technology and zen of life

“A heisenbug (named after the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle) is a computer bug that disappears or alters its characteristics when an attempt is made to study it.”

Slow Down!

Technology is a bitch, I tell you! You see, 50 years ago, nobody knew what a Smartphone was, let alone, our dear old iPhone and now, everybody talks about it. Some people hate it, some people love it and others can’t afford it. In the middle of it all, I seriously wonder if life would have been different if we didn’t have an iPhone. To start with, one less topic to fight over and I guess, Apple would have been closer to their niche product in Macintosh, which by the way again is a very controversial product.

We seriously believe that technology makes it all worth it. But, if you think about it, generation nerd didn’t exist 30 years ago. But, some people were still outcasts who enjoyed a Ham radio more than the company of real people. It’s a vicious circle and the more important question is, how far back we would want to go to break out of this circle when technology doesn’t affect our lives the way it does today. Or to be perfectly balanced towards people who love technology… do we really want to go back?

I think I would. And I will tell you why. Because boredom is a 21st century word. I have never seen my grandfather feeling bored. That state of mind does not exist for him. Within the rituals of everydayness that he follows, he never once complains that he is bored of them. And we, with our xBoxs and Play Stations, Facebook and Blogs, SMS and Emails and this list could go on, are perpetually looking for the next thing that might grab our attention for a few seconds. So we have RSS feeds, Google Reader, Buzz, Digg and the entire randomness of digital jargon that holds our attention for five minutes and poof! There it goes, taking away the satisfaction of doing something important in your day.

Life was simpler without Google maps, trying to tell you to turn on every street to reach your destination… you could get lost; know a city like a flâneur. Life was simple without Google search that would always tell you the best places to eat food in a city destroying the experience of eating crappy food every once in a while to appreciate good food. To be honest, I think technology is so central to making our lives comfortable that we don’t even know what comfortable means anymore.

There is warm water for cold winter mornings, destroying the experience of a cold shower that actually does make you feel really alive after the first five seconds. There is a raincoat that destroys the experience of being really drenched in the middle of a heavy downpour.  What is it about being uncomfortable once in a while, that scares us so much?

Anyway, one of these days, I am going to follow into the footsteps of people that believe in the Slow Movement. And really experiment with being away from my laptop or my “iPhone” for a couple of hours in a day. In fact, the idea of going offline escaping the gift/curse of constant communication and infinite information would probably help in being able to actually pick up a hardcover real book or a walk in the city or feeling alive without worrying about boredom.

I think, I should give up technology to not be bored.

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8 Responses

  1. Christiaan says:

    You know, I have already self-adapted me from getting away from the PC: I like to be around people and be in nature. So the weekends I mostly reserve to either mundane offline tasks like doing the laundry, cleaning or whatever in nescesary to keep live rolling. And then also slow down to for instance cook with friends, have a coffee, etc, etc. I have some pressing deadlines, and need my sleep, but I need the rest too. Also during workdays I try to go outside to have lunch or coffee. Or a phonecall to get some direct answers out of people. And have an enjoyable chat. Slowing down is not that hard if it’s essential 😉

    And focus, share your thoughts on some reserved places where you know to meet special people, like on this blog, which caught me completely and I’m totally fine with it.

    By the way, other weekends I go into nature: camping with some of my student clubs, or kayaking with my sports club. Then, being out of the house, and most of the time, out of the city and sometimes even country, seriously resets your brain. It’s good to open a new week by having a proper weekend 😉 Then you’re compromising on interesting stuff sometimes. But then again, I can always call up Navin to have some philosophical discussions, which with he most of the time has some cool link! Like the Nerd Handbook, or What Motivates Us, it’s great food for thought.

    And to be honest, I love the weekend, truely LOVE. They make me feel alive.
    And love nature, it’s a great place to spend some time. Either with a football playing with some friends, or just cruising around the city on my bike 😀

    We live in a great time 😀

  2. Martine says:

    You know, I’m going to do the real experiment when I’m in the States. In the woods there is no electricity, no signal for phone and only hard work!

  3. pretty helpful material, overall I consider this is well worth a bookmark, thanks

  4. Ron Tedwater says:

    Really nice post,thank you

  5. Navin says:

    My point was not that the cities were smaller, but it was known… Most people would stay in the same city and know most streets by heart…

    I think it is not lack of activities that make you bored as you rightly put but instead the lack of surprises of in other words the simpleness of day to day activities that they fail to engage our brain… Social networking is also a means to look for activities to engage our mind with .. to get information about other people…

    The reason you replied to my comment or I did is to engage our mind in something different that our day to day tasks and perhaps have a discussion that at this time the brain finds interesting to engage in…. that is until one of us stumbles upon piece of information that gives us a clear answer into this behavior and renders this topic “boring” for our brain

  6. Ranjit says:

    I think despite the fact that we might not have traveled across oceans in about half a day 100 years back, I think it would not be really correct to say the cities at that time were so small that nobody needed a map. The origins of cartography lie in the era of BC instead of AD.

    And people will never be satisfied with what they know and that’s not really the point that I was trying to make. What does Facebook have to do with concrete understanding of things or substantial proof? Information is good… I have no complains against it.

    I have complains against the sheer absurdity of this obsession which makes me respond to your comment. I am so addicted to this world of digital stupidity that I can’t see that sometimes all you have to do is to take a walk outside to clear your head.

    And seriously brain activity has nothing to do with boredom. Boredom is a state of mind when your brain wants to indulge in an activity but there is nothing that surprises you enough to make you engage with it. There is so much and yet, there is nothing.

  7. Navin says:

    Another view at this would be to look at it from the perspective of exponential growth in human intelligence over time… while people used to be satisfied with small amount of information in old days; now days some of us find hard to get satisfied unless we have concrete understanding of things or substantial proof to it. There were only so many ways a person would come across in his lifetime 100 years back to have the need of google maps. I am sure an average person now days comes across more roads in a day while going to work/school that a person used to do in an years time 100 years back.

    I remember reading in some article about information increase that the amount of information a man would come across in his lifetime 10 years ago was less than that what is covered in a national newspaper in a weeks time now. What I intend to say is that it is not that technology has invented boredom but maybe it is that even with ample technology we have failed to keep our brain activity at a level to not get bored.

  8. Abhishek says:

    Wow, that really hit me squarely.


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