the surround-sound generation with 1,000 channels. We want to
feel everything all the time. A walk through the park isn't just a
walk anymore, it's a music concerto with our iPod, while feasting on
a burger, and a work-out as well, with our electronic
heart-monitors, all while admiring the passing carnival of humanity.
Creativity and thought have become subservient to the singular
ambition of saturating our senses. Stimulation has become the new
Depth of focus is
It's Not The
Quantity, But The Depth
The irony of our times is that we have more "friends" and know more
about their activities and interests than ever … by spending less
time with them.
We are also more than ever proficient through technology. But we
achieve much more by superficially immersing ourselves in every
activity we do, by dividing our attention and focus.
Take me as an example.
During the writing of
this article I've digressed in checking my emails, watching 5
videos, buying a book and learning that Google is planning to
set up a free global Wi-Fi network!
When I go out on walks I
don't feel that peacefulness and thrill of solitude anymore.
I come across a beautiful
bird and immediately I feel like "possessing" that moment for later.
I pull out my phone to take a photo, and begin to feel the anxiety
that any sudden movements might frighten it away.
I give up the chance of
being entirely and absorbingly present in that moment, in exchange
for the anxiety of admiring a photo of it in the future.
I continue my walk and feel my phone vibrating. It's a notification
that either someone has recommended a movie to me, or I received a
comment or "like" online, I have an overdue bill, someone just had a
baby, a tsunami just killed hundreds in South Asia, or my uncle is
getting a Colonoscopy.
Perhaps you have realized
this before, but all of these distractions are impediments to the
ability to immerse ourselves in each place we find ourselves in.
But worst of all, technology takes away from us the one thing we
require the most for depth of thought and creativity: aloneness.
I've felt so many times as though I'm taking the whole world with me
when I carry my phone.
There's never any time or
space away from our daily business anymore.
The other day I saw a man talking in a public phone booth.
It is such a rare thing
that all I could assume was that he was being told where to drop off
the ransom money. We keep upgrading software and finding faster ways
Unknowingly, as we
increase the intensity of our ties to other people we are cementing
the bars to our own technological prisons.
The more connected we
are, the more we depend on the world outside ourselves to tell
us how to think and live.
The more we depend on technology and live our lives absorbed in
it's brightly alluring screens, the more fearful we become as
Just think of all the
hundreds of stories of,
...and other horrific
stories that we let into our lounge rooms and bedrooms on a daily
All of this violence
takes it's toll on us.
It's easy to blame all this on all of our tools. I'm not trying to
say that technology is the spawn of Satan – technology makes our
lives much more convenient and pleasurable.
It's not technology that
is at fault, instead, everything began with the simple goal of
keeping "in touch" with everything and everyone.
With our constant desire
for extrospective stimulation we've turned that into "never being
out of touch", making our every day feel more frantic and rushed.
This need to,
"never be out of
touch" has been attributed by psychologists, to conditions like
attention deficit disorder.
It has been the cause of
Nomophobia, which is,
"the fear of being
out of mobile phone contact".
The need to never be out
of touch is so great, that around the world rehabilitation centers
have been opened for technologically addicted children.
In my opinion, creativity and depth of thought has highly been
affected by the need to never be out of touch as well. Just look at
modern day children, supposedly the most creative beings there are.
They rarely go on lavish
imaginary adventures anymore, or sit down to make figurines out of
popsicle sticks, or make their own hand-drawn comic books.
To them, as well as us,
reality seems too silent, too frustratingly inert and
non-interactive. The sense of wonder and mystery is being lost.
Sure, many solutions have been proposed. There's software like Inbox
Pause that puts your messages on hold. There are other services that
limit the amount of time you spend online or block every ad and
piece of jargon around the contents of a webpage.
But the more we connect through technology, the more our thoughts
What makes life
meaningful is your inner feelings, your passions, your dreams and to
cultivate those you require introspection, deep mental focus and
I hope some of you feel a desire to be away from the tumult of the
technological crowd the same way I do. In order to fully enjoy
technology, it would be a wise idea to learn to cultivate time
disconnected away from the eternal cyber buzz around us.
If there's anything that I've learned, it's that only when you learn
to be comfortable with your solitude, without the need of
stimulation, will you become inwardly content.
When you drop the need
for others and other things to stimulate you, you can then develop
the ability to think of other people with more care and interest.
It's not about what they can provide for you anymore.
In the comfort of your
aloneness, you can ask yourself instead:
What can I provide
Try taking some time out
to put some space between yourself and the cyber crowd, otherwise
you might get lost in the