There’s a big part of me that rebels against that statement. More than half of me is as disgusted with “technological advances” as the next luddite. I feel a large inner pull to disappear into a forest somewhere, with no electricity, no phone, no wireless. I met a man like that one time, when I was living at a remote hostel in the wilds of British Columbia. I literally stumbled into his homestead while on a hike, and found him sitting on a log in the sunshine. He was feeding seed to the birds and chipmunks, which were gathered around him like he was Snow White. I was hiking with a friend, and the three of us struck up a conversation, about the realities of this stranger’s existence. The man was gruff and grizzly, but when asked if he ever got lonely, he looked at us like we were crazy and said, “Why would I be lonely when I have all this?” as he gestured to the birds, trees, sky. Why, indeed?
To say that I feel concern about the continuing impact of computers on us socially, developmentally, environmentally, and culturally, would be an understatement. I certainly will not be rushing out to buy a baby touchscreen computer, nor am I interested in having a computer in my eye, and I am terrified at the realization that this is the wave of my daughter’s future.
We were all witness this past spring to the uprising in arab countries, due in large part to organization via social media. While it could be said that this kind of witnessing is akin to the passivity experienced while watching reality TV, I remain curious as to what is brewing in the subterranean depths of our collective consciousness. I think that the mass witnessing of events all over the world is shaping our future in ways that we have yet to dream of.
This past weekend, I was privileged to attend a conference on ecopsychology, presented by Holos Institute, where I am an intern. One of the resounding themes of the day was the (often overlooked) importance of a sense of PLACE. Where did you grow up? Are you still there? What kind of relationship did you have with the land, with the flora and fauna, with the spirits of nature? Do you have a sense of place now? How does that impact you?
It is a theme not unfamiliar to this blog, but for many folks I am aware it is a topic wholly unregarded. It can be difficult to communicate, even more complicated to locate internally….which leads me to REASON NUMBER ONE why the internet gives me hope. Access to creative brilliance can be not only inspiring, but in this case heartbreaking enough to illuminate within why home and relationship to place is central and core.
(Click on photo for link)
The testament for REASON NUMBER TWO is…well, you’re reading it! If you know me in real life, this will come as no surprise, but for those of you who don’t…socially, I’m a bit of a locked box. Introverted, inclined to be shy, a true INFP on that Meyers-Briggs scale, with a reserved persona that often comes off as stuck-up and aloof…the quiet perceptions that make up my reality are not something I feel able to share in casual conversation. Never one for the snappy come-back, my deepest thoughts and reactions are latent, secret and private. My sense of being “different” has been a source of social ostracization and fertile ground for melancholy. Through my writing here, I have not only been able to express myself in a way that feels safe and whole, but that has allowed me to feel witnessed individually and has enriched my relationships with others in real life. Where I may not have seemed approachable before, now interactions are infused with warmth. Many before me have sounded the beat of the blogger drum, but I will sound it again…blogging has enabled me to make connections with soulful others that I NEVER would have come into contact with otherwise. Now instead of feeling isolated and sore thumb-ish, I find I am in good company.
Which leads me into REASON NUMBER THREE. Can I get three cheers for the It Get’s Better project?
The spotlighting of the plight of LGBTQ youth (and adults still hiding in terror) in the past year is wholly due, I think, to the dissemination of information and videos like the one above. The internet also makes information accessible to rural communities…and I wonder how my childhood and teenage years would have been different if I had known that not everyone in the world was a cold-hearted red neck.
Growing up in a staunchly republican town was painful for a myriad of reasons, but one of the biggest was the constant invalidation of my perceptions regarding animals and nature. One of our most pervasive (and most blindly ignorant) cultural myths is the one that justifiies subordination of the creatures we share the earth with. Cartesian paradigms have created schisms in the connection to self and other, the biggest of the others being all those in the animal kingdom. Make fun of all the LOLcat videos on youtube if you want, but I think they are serving a very, very profound purpose. Every day I am heartened by video testimony of the sentience of animals. The idea that animals don’t have feelings is quickly being replaced by what we have all secretly known all along…we are not alone. (REASON NUMBER FOUR)
(Big thanks to America for turning me on to this video.)
Which brings me full circle back to REASON NUMBER FIVE…the power of connection. To not only connect in terms of messaging or organization, but to connect to heart. The internet will never be a substitute for experiencing a foreign country in real time. And we have had books and film for quite a while now. Yet, I have also never been moved to streaming tears by an encyclopedia. Reading testimony in a daily travel blog has given me an inner vision of places that I know I will never go to. We can’t all travel the world, but it is imperative that we have a sense of our actions on a global scale. We need to care, deeply, about not only the plight of the earth or its people, but also the plight of the heart. We need to unite, and I think we have the tool. (You may have seen this, but it’s always worth seeing again.)
Does the internet give you hope or despair or apathy?