I fear my new-found opinion of over use and abuse of the internet will make me sound like an anti-smoking zealot two days after I quit smoking. Last week I read a book called Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers. I actually would not have even come across this book if it were not for someone who follows me on Twitter recommending it.

PUT IT DOWN – SHAKESPEARE DID

May 21, 2012by tracey Comments

 

I fear my new-found opinion of over use and abuse of the internet will make me sound like an anti-smoking zealot two days after  quitting  smoking.

Last week I read a book called Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers. I actually would not have even come across this book if it were not for someone who follows me on Twitter recommending it, which makes it a bit ironic.

The book feels like what we have all been wanting and needing to hear, you can be plugged in and plug out when you desire. You can drive the car of modern technology, not sit in the back and have it drive you.

One Sentence Summary: From the publisher — “A crisp, passionately argued answer to the question that everyone who’s grown dependent on digital devices is asking: “Where’s the rest of my life?”

Powers divides the book into two parts. The first half he looks at seven historical figures from Socrates to Marshall McLuhan with five interesting guys in between including Shakespeare.  He points out how in each of their life times a major technological advancement arrived on the scene causing the great thinkers to question what was going to happen to society as they knew it.

Now compared to iChat the invention of the written word does not seem like a big deal, but if you consider the only form of thought transmission was oratorical up until then, you can see how Socrates might have gotten his in toga in a twist when people started writing things down.

Yet Powers merry cast of seven all found ways to both utilize technological advancements while retaining their inner, thoughtful lives.

Powers uses the second part of the book to give examples how he and some of his friends have stayed plugged in but keep it in check.

I have spoken to many people lately, some of who like myself have developed a huge part of their life online and everyone feels the roar of the crowd to be deafening much of the time. The inability to escape the throngs and the pulls and the tugs of the zillions of rooms of information we all have access to at any given second tend to make one anxious, and if you are anxious to begin with – well.

Powers book is immensely helpful in guiding one to a more balanced way of living in this very noisy age.

We were at a dinner over the weekend two people at the table were glued to their devices; it was a fancy dinner in a restaurant. It was beyond rude.  I called my dinner companion on it at one point; I said, “What is so interesting?”

I wasn’t’ sitting with Hilary Clinton, Syria’s future was not going to be decided by this person looking at Instagram.

I went home and thought about it, taking out your phone and reading messages and glancing at photos during a dinner party is no different than sitting down with a magazine and reading while the table carries on around you. If someone did that everyone’s jaws would drop, but somehow we have accepted this very rude behavior that is becoming habitual for an entire generation.

It’s not only affecting  basic social skills like say conversation, but it’s creating new forms of ADD and narcissistic disorders at an alarming rate.

One young person just said to me when I brought up this topic, but it’s all around what are you supposed to do?

You’re supposed to do what one does with most everything in life, know the time and place and make the right choices.

Turn down the volume.  Breath.  Think. Pick up a pen and paper and write in an old fashion notebook is one of Powers and Seneca’s suggestions. Well, it would have been papyrus for Seneca.  Just sit.  Take a walk. Reconnect with you.  You might have forgotten how, but reading Powers book makes you want to rediscover it all over again.