2011 Year in Review
Blue Whales
Christmas Carol
Duty to Object
Evenhanded Pursuit of Truth
Flood and Bush
Never There or Here
Review: Sufjan Stevens' Age of Adz
Space Flight
Success With Values
Terrible Kids Music
The Nineties
Year in Review

Never There Or Here For That Matter

I am never anywhere anymore.

And neither are you. Are you ok with it? Because in theory I hate it, but in practicality I am not doing anything about it.

I hear you. I know you are saying to me, “I am right here reading your post. What are you saying?”

I am saying I never go anywhere anymore without being fully connected to somewhere else. I travel everywhere with the world in my pocket on a device that I should be able to contact any and every one of my friends in a matter of moments. That is if the bloody thing was actually a functioning phone.

So I should be at dinner with my wife, but instead I am enjoying a quick laugh with you about your shopping excursion. She is connecting with the high school acquaintance that lives 1000 miles away. It is romantic. I take a picture so I can remember how much I liked it, but I really don’t know how I feel about it because I am busy feeling about everything else.

Consume–I am never full.

What is the last update? Did something else happen? Oh, it’s just a politically motivated post by the friendly radical. I’ll just put this thing away. Buzz. Work email? Spam. Click to darken screen and back to dinner. Buzz. Work email? Yes, but not to me. Just comes to my team. I don’t delete it, but I won’t look at it again.

Where am I? What am I actually doing here?

Next problem: Because I am never here, I don’t give anything full effort anymore. Do you remember what it was like to apply yourself for an extended amount of time without any distraction? I am not sure I do. I tell the kids, “Give your best all the time.” I am a drunk telling them not to touch the stuff.

Did you make it this far without looking at something else? Place a call? Get a tweet? Not me. I took a call, sent a text and went to get coffee.

This problem occurs in every setting: work, home, church, whatever. Do I feel guilty about my distraction when my employer pays me to give my all to the job? No. If they can get me at all times, why do I worry if I am always on my own time. Even that is not a true statement. I am not even on “my own time.” Time has no owner anymore.

By the way, what should you be doing right now? I doubt reading this article is on your to-do list. How guilty do you really feel about postponing the top item? Don’t worry; you’ll get to it.

And now the clarion call to eliminate the ultra-connectivity that drives our post-modern lives… (By the way, how vain is that? That is so post-modern to call something post-modern. But post-modern refuses to be labeled, so let’s just skip that.) actually no. I am honestly not going to do anything about this. I still love having the world in my pocket. If the entirety of my existence is not immediately available, then I am afraid that because yours is I will miss something important. I must keep up. As long as I don’t have to wear one of those utility belt cases, then it really doesn’t bother me that much.

Besides the expectation is that I am always available. If I was not, then people would be annoyed. Customers and friends alike might stop calling. This is a real fear, not an exaggeration.

So I continue to maintain my availability even if I am patently unavailable. I will continue to be nowhere because I am expected to be everywhere. And so will you.

Tell me I’m wrong. Convince me that my Orwellian reality is my own psychosis. Tell me that I can be treated, saved, present. Really, I’m begging you.

This post has 2 responses.

When I read Wheat’s article, I found myself nodding along. I’m certainly one who enjoys being plugged in at all times. Whenever I’m working at my office, I have my RSS feed open behind whatever document I’m reading or drafting. It’s uncommon if I can go ten minutes without clicking from my work window to the internet window. I still get my work done, and, honestly, when you’re slogging through case after case about violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or whatever, well, you need a break to splash some cold water on your brain from time to time.

So, are we wrong? Well, we may not be wrong, but I think we do lose something when we live so disconnectedly. I recently read a post discussing how we* are losing the capacity for deep thought and contemplation because we are constantly flitting from one thing to the next. I think there is something to this. It’s hard to remember the last time I totally immersed myself in something. I do still reflect on things after the fact, ruminate on them, make connections, and try to see what’s going on beneath the surface. But I rarely give my total concentration to what I’m doing in the moment. I can’t but believe that I’m missing something because of this.

*We being society. Not the three of us in this blog. That would have been a little strange.

Wheat’s post also made me think of the idea of presence in Scripture. The Temple carried such great symbolic weight for the Jews, in part, because it represented God’s presence, His shekinah, with his chosen people. God manifested His presence through the pillar of fire and pillar of cloud, and His presence rested in the Temple when Solomon dedicated it. And, of course, inside the Temple was the showbread, the bread of the presence (or, literally, the bread of the face). Through these symbols, it seems, God was telling his people that, yes, He really did choose Israel as his people and had turned His face toward them.

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Neither Here nor There

The Great Multiplier

Ahhhh the Internet – the medium through which this message is relayed. As Water rightly said, it has no moral proclivities; it is only a faster medium and a multiplier. So what does that reveal about Wheat’s post: Never There Or Here For That Matter? Since I am but one small ingredient, I will try to strip back the multiplication and see what we are adding up over and over and over again. If this one plus one plus one process makes my post overly verbose, then please excuse my dear Aunt Sally.

You’ve lost your home

In Thomas Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree, he states that there are two ways to take away someone’s home, by force and by making it look like everyone else’s home. In the book he recounts visiting the Middle East and while going through the market place surrounded by the beautiful sights, smells and sounds, he turns the corner and is faced with none other than the Colonel, who is looking down with omnipresent greatness and a legion of Kentucky Fried Chickens.

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