A Frank Look at the Shadow of the Hyper Connected Self in a Technology Wired Society.
Mind overstimulated from the electric atmosphere at Wisdom 2.0, I could not wait to get home and finally get a chance to sit in silence. It was that intense. Jon Kabat-Zinn and Jack Kornfield's contemplative presence was dwarfed by the pernicious effects of all out technology. While attempting to be different, this conference felt very much like so many of the Silicon Valley events I have attended in the past. Same actors, same greed, same ambitions, same driven-ness, same addictions, same delusions . . . a toxic mist that gets into one's system, real fast.
Taking place on my seat, I could finally feel the aftermath from the past two days. Inside, I found an overwhelming sensation of complete fragmentation and bruising from repeated assaults on one's natural inner tranquility. Sitting perfectly still, I watched . . . Body imploded, into a mass of energy gone mad, with millions of particles dancing around without any purpose. Head, aching from too much stimulation, yearning for a place of rest. Heart, bruised from violence done to myself, by me. Tears came, along with a deep sense of loss. I settled down a bit after 30', and went to bed yearning for some peace, at last. I woke up this morning, determined to not let myself down. I wanted to sit some more, and just be. Sitting in my seat, I felt the powerful impulse to grab my iPhone, and to check emails, and Twitter DMs. There was sadness, and disappointment at the realization of my powerlessness with electronics.
Consistent with the Dharma way, it is through such direct experience that I have come to understand the true meaning of Wisdom 2.0. The rise of the online world is both a beautiful and terrifying phenomenon, and we are at a point, collectively, where its shadow elements need to be acknowledged and dealt with, fully. I found it interesting that the conference was hosted at the Computer History Museum. History was indeed being made as we all gathered and explored the paradox of disconnectivity from hyperconnectivity. This was a clear shift from the first Wisdom 2.0 conference last year, when the awareness of the problem was still dim.
I was especially moved by Ben Fullerton's short presentation on 'Designing for Solitude'. Ben is at the forefront of intelligent interaction design and is working on creating new online tools that will help us disconnect, based on the following design principles:
- Don't require the network
- Make it okay to be away
- Aim for balance
- Ask "why" and "when" as well as "how"
Ben shared this wonderful quote from Alain de Botton, founder of the School of Life: "We have become such experts at being always in touch, informed, connected. Now we must relearn how to be silent, disconnected and alone.” The irony is, this quote came in the form of a tweet . . .
When Ben talked about the importance of alone moments, and the generative nature of solitude, I went straight to a recent talk from Gil, on solitude, the first one in his series on 'Solitude - Listening - Speaking - Meeting'. It is true, that in order for us to honor our innate need for relatedness, we need to first spend time alone, so that we can connect with ourselves. Only then, are we able to meet another person, heart to heart, mind to mind. Also, only in solitude, can we draw from the deep well of our creativity and have a chance to lead a rich and meaningful life. Right now, I am all to the joy of writing this post, thanks to no distractions. Nobody in the house, ringer off, emails not considered, Twitter and Facebook dismissed . . . Heart settling, the mind can play.