Distractable Society: Have we reached a consensus on our gear?


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consensus seems to have emerged in our discussions this week of our Distractable Society and the new communication technologies.
    “Contemplation, critical thinking and personal interrelatedness are being lost to these tools of distraction,” says Tom Caprel. “All the meetings I facilitate are computer-free zones. It’s amazing what gets decided when people have to look into each other’s eyes and hold a conversation!”
     “We want to ‘be there’ in terms of social and other relationships to people,” says Allan Schnaiberg. “However, our communication technologies encourage instead inter-person transactions – isolated bits and pieces of messages, largely devoid of thinking of each other as whole people.”
    Eoghan told us that he ended a friendship with someone who couldn’t have dinner with him for two hours without cell phone interruption.
     “New technology is enticing,” Deb (dnrevel on twitter) says, “flashy, status seeking, addictive. So when friendship is challenged over cell phone interruptions, some boundary has failed to form (yet) for one person where it has formed for another. Basic relationship values are being tested.”
    Brian Krenz worries about the techno-distractibility of his Millennial generation, but there might be hope. “Texting and usage of technology seem to distract our kids, says Christine. “But having worked with a lot of teens as an educator and librarian, I will tell you that it is something they will grow out of it. It is crutch to hide insecurities and bashfulness and when the time is right, they throw it aside. Kids usually move on.”
    Following the Lenten theme, I asked early this week if you could give up text messaging for a day. I described some of the global issues of exploitation involved in mining the materials used in cell phones. (Scroll down on this page to look back over the week’s dialogue.)
    But Allan points out the question we didn’t ask: “Giving up text messages for Lent: Fine, but what will we do instead of this? No one argued about what to do INSTEAD of text messaging.”
    The new technologies (and those that will come) are here to stay.

    What do you do to manage all of them, using them for the efficiencies they afford but avoiding the deleterious effects on our relationships?

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