If you're sitting in the office zipping from e-mail to e-mail to text to Web page to buzzing mobile and back again--that is, doing the usual digital dance--you're likely losing all kinds of opportunities to reach depth.
We use digital devices to nurture relationships, to feed our emotional, social, and spiritual hungers, to think creatively and express ourselves. It's no exaggeration to say that, at their best, they produce the kinds of moments that make life rewarding and worth living. If you've ever written an e-mail straight from the heart, watched a video that you couldn't stop thinking about, or read an online esasy that changed how you think about the world, you know this is true.
The Hyperconnected are defined as "those who have fully embraced the brave new world, with more devices per capita... and more intense use of new communications applications."
Life was different in disconnected mode. I first noticed it on airplanes. Buckling into my seat, I felt my mind relax as I was liberated from a burden I didn't even know I'd been carrying. It was the burden of my busy, connected life. The burden of always knowing that everyone everywhere is just a few clicks away.
On a screen, it's easy to jam more busyness into each moment, so that is exactly what we do. Eventually the mind falls into a mode of thinking, a kind of nervous rhythm that's inherently about finding new stimuli, new jobs to perform. This carries over into the rest of our lives; even when we're away from screens, it's hard for our minds to stop clicking around and come to rest.
The digital consciousness can't tolerate three minutes of pure focus.
The more we connect, the more our thoughts lean outward. There's a preoccupation with what's going on "out there" in the bustling otherworld, rather than "in here" with yourself and those right around you. When you can reach out and touch the whole world, a part of you guiltily feels you should be reaching out.
Turn off your computer. You're actually going to have to turn off your phone and discover all that is human around us.
Technology companies tout the many-splendored connectedness of digital tools as their chief advantage: the more people and information you can connect with and the faster and more intensely, the better. But after a while, all that flitting around does something terrible to your inner life. It denies you the very thing you went to the screen for in the first place: happiness.
When a crowd adopts a point of view en masse, all critical thinking effectively stops. The maximalist dogma is particulatly difficult to challenge because it's all about joining the crowd, so it's self-reinforcing. There was an inexorability to it, a sense that if you didn't hop on the digital bandwagon and stay there, you'd be left behind.
There's a feeling, an impulse that surfaces regularly now in all kinds of situations, personal and professional. It's the desire for a reprieve, a break from the digital crowd. It's in the immense popularity of yoga and other meditation practices, which now serve as useful, albeit temporary, respites from digital busyness.