Not So Fast QUESTION

There is an article in the Wall Street Journal online – it was in the paper last weekend – by John Freeman, adapted from his book “The Tyranny of E-Mail,” that really spoke to me. It was titled: “Not So Fast: Sending and receiving at breakneck speed can make life queasy; a manifesto for slow communication”.

Cogent points:
1. Speed matters…
The speed at which we do something—anything—changes our experience of it. Words and communication are not immune to this fundamental truth. The faster we talk and chat and type over tools such as email and text messages, the more our com­munication will resemble traveling at great speed. Bumped and jostled, queasy from the constant ocular and muscular adjust­ments our body must make to keep up, we will live in a constant state of digital jet lag.

This is a disastrous development on many levels…

2. The Physical World matters.
A large part of electronic commu­nication leads us away from the physical world. Our cafes, post offices, parks, cinemas, town centers, main streets and commu­nity meeting halls have suffered as a result of this development. They are beginning to resemble the tidy and lonely bedroom commuter towns created by the expansion of the American interstate system. Sitting in the modern coffee shop, you don’t hear the murmur or rise and fall of conversation but the con­tinuous, insect-like patter of typing. The disuse of real-world commons drives people back into the virtual world, causing a feedback cycle that leads to an ever-deepening isolation and neglect of the tangible commons.

This is a terrible loss…

3. Context matters

We need context in order to live, and if the environment of electronic communication has stopped providing it, we shouldn’t search online for a solution but turn back to the real world and slow down. To do this, we need to uncouple our idea of progress from speed, separate the idea of speed from effi­ciency, pause and step back enough to realize that efficiency may be good for business and governments but does not always lead to mindfulness and sustainable, rewarding relationships. We are here for a short time on this planet, and reacting to demands on our time by simply speeding up has canceled out many of the benefits of the Internet, which is one of the most fabulous technological inventions ever conceived…

This is no Luddite screed but a cautionary observation: “This is not a sustainable way to live. This lifestyle of being constantly on causes emotional and physical burnout, work­place meltdowns, and unhappiness.”

But what do YOU think? I think that *I* need to turn off the computer for a while and go for a walk.

ROG