Simple thoughts for engaging technology

1. Think about context. Are you leaving the location of your body? And when you return, will you be disappointed with the meanness of your physical context? Or, will you stay anchored to physical reality, invigorated and equipped to engage your tangible surroundings?

2. Think about volume. Is doing more really better? Perhaps hyperactivity helps you cope with the unsatisfying nature of your tasks. Better to choose fewer,
more meaningful activities. Instead of moving nowhere fast, move slowly to that which inspires you.

3. Think about materials. Do you favour highly manufactured and mysterious objects over basic and transparent things? Consider the labour and the land behind them. Is their manner of production pleasing, does it signify justice and beauty for you?

4. Think about reality. Do you prefer close-ups and instant replays? When we perceive the world through screens and speakers, it’s easy to favour a reality that is brilliant, pliable and rich. Philosopher Albert Borgmann calls this the “glamour” of hyperreality. In contrast, reality is dull, inflexible and slow. It requires patience, discernment, grace and fortitude.

5. Think about thinking. Can you remember details from last week? Can you concentrate on an essay, meditate in silence? As we fail to recall, we begin to lose our bearings, our identity. Are your thoughts expanding. How will you remember who you are if the system goes down?

6. Think about privilege. Do your habits and acquisitions augment the distance between the strong and the weak, rich and poor, manager and clerk, owner and dependents, white and black, indigenous and immigrant? Power can be shared, and power will be taken. Privilege affords open avenues of solidarity: greater burdens, but also deeper joys.

7. Think about divinity. “Something is of ultimate concern if it is divine in a catholic sense, if it is greater and more enduring than myself, a source of gratitude and solace and of delight,” says Albert Borgmann. Eloquence, enthusiasm and sympathy emanate from those preoccupied with such ultimate concerns. Does the fabric of your life allow this to unfold?

Issue 20

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 20, Winter 2010, The Super Cyber issue.

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