Amusing Ourselves to Death

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This year I had a pretty big awakening about how I was interacting with technology that completely didn’t work for me. I could literally feel it changing my brain.

(The Shallows by Nicholas Carr — great book!)

I can be resistant to change. We all can. But this “ah ha” was big enough that I actually changed pretty much everything about how I was structuring my life.

As one result, you haven’t seen me online oh so much. (I actually had to “find” my computer for a recent trip. I hadn’t opened it in over a week. What?!?!)

As another result, I’ve been reading like crazy. And sitting silently a ton.

Today’s video is from something I was reading this morning by Neil Postman.

You may have been forced to read 1984 by George Orwell in high school. If not, you’ve probably at least heard the term “Big Brother.” It’s about a future of tyranny and oppression.

But there was this other book, a Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It described a world not destroyed by tyranny and oppression but by trivialities, distraction and pleasure.

In “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, Neil Postman is commenting on them both.

A few snippets if you aren’t a video watching type:

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.

Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared that the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.”

I see a lot of Huxley’s future in today. I see it in groups of people at lunch, all on their phones instead of talking. I see it in our need to like and comment and tweet and capture just about everything, often missing the very sunset we need to document.

The beautiful thing is we don’t have to fear any of those things in the Huxley future.

Instead we can simply look at ourselves and ask “is there any truth in that for me? And is it leading me to becoming the person I would like to be?”

If not… we get to change it. I do. You do.

Take your shoes off and go walk on the earth.

Spend an hour in silence with yourself every morning. Or heck, 5 minutes, three times a day.

Replace you time clicking links and liking and YouTube for one day with a cup of tea and something nourishing to read.

Lay on the earth.

Pick up a small animal.

Pray. Meditate. Move.

Yes, there is a collective future we are all creating together. But when we get there, you are in control of the way your mind works and who you are and how you process information and react to things.

No one can take that away unless you give it away.

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