For the first time in hundreds of years, humans and KNOW what is going on somewhere where they’re not.
For example. A minute ago I was reading a book. But I had just posted some photos on facebook. It’s possible for me to ‘know’ what other people are doing – in real time – as they click and comment on the photos I posted.
You can go for a walk on the beach – and get texts and calls from friends in other places.
There are a thousand ways this happens every day – connected with our new technology. Our attention is split – not metaphorically – but really. We can be here – and connected by communication with unknown amounts of people somewhere else.
On the one hand, in means you need never be alone.
On the other it makes it harder to be present – here and now.
If you’ve ever tried to meditate for even five minutes you’ll know how difficult being present already is.
Now digital distractions add a whole new layer of non-present-ness. And never being alone means you never have to be bored.
I remember having a terrible time with being bored when I was a kid. My mum’s solution was to boot my brother and I out of the house – or tell us ‘if you’re bored I have plenty of chores for you to do.’
Both these solutions worked, and we always found interesting stuff to do. Nowadays with tablets, games and youtube – it’s much easier to find something to watch passively.
There’s value in getting through boredom to creativity, in being alone, and in quieting down our outside world until we can get in touch with our inner world.
It’s just that reaching this value requires more deliberate effort than it did in a pre-digital world.