“In barely one generation, we’ve moved from exulting in the time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them – often in order to make more time. The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug. Like teenagers, we appear to have gone from knowing nothing about the world to knowing too much all but overnight”.
Pico Iyer says this in his New York Times article, The Joy of Quiet. And I couldn’t agree more. The more we’re on the grid – the more time we spend trying to get off of it. There are even those “who part with $2,285 a night to stay in a cliff-top room at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur for the privilege of not having a TV in their rooms”.
But what does all of this mean? I’m certainly not suggesting that we become “anti-technology”. Technological advances have benefitted us tremendously. But we certainly need to create more balance in our lives by spending less time on the digital hamster wheel. This becomes evident when you learn that the average American spends a minimum of 8.5 hours a day in front of a screen. Couple that with the average American teenager who sends or receives an average of 75 text messages a day. It’s time we pay attention.
To unplug is not some 21st century trend – it’s something that has been culminating over time. “The urgency of slowing down – to find the time and space to think – is nothing new…and wiser souls…remind us that the more attention we pay to the moment, the less time and energy we have to place it in some larger context”. As the French philosopher Blaise Pascal stated so eloquently, “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries…and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries”. And he lived in the 17th Century!