(It is kind of a rant that started with Steve Jobs and ended as a manifesto, with a lot of questions in the middle. Hope this is not just amusing to me…)
Dear Steve Jobs,
Yerm, urm, ahm, I believe you have been a pioneer in forever changing the landscape of human interactions, and connectivity. You have laid the foundation for the Metaverse. From this point onward, a more instantaneous, keyboard firing, graphically interfaced, universally connected version of human existence is blossoming as we speak. There will forever forwards hover a metalayer of human activity, non-physical, over our very physical, very material existence. Por ejemplo, at a dinner party, everyone, at some point, will text somebody. Someone may update their facebook status while in the room to communicate to hundreds of connections that, “I am at a dinner party!” Someone else will be chatting to a few guests about their new completely web-based NGO that will be launching in a few days. Steve Jobs, this meta-layer not only hovers over us, but sometimes drenches us, bears down on us, or consumes us. I am in a coffee shop where 85% of the patrons are on their laptops, many of them Macs. A metrolink operator a few months ago reeled off the tracks when texting on his iPhone. Hundreds were injured or killed. For my job, where all of the people I work with live in an 8 mile radius of my office, I do most of my communicating with them by telephone or email.
And we accept this new world order because it fits well with our old one. Isn’t human connectivity one of those primordial but continously important things that we need to do in life? Doesn’t it enrich it? Isn’t it an integral part of the human experience?
But where’s the balance between online and offline connectivity? Between relying on social media and having deeper experiences of each other? In the realm of human connection, we have a spectrum of activities to examine. Excellent conversations. Debates. Hand-written letters. And then texts, tweets, blogs, facebook status posts, a new, wondrous bite-sized snapshot of our existence. The one end of the spectrum calls for deep investment. The other end gives us a continuous feed of what may be happening in the lives of others, but may short-change our capacity to relate.
Balance. Balance. That’s one of the many points of starting the 100 days of letter writing.
Some other reasons:
Political reasons: NPR says the US Postal service is going bankrupt. Can a postcard project create a domino effect? Can we bail out the postal service simply by increasing our investment in relationality?
Everyday creativity stuff…forcing myself to do it in an hour every day. Forcing it to be everyday. building a practice that could become lifelong…needing practices, like meditation, writing, reflecting.
Figuring out how to organize my inner and outer lives--going to picnicks, and writing, and working, and messing around, and watching netflix movies…what should I be putting into my day? What is my objective in living? To relate? To change things? To do some combination of both? To enjoy the present? Or to build momentum for other things to come in my life???
Is all this about attention or is it about relating? Of course I’m doing nothing new by writing letters or blogging about it…but does it matter that it is original or does it matter that I am doing it? Should maybe the principal objective of this be to spur myself into inhabiting my right hemisphere, being creative, writing, and also into relating to the people I care about? Strengthening relationships here on earth? Who knows what will really come of this? Maybe nothing, maybe something.
This is the summer. It is about creativity. It is about inviting and invoking the juicy gods of inspiration and thought…and letting them flow with abundance.
And it is also about doing this with others. Write with us! Be creative with us! Do something at a pace of your choosing this summer! Blogs! Cooking! Painting, drawing, dancing, choreography, writing, flashmobbing…
I CAN USE SOCIAL MEDIA and not be USED BY social media. I had been plotting my own facebook death for days. I was in the extreme of, well fuck me if this isn’t all big brother, and what I have I traded in in order to read a news feed? What kind of lonely ass existence is this?
But then on the other hand, could I or should I shun all the technological advances available to me now? Blogging is one of the better ones, no? Is it so wrong to be able to email people? If I police the privacy settings on facebook, it is nice to look at pictures of people’s lives and share some of mine with them.
So here’s the balance. Be creative with others!!!!! Use a blog as a tool! Limit my consumption of other social media, as I have been doing recently with sugar and refined foods…everything in balance. Use the phone more! Figure out skype! Keep finding ways to use the technology to connect! But yea, still go to barbeques, don’t use blogging as a substitute for having lunch with someone. Write some letters! And then check out completely and have time for myself. Take walks, look at stars, think, breathe, empty it all out, take it all back in. Live and live and keep living until I am dead and gone and dusty and allow these brief moments of ink on paper or text on plasma screens to be enjoyed in the present, and let go. And yes, I can write all of this in one blog post and not worry about whether or not the inspiration gods will smite me and leave my mind barren for the remainder of the summer, because I am sitting on the tip of the iceberg. There’s plenty of stuff to come out of me yet. I’m in this writing frenzy and I can’t trust whether or not I’ll remember everything, but it is okay, Ill give some of it back to the atmosphere. I’ll breath inspiration in and breathe out a few ideas that maybe someone else can take in through the ether. All ideas mustn’t have to come through me.
Last thing, most important, I should have the discipline of writing letters in a timed way where things are rough around the edges, where the improvisational spirit should be honored. The spontaneous crap I write shouldn’t be overly edited or crafted. Writing it and letting it go. Building mandalas grain by grain.