Our constant, relentless need to be “up-to-date” is an eternal vacuum with a dead end. Where do we suppose that this vortex will end? What exactly is the treasure that we think exists at the end of the newsfeed rainbow?
While our culture of technology preaches the gospel of “constant connectivity” with the fervor of a televangelist, there are a growing number of us who have realized that salvation is found the seemingly heretical choice to occasionally be out of the loop, uninformed and essentially delayed in our awareness of the electronically available “now”.
Not more than a few years ago, the word “present” denoted the immediate time and place in which you found yourself breathing. Today, the “present” has exponentially expanded in scope: it no longer means “here and now” but rather the present is “wherever and always”. At any single moment you have access to a cascading torrent of data that folds time and space in on itself. The “present” has collapsed our continuum: the past archived, the commentary of the immediate, and the prediction of the future are all reduced into a singularity, the digitally eternal “now”.
The present (in its classical definition) is a hard place to visit these days.
If we want to visit this place, we must do something that has become fundamentally counter-cultural: become temporarily ignorant of the “digital present”. Our gadgets have given us the capacity to always be “on” and in the know. To be unplugged from this gadgetry has become something of a moral negative, as if connectivity is part of our social responsibility. (If you don’t know what your friend posted on Facebook, what kind of a friend are you anyway?)
Make space for intentional delays in your knowledge consumption. Relish bouts of self-imposed ignorance. If you are not constantly monitoring a feed, you aren’t going to read the next item as soon as it is posted. In fact, you might simply miss it altogether. (Gasp. Shock. Sweaty palms.) Learn to love it. Do not only embrace the delay of disconnection occasionally, but demand it regularly. Stop by and the visit the present sometime — the real present, the space around you — and say hello.
Your mind cannot be in two places at the same time anymore than the rest of your body can be.