Being unwell for most of this weekend marked a slight change in my normal reading routine. Instead of reading some more reformation church history for my current college subject, I started reading Jabberwocky and The Hunting of the Snark (prior to this weekend, I’d only heard the latter as a musical). I can put this down to a podcast episode I was half listening to (TVO Big Ideas – Adam Gopnik on Christian Writers and Liberal Readers) that, at the end, talked about the hidden meanings to Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenter.
Both poems I read on my iPhone, via a Google search. It’s gratifying to read something from another century, and especially to read something long-form and from another century.
A week or so ago I read a post by Jack Cheng called The Slow Web (which I first encountered via a post from Mark Bernstein). The very idea of a “slow web” jumped out from the hundreds of other things I read that day: could the web, which seems to generate multiple articles every time Apple or Twitter sneezes, be described by “Slow”?
The slow web is a movement that is making itself known. Web services that update not in milliseconds, but “sometime the next day” are an attempt to restore some humanity to the lives that we so readily throw away in pursuit of the very latest news.
But – as the article “Technology Doesn’t Ruin Our Lives,We Do” suggests – this is still a matter of choice. If it’s work that is making us stay connected to the Internet all the time, then we need to gather together as a workforce to moderate expectations and make them more liveable. There have been precedents in the time of industrial revolution – is a life spent constantly working the most valuable way that we can spend our lives? Is moving our social interaction online improving the quality of our relationships, or impoverishing them?
In a Facebook conversation with an old friend during a mutual time of insomnia, we talked about the need to make time for face-to-face conversations: having people around for a barbecue and just talking to them. The irony that this conversation could not have taken place without social media is not lost on me.
I had the chance to catch up with a friend I’ve known for over 20 years recently: it’s valuable to get that kind of perspective on life every so often. It’s one thing to muse on the question “what would my 15 year old self think of the adult I’ve become”, but there’s slightly more insight to be had to ask someone who’s known you since you were 15.
In some ways, it’s a naive question. There’s no way my 15 year old self would have a sufficiently full understanding of life to understand the decisions that I’ve made these past years. But if the answer to that question is troubling to you, it might be worth asking “what is ruining your life?” A hint. It’s probably not the technology.
For me, I’m not feeling that anything is ruining my life, and that’s a good place to be.