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Entries in End of Absence (1)

Saturday
Aug232014

The straddle generation and digital immigrants

A friend of mine shared an article recently that led me to purchase the book The End of Absence, by Michael Harris. Harris, a journalist, writes about the effects of being continually connected. He alludes to this as a "Gutenberg moment," drawing parallels and demonstrating differences between the effects of the printing press and the proliferation of information through the internet.

Specifically, he focuses on the fact that his generation (which is my generation) are the ones who know what life was like before the internet and after. 

If you were born before 1985, then you know what life was like both with the Internet and without. You are making the pilgrimage from Before to After. (Any younger and you haven't lived as an adult in a pre-Internet landscape). Those of us in this straddle generation, with one foot in the digital pond and the other on the shore, are experiencing a strange suffering as we acclimatize. We are the ditigal immigrants, and like all immigrants, we don't find the new world welcoming.

Harris's reserach and thoughts have brought him to the conclusion that all of this technology has created lack of absence, a principle which he will explore further in the remainder of the book. I'm only 23 pages in, and I'm hooked.

It is good that a book like this is written now. It's an interesting time. I think it's important for those of us who are in the pre-Internet age to record what our lives were like before this thing took over our world. When our generation is long dead, there will be no one who as Harris puts it,"speaks both languages."

One comment he makes really struck me:

As we embrace technology's gifts, we usually fail to consider what they ask from us in return -- the subtle, hardly noticeable payments we make in exchange for their marvelous service. We don't notice, for example, that the gaps in our schedules have disappeared because we're too busy delighting in the amusements that fill them. We forget the games that childhood boredom forged because boredom itself has been outlawed.

This is so very true. We may neglect to ask ourselves, "What consequences will this bring?" We run the extremes of completely dismissing any potential negativity and grasping on with both hands to the present time like a child grabbing onto his father's leg to keep him from going out the door. I have known both kinds of people, and have been both kinds of people. As always, somewhere in the middle is a lot better position to take.

I'm looking forward to this book.