Several posts came across my email this week and they seem to share a common thread — the importance of relationships in a sometimes disconnected world. Shirley Turkle speaks of this in her book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Also listen to Turkle’s interview with Krista Tippett from the On Being site – Alive Enough? Reflecting on Technology.
Yesterday, I learned of a 59-year-old communications professor who took his life, James Aune, Texas A&M University. The following is an excerpt from a comment in response: “If I had to think of a key word for society today I would also use the word disconnected and empty. Disconnected from our true selves through the necessity of living and surviving in this world so different from just a few generations ago. Although it doesn’t often result in suicide, most of us do erect the facade Laura mentioned in order to get by in this quantitative, corporate, metrics-driven world. … we are tired and disconnected from the essence and purpose of life, from family and friends who live far flung due to jobs and circumstance. We all long for more of what life is really about — bonds of love and friendship, creativity, joy, and peace. … Our quality of life is virtually non-existent despite having the latest iPhone or iPad. These tech advances have just made it possible for us to work 24/7 and to never give ourselves the sort of off-line time to develop our inner resources and germinate ideas. …”
Tonight, while driving to Starbuck’s after doing chores, I heard an NPR report on the suicide of young Aaaron Swartz, technology wiz kid. The article link to Cory Doctorow’s moving tribute is worth reading. He writes, in part, “I don’t know if it’s productive to speculate about that, but here’s a thing that I do wonder about this morning, and that I hope you’ll think about, too. I don’t know for sure whether Aaron understood that any of us, any of his friends, would have taken a call from him at any hour of the day or night. I don’t know if he understood that wherever he was, there were people who cared about him, who admired him, who would get on a plane or a bus or on a video-call and talk to him.”
And finally, I am reading (listening to) Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond as a prelude to purchasing, The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? — “Societies like those of the New Guinea Highlanders remind us that it was only yesterday—in evolutionary time—when everything changed and that we moderns still possess bodies and social practices often better adapted to traditional than to modern conditions.” (Amazon Book Description)
So give someone a hug today. Have a cup of coffee together and leave your gadgets in your pockets and purses for a few minutes. Let your friends and family know that you are there for them no matter what.