Saturday
September
20
2014
3:02 am
Weather

  Home
  Local News
  State / National / World
  Sports
  Opinion / Letters
  Business
  Arts / Entertainment
  Lifestyle
  Obituaries
  Calendar
  Submit Event
  Comics / Games
  Classifieds
  DJ Designers
  Archives
  Advertise With Us
  About Us
 
 
 
 

Check out our archive of Dining Guides - Yum!

Insightful look at digital-age clutter
August 23, 2014, 05:00 AM By Matt Sedensky The

I fall asleep to the glow of Netflix and, when I awake, begin the digital litany of my day: the relentless email and news, the Facebook and Twitter feeds, the blogs and mindless videos, and on and on. I remember somewhat vaguely when I used pay phones to dictate the story of the day, when an online life was limited to the screeching dial-up of AOL and, as a child, when even that was a foreign idea.

Michael Harris offers in his book “The End of Absence” a fascinating assessment of this moment we inhabit and, for those old enough to remember, highlights the rare opportunity we have to recall what it was like before we filled our day with unstoppable status updates, conversations interrupted by Wikipedia fact checks and the suffocating weight of thousands of emails.

It’s all become so normal that it feels as if we knew all of Harris’ observations before we read them, though they remain insightful and stunning and frightening. We are denizens of a world where facts are invented, true expertise is devalued, authenticity is at a premium and, more than anything else, distractions reign.

“As we embrace a technology’s gifts, we usually fail to consider what they ask from us in return — the subtle, hardly noticeable payments we make in exchange for their marvelous service,” he writes. “We don’t notice, for example, that the gaps in our schedules have disappeared because we’re too busy delighting in the amusements that fill them. We forget the games that childhood boredom forged because boredom itself has been outlawed. Why would we bother to register the end of solitude, of ignorance, of lack? Why would we care that an absence has disappeared?”

Though Harris doesn’t totally answer those questions, he makes clear something has been lost, and it’s hard not to agree. He may be most eloquent when he sounds an alarm on behalf of those with no memory of the world before, those young minds that have been rewired by our new normal: “I fear we are the last of the daydreamers. I fear our children will lose lack, lose absence and never comprehend its quiet, immeasurable value.”

Chances are, you’ll recognize yourself in Harris’ writing and note that you, too, enjoyed a life without so much static. Toward the end of his concise work, he takes a monthlong sabbatical leave from the Internet and his cellphone and all their related trappings. He gains no epiphany, though, and offers no sweeping advice for readers. It is, he acknowledges, more meditation than prescription, but it is an illuminating, worthy reckoning of our disjointed, digital life.

 

 

Tags: those, before, though,


Other stories from today:

Insightful look at digital-age clutter
Actor Dreyfuss: Politics should be noble calling
Emmy hopefuls play the angles to nab trophies
 

 
Print this Page Print this Page  |  Bookmark and Share
<< Back
 
Return To Archives
 
  


 
 
 
Daily Journal Quick Poll
 
What do you think of Larry Ellison stepping down as CEO of Oracle?

It will still be his company
Time to pass the baton
It will give him more time for other pursuits
Don't care

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Man wanted for lewd acts in San Mateo
San Mateo police are on the lookout for a man who may be connected to two lewd incidents this week n..
Alibaba surges in its stock market debut
NEW YORK — Alibaba's stock is surging as the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse begins its first day tr..
Unemployment rates rise in 24 U.S. states in August
WASHINGTON — Unemployment rates rose in nearly half of U.S. states in August, even as employers in..
Arrest made in fatal attack at South City gym
A South San Francisco man was arrested this morning after he allegedly beat another man to death at ..
More >>  
 
 
  
 
  
 
©2014 San Mateo Daily Journal
San Mateo County notice of bulk sale