“I gave up my cell phone.”
What? I couldn’t believe I’d heard correctly. Near me, someone was asking for a friend’s cell phone number and that was his reply. My mouth must have been hanging open, because he caught me staring and answered my unasked question. “I found myself paying more attention to it than to what was going on around me.”
Wow! I was in awe- the courage, the self-control, the… enlightenment bordering on Buddhist Arahant (the highest level of personal enlightenment achievable.) I was also intrigued. It led to a very interested and surprisingly down-to-earth discussion with this guy about the technological revolution.
Anytime someone throws NPR into a conversation you know I am hooked. So when this guy mentioned a show he’d heard describing the evolution of society through the Industrial Revolution into the technological one, I needed more. Searching NPR provided a number of sources on America’s great challenges and led to some finds such as Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Cukier, Kenneth and Mayer-Schonberger, Viktor, and Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Robinson, James A. and Acemoglu, Daron. But nothing pointed directly to the conversation we had about man’s evolution based on these two revolutions.
I suppose his reference is a bit like my overhears- a snippet of information which prompts deeper thought and consideration.
So while I can’t give you a link to reference, I can give you a bit more about our discussion. If I could sum it up in one sentence it would be- There is hope for artists. Here’s our train of thought…
The industrial revolution changed the way we work, lessening our need to focus on physical effort and instead direct work toward intellectual pursuits. The technological revolution is gradually lessening our mental efforts, allowing us to, what? And that is the question… what is left? If our bodies and minds are taken care of, this guy theorized that was is left is our emotions. Computers can’t emote (at least not yet). But we can…. So will our focus be on developing our emotional capacity? And if so, which area does this better than art?
Which brings us back to the idea of the cell phone and his giving it up. It is difficult to feel anything in a world where we are at least one step removed from what is happening around us. Rather than experience people we are with or react to the nature around us, it is now easy for us to hide behind the screen on our mobile phone or tablet. If what is demanded of us as artists, though, is a link to emotion, than we must break free of this boundary and step back into the world. We must focus on living moments with mindfulness and spontaneity so that we can translate meaning back to emotion.
And by translate, in my case, I mean write. And by write I mean type. Which I suppose means that I am not completely done with technology yet.
NEWS... NEWS... NEWS
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Are you ready to give up your cell phone yet? Do you happen to know more about the NPR program mentioned? Leave a comment and I’ll enter you into a drawing where one lucky January commenter will win a copy of any one of Daniel Davidson's Travel Free Guides. Check back at the end of the month to see if you’re my winner. Please note –while I love and appreciate getting Facebook posts and Twitter replies, the comment must be made on my blog, using the blog form – this way all who see the blog post can engage in a shared conversation. Thanks.
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