I have always considered myself a luddite – slow to adopt new technology, warning against its potential downside. Yet here I sit, typing on my MacBook Pro, Apple Watch strapped to my wrist as my iPhone plays music through a bluetooth SONOS speaker. All after another evening ended with my ass firmly planted in my couch watching mindless television wirelessly projected onto my wall.
Lamenting our use of technology is not particularly helpful. Most of us wish we used it less.
The song, TV, by Billie Eilish is particularly stinging with a verse that sings:
“I put on Survivor just to watch somebody suffer
Maybe I should get some sleep
Sinking in the sofa while they all betray each other
What’s the point of anything?”
And a chorus that stings,
“And I don’t get along with anyone
Maybe I’m the problem
Maybe I’m the problem”
I recently interviewed the writer/humanitarian, Dave Eggers, for my podcast Attribution. His recent novel, The Every is a hilarious and haunting exploration of technology in our lives. He is not only a professed luddite but a practicing one.
At one point, when discussing how we connect with each other, he said that whenever there is a choice, he opts for the more human connection. In person always trumps online.
By comparison, I recently gave my students an assignment where in teams of two they had to create a playlist together. It was designed to be a fun introductory exercise in collaboration and one that could lay a good foundation for working together over the next few weeks.
Every team completed the assignment via text. Only one added a phone call. They all enjoyed the process and their playlists, yet no one had gotten together in person to listen to music and craft a playlist together.
I told the students the Eggers story and ended class early. Giving them the simple assignment to take the balance of our class time and spend it with their teammate outside. I didn’t care if they grabbed a cup of coffee, went for a walk or just sat in the park together chilling. In short, just be two humans “being.”
So, how are you “being” with your fellow humans lately?