The Joy of Missing Out
eBook - ePub

The Joy of Missing Out

Finding Balance in a Wired World

Christina Crook

  1. 208 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

The Joy of Missing Out

Finding Balance in a Wired World

Christina Crook

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About This Book

  • Some surveys suggest that we spend over 7 hours a day on some form of technology; Digital Detox examines the implications of a technologically focused life and the dynamic possibilities for those longing to cultivate a richer on and off-line existence.
  • Through historical data, type-written letters, chapter challenges and personal accounts
    from prominent artists, broadcasters, and thinkers, the book creates a convincing case for increasing intentionality in our day-to-day lives.
  • While other books reveal the pitfalls of computer and smartphone overuse, no other mainstream titles help lead readers into a balanced and lively existence in their day-to-day lives.
  • The author discovered during her "internet fast" that the smartphone check-ins that she had been making multiple times a day were actually time suckers, not time savers.
  • With her extra time, the author was able to engage with new ideas, read books, study and create.
  • Book club discussion questions are included at the end of the book
  • Since unplugging from the internet for 31 days, the action which spawned this books as well as the Letters from a Luddite project, the author has been featured on the CBC radio show, Spark, and has written about technology for UPPERCASE magazine, Geez magazine, Today's Parent, New York-based journal The Curator.

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Information

Year
2015
ISBN
9781550925722
1
Personhood
The Greatest Tablet in the World
Out of the crooked timber of humanity, nothing entirely straight can be built.
— Kant
MY EYES ARE BRIGHT WITH READINESS.
I hoist myself upon the metal frame, balancing as I locate the pedals beneath my feet, readying for the open road. I’ve waited for this ride for days, years. It has long been a dream of mine to pedal a basket-adorned bicycle down a long country road, and today is the culmination of this small, yet urgent dream.
I climb on. Steady myself. Sneakers resting firmly as my hands close in around the black-speckled handlebars. I check the road: empty. And I am off.
Quickly, I’m barreling down Thomas Haynes Drive, past the Ecological Reserve and an indifferent herd of 15 or so cattle. I continue. It’s 11 AM and the sun is nearly straight overhead, but a gentle breeze is carrying me — cooling my already-flushed cheeks, combing my loosely-tied hair and peeling the fatigue from my frame and my face, replacing it with calmness. Joy.
I press on, and pedal up the hills. Shoulder-high corn fields pass me on the right. I can see they’re nearly ready for picking. The Dover Creek Farm disappears behind me, on my left. Cracks, creases and patchwork cement flow beneath my sneakers as they pedal wildly. And I am free.
This ride feels like living. Like life after numb. The remembering, the carelessness of childhood which is, in its essence, the most true living of all. It’s the perfect embrace of beauty. Of time and place. The unhurried presentness a seven-year-old has mastered. She hasn’t had time to numb. She hasn’t yet descended into the torturous loss of perfect love. She hasn’t said goodbye to daddy, mommy. She hasn’t yet locked up the first, middle or last parts of her heart. Her eyes are still fierce with life, clear as an untouched glacial spring. She is new. She is here. She is now.
I bend low, careening down a steep hill, when, suddenly, a deer appears in the clearing. As I slow, my foot grazes the spokes, startling the animal who turns and darts from the shoulder just as I pass.
I am well over half-way. My destination: the Junction Café in the heart of town, which later reminds me of the Whistlestop from the film Fried Green Tomatoes, which I love.
I am coasting now. I close my eyes, just for a moment. I want to feel the ride without seeing it. Scents and sounds emerge: the soft whistling of wind streaming past my ears, and the smells drawn through my nostrils — a mixture of dried straw, distant manure and the freshness of this morning’s early dew.
I reemerge to the startle of a sprinkler throwing a refreshing haze onto my course. It lasts for: one-mississippi, two-mississippi, three . . . gone. My legs are beginning to tire, but yesterday’s drive reminds me there are only a few miles of straight road ahead. I sigh and reach for my water bottle.
I can feel the greyness fleeing. Colors are becoming more vivid. The greens are a rainbow now: autumn winter tones, lemonade, ginger, palm — the world is spilling over. I can feel my breath slow. Deeper now, deeper. I am slipping, now, along the road, effortlessly.
And later, in the heart of this small northwestern town, I pick a book off the coffee shop shelf and read this:
“For man, the vast marvel is to be alive. For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive. . . . We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive and in the flesh, and part of the living, incarnate cosmos.”
— D. H. Lawrence, Apocalypse
Yes, indeed.
Seeing Life
“To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud; to see strange things — machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the jungle and on the moon; to see man’s work — his paintings, towers, and discoveries; to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to; to see women that men love and many children; to see and take pleasure in seeing; to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed.”
— Henry Luce
For nearly a century, these words guided LIFE, the world’s preeminent photojournalism magazine. The motto, written by LIFE’s founding editor Henry Luce, still resonates.
Poverty. Prosperity. Success. Sickness. Life. It’s not tidy. In the flood of birth, the stillness of death, and everywhere in between, life is a mess. People are not strong; we are needy, frail. Alone we falter, together we rise. When we peel back the pages of time, we see this has always been the way. Some things never change.
The Design of People
We are living in an upside-down world. Our wild, strong bodies are sedentary. Intimacy is down, and passivity and isolation are up. Our weak, needy hearts are lonely. We are anxious, tired, overwhelmed, and addicted to technologies we don’t fully understand, yet our culture has little to say about something we all feel. We are barreling down the highway of technological “progress,” and no one’s got the playbook; the rules of the road are yet to be written.
One powerful factor that shields technology from serious examination, says philosopher Albert Borgmann, is liberal democratic individualism: the notion that the individual is to be the judge of what is the good life for him or her. But, perhaps, there is a universal good life. And to find it, we must take notes from the signposts all around us.
“Sit as little as possible; credit no thought not born in the open and while moving freely about — in which the muscles do not hold festival.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche
The Greatest Tablet in the World
The human eye, with its retina and ocular nerves, is magnificent in its design, and, astoundingly, no different today than it was thousands of years ago.
For millennia, human infants have preferred to look at faces that engage them with a mutual gaze; this leads to the formation of the synapses necessary for socializing and founding relationships. It is within our first six months of life that, by probing people’s eyes and faces for positive or negative mood signs, we learn who to trust, how to smile, and that eyes are the indicators of where our attention lies.
We are face readers from infancy.
It is said that the eye is the gateway to the soul. Eyes seek out other eyes and, through a series of rapid, repeated scans of the face and body, we decipher the social and emotional information needed to nurture, flirt, sell, teach, converse and make love.
Connected to the eyes is the face, vital to the expression of emotion among humans and among numerous other species. Even more than our eyes, the face is crucial for human identity; any damage such as scarring or developmental deformities has effects stretching beyond those of solely physical inconvenience.
Facial expression is vital for human recognition and communication, and the more than 40 facial muscles in a human face control our expressions as we respond to touch, temperature, smell, taste, sounds and visual stimuli.
Human communication, according to South African academic Rembrandt Klopper, is underpinned by a social survival imperative, because we are not, as he puts it, “merely brains in nutrient-rich vats that can exist in isolation of other humans.” We are brains, clad in bodies that interact with other body-clad brains in order to exist, survive and thrive.
Being able to read emotion in another’s face is the fundamental basis for empathy. The ability to interpret a person’s reactions and predict the probability of others’ behaviors is called mirroring. The process of learning and teaching, of communication, involves exchange, back and forth. It’s why calling someone and getting their voicemail or posting updates online without an exchange of ideas can feel flat.
Reading people is a learned skill. A recent study looking at individuals judging forced and genuine smiles found that older adult participants outperformed young adults in distinguishing between posed and spontaneous smiles. This suggests that with experience and age we become more accurate at perceiving true emotions.
Some studies show that eye contact has a positive impact on the retention and recall of information and may promote more efficient learning. This is important to note because, as we will learn in Chapter 12, people — adolescents in particular — who communicate primarily by text, are losing their ability to read faces and, subsequently, to empathize. (For more on this, read about award-winning actor Astrid van Wieren’s work coaching kids and teens in reading facial expression.)
Eyes, face, mouth, body. You could say...

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright
  4. Contents
  5. Introduction
  6. 1. Personhood: The Greatest Tablet in the World
  7. 2. Information Overload: How We Got Here
  8. 3. Better Off?: Yes, BUT
  9. 4. Dusting Off the Dictionary: Why Definitions Matter
  10. 5. Introduction to Part Two: Presentness
  11. 6. Why Fast from the Internet?: Finding What Sustains
  12. 7. Gaining the Time: Implementing Constraints
  13. 8. Quitting the Comparison Game: Reclaiming Delight
  14. 9. Coming Close: Trust
  15. 10. Introduction to Part Three: The Way Forward
  16. 11. Reorienting a Life: Learning Our Lessons Longhand
  17. 12. Little Eyes and Ears: Leading by Example
  18. 13. Making Space to Create: Discipline Is the Path to Freedom
  19. 14. Hereon in: Check in, Check Out
  20. Conclusion: This Will Be Joy
  21. Recommended Reading
  22. Bibliography
  23. About the Author