Like many people, I am constantly connected to the cultural world via various interfaces like the laptop, smartphone, iPad, tv, or even the radio.
No matter the time, I can always get my fill of tech news, world news, cats playing the piano, mindless friend updates, photos from a distant holiday, or emails from work colleagues.
It is a life lived online. The binary public / private has been shattered by Facebook, Twitter, and Google. What previously happened in the quietetude of your own home may have been known only to family and close friends, and discoverable only to snoops and cops. Now a whole life can be tracked and mapped online. Everything is public, known and discoverable.
This can be a curse.
It is ironic that being connected can mean you’re distracted, obsessed, and not really engaged with the folks around you.
My wife pointed out that I am often distracted by devices when I should be listening or engaging with my children. They talk to me, demand my attention with adorable tantrums, ask me questions, or just be cute and I am checking my Twitter feed.
Being social is making me bad company.
Post-internet culture is a pervasive always connected, always engaging, always anxious culture. Much like an ADHD kid we’re always looking for how life can be interpreted or understood through the veil of social media.
Updating a status is now an extension of the psyche, it is a mode of communication like the voice, so consciously or unconsciously major life events are not reflected upon, they are expressed and expressed and expressed. Rather than thinking, “How do I feel about this?” the connected kids think “OMG I am so gonna tell everyone on facey about this”.
And the veil becomes more entrenched.
One of the keys to happiness is what Buddhists and psychologists call mindfulness.
It refers to having a state of calm awareness of the world in the present moment where every thought, emotion, feeling, or urge is acknowledged in a non-judgemental way. Without mindfulness enlightenment is a distant and anxious dream.
It could be argued that being constantly connected increases mindfulness. After all, you are connected to the great unconscious comprised of a gazillion internet users doing their stuff online. You are like Batman observing Gotta City from the rooftop of a skyscraper, silent, alert, wedded to the present moment absolutely and completely.
Or perhaps not.
In 2011 I will be practicing mindfulness and engaging more with those around me, and this demands that the smart-phone be put down, the laptop closed, and the cable turned off.