Want to Read: “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now”

Usually I write about books I have read, but today I want to share about a book I want to read. I just read this NPR book review for: “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Nowby Douglas Rushkoff. His book is about how we are slaves to technology, i.e. slaves to our computers, phones, text messages, etc. I was intrigued by this quote in the book review:

“In my life, it’s sort of the experience of being on Facebook and seeing everyone from my past suddenly back in my present. And the inability to distinguish between who may have been friends of mine in second grade, and people who I’ve met just yesterday, and people who are actually significant relationships. That collapse of my whole life into one moment, where every ping, every vibration of my phone might just pull me out of whatever it is I’m doing, into something else that seems somehow more pressing on the moment.”

How true that is. Our online life tends to instantly suck us into this vortex of what others are doing. Are they successful? More than we are? Less? Are they happy? The constant interest and care of our “friends” status updates has made us a distracted and less focused society. It also seems to be that every email, text, voicemail, Facebook, and Tweet we receive, we are very quick to check and respond to in case we might miss out on something. Do we usually really need to react and respond so quickly? Not usually.

Later in the article Rushkoff says:

“But I think what happens is as we get more and more obsessed with those pings, we lose touch with sort of the continuity of life. We forget what it means to really just be there, looking in someone else’s eyes rather than down at our phone while we’re at a meal. And I guess a lot of what I’m trying to do with this book is to give people permission to take back their time.”

Chris and I usually (depending on what might be happening in life or work), remind each other to put our phones away when we go out to dinner. We are paying to have a meal out, so we should be sure to give each other our full attention. Do we do that at home? Sometimes. I never thought of it in the words: “Take back their time.” It makes me ponder in my thought other times during the day. Do you look at your phone when you are in a meeting? When you are talking with someone one-on-one? While walking to a meeting in a different building? Do you look at your phone when you are bored? Waiting in your car at an intersection? What if we were to take those moments to be quiet? To listen, or to meditate? Would we be happier? Or does checking our phone each time we hear it ding, whistle, or beep make us feel at peace?

Be sure to read the above article to learn more about what Rushkoff calls: digiphrenia

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