As I have written before, I love when presented with a new twist on an old idea. So it was on the weekend when I read an article by Michael Harris in the Globe where the author wrote 'I have forgotten how to read.' He was talking about a book or a whole article. It twigged a conversation I had, oh about 6 months ago when my website fellow mentioned the same thing. He said he was too impatient to read a full length article let alone sit down with a book. Seems our digital technologies are indeed shifting the way we take in information. I had resisted the notion that I too was developing a shorter attention span! Yet it's true. It takes a real effort somedays to read to the end of an article rather than just browse the title and first few paragraphs. I can still chug through a book but gee it better be pretty darn interesting and fast paced!!
There are secondary effects of this needing to be engaged at such a constant level. Author Nicolas Carr (The Shallows) has suggested that "digital technologies are training us to be more conscious and more antagonistic towards delays of all sorts." Think of the implications of this. As I did certainly driving in traffic came to mind. I tend to drive just over the speed limit and yet constantly have other drivers sitting on my backside just waiting for a chance to get around. Grocery and other line-ups is another place to experience loads of impatience and rudeness towards those doing their jobs. Send an email and get huffy if someone doesn't reply right away. And texts are expected to be an immediate response ( I know Jane has her phone on ALL THE TIME. Why isn't she texting back!!). Have an issue with a service provider, email your question. We'll get back to you within 2 business days. WHAT?!? ........ You get the idea.
Then in a societal sense we are losing the ability and patience for due process. People are convicted in the social media sphere without all the facts. No explanation afterwards or during is good enough if I feel you are wrong! We want immigrants to hurry up and integrate so they are like us (and yet aren't), minority groups to just get on with 'it', old people to quit taking time and resources. Our sense of urgency and impatience has permeated so much. We get tired, frustrated, bored easily and want to move onto something less messy. This isn't serving us.
So how does one navigated enjoy the (now not so new) technologies and maintain a sense of perspective and remember those larger rhythms of time? My thinking is it is about catching your self in moments of impatience. Slowing oneself down, even briefly, to regain as sense of equilibrium. Be mindful of the degree your technology has you in it's grip. (Digital providers are admitting to wanting to bind you more and more to your phone/ their app.)
The world needs cooler heads, less reactivity, more playing a 'long game.' On this one you can make a difference!