Michelle’s thoughtful post got me thinking and rather than expound in a lengthy comment, I decided to post myself.
The subject is technology versus a pause: to simply be, noticing, smelling roses, sipping coffee, watching raindrops, or standing in the sun.
I spend hours at my computer aside from writing, online in the blogosphere, reading articles, communicating in assorted netty ways. When the internet is down for any reason, I check every few minutes to see if it’s back up. I feel odd, out of touch, isolated, hampered.
But I wonder what it is about the internet that takes me away from many other things I love to do, and take me away it does. Part of that is a universal experience. I think we all know that the internet does something to time. It hasn’t been scientifically proven, but there is a warp in the space-time continuum when you’re online. You look at the clock and a minute later look at it again and several hours have passed, more at night.
It’s also a universal experience, at least in our society, to feel guilty about pausing. Sitting at a computer is doing something, it is busy and productive looking. To pause, look, consider, be, is considered wasteful. To disdain it is the Protestant-become- American legacy of the work ethic and financial success, proof of God’s approval.
For me there is all that and this too: I don’t have computer baggage. When I was a kid, computers took up whole rooms at universities and government institutions. There were no pc’s, there was no world wide web. Nobody told me I was no good at it, didn’t deserve it or shouldn’t waste my time with it. That is true about nothing else in my life.
Absolutely every other thing, writing a book, sewing a seam, skating around an arena, swimming a lap, taking a photo, drawing a picture, reading a book, hammering a nail, baking a cake, choosing a nice shirt, carries with it memories of criticism, threats and punishment.
For me the pause is time out of the past and time in to the present. The challenge is to carry that time-in back to all the non-computer related activities that make life peaceful and pleasurable. We are here to do that which makes our hearts sing. Online, offline, I don’t think it matters. It is the song that matters, and the purpose of the pause is to hear again the tune.