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

Do you want to feel truly connected with others?

Do you ever have a conversation with someone only to realize they are in another world? Their mind is thinking about Facebook, the text they just received, the email they need to respond to? We are now such a highly connected society that we often do not go more than an hour without having connected with someone that is miles away from us, yet we struggle to sometimes connect with the person that is sitting right in front of us.

A few months ago I finished reading the book: “Program or be Programmed” by Douglas Rushkoff. A few days ago, I was reminded of Rushkoff’s book, after an interaction that just felt too on the surface to me. We have become a society that just takes from the top layer. We are getting farther and farther away from going deep. Our world revolves around the moment by moment distractions of our phones, tablets, and what is happening on the Internet. Rushkoff says:

“A society that looked at the Internet as a path toward highly articulated connections and new methods of creating meaning is instead finding itself disconnected, denied deep thinking, and drained of enduring values.”

My question is what can we do to get back to deeper values, connected conversations, and quality interactions? I also like what he says here:

“Faced with a networked future that seems to favor the distracted over the focused, the automatic over the considered, and the contrary over the compassionate, it’s time to press the pause button and ask what all this means to the future of our work, our lives, and even our species.”

I want to take another look at my moments and interactions and see how I act. I already know that I am a multi-tasker. I at times applaud myself for all that I can do at once. But, am I doing things better? Am I really focused on all that is happening around me? Could I provide more quality to whatever activity that I am doing by being completely 100% connected and aware?

What do you think?