Unplugging

 Two days ago, I blogged about not making resolutions, and concentrating on “interior intentions” instead.

A friend sent this this great link from the NYT, called “The Joy of Quiet.”

Seems to me this would be a pretty good “interior intention” for the year.

Two of my favorite quotes from this piece:

In barely one generation we’ve moved from exulting in the time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them — often in order to make more time. The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug. Like teenagers, we appear to have gone from knowing nothing about the world to knowing too much all but overnight. 

And, even more poignantly, this:

The central paradox of the machines that have made our lives so much brighter, quicker, longer and healthier is that they cannot teach us how to make the best use of them; the information revolution came without an instruction manual. All the data in the world cannot teach us how to sift through data; images don’t show us how to process images. The only way to do justice to our onscreen lives is by summoning exactly the emotional and moral clarity that can’t be found on any screen. 

O my, yes. I can’t recommend this little essay enough.

These are things I’ve been saying for some time. I think technology itself is such a double-edged sword in our lives. Sure, things like scheduling meetings, making phone calls, writing/publishing thoughts, are profoundly easier than they were a few years back. And, yes, I get that modern technology is profoundly reshaping how folks connect, and helping fuel amazing things like “The Arab Spring.”

But are we any smarter? Are we any happier? Aren’t we far too often simply bombarded with an avalanche of information, without context or filter?

We get inundated with email, so we switch to texting only to get inundated with that too. We get bored with Myspace, so we move to Facebook. We get bored with that and start Tweeting. We don’t have time to watch everything on TV, so we get TiVo. Sometimes that’s not enough for us, so we get Slingbox.

And all of it avoids the crucial point this lovely essay makes: “more data” doesn’t mean more wisdom or insight. 

The essay itself suggests some things we can do to help ourselves with these issues. Perhaps the best blogger I’ve ever read on these subjects is Tim Ferriss. What follows, then, is a lot of helpful stuff from Ferriss…

He’s written numerous blog posts on what he calls “Email Detox.” My favorites are called “How to Check Email Twice A Day,” in which he suggests that email will encroach on your life as much as you allow it. Therefore, limit the time you spend on it, and only check it a few times a day. More about it here. And here is a handy list of nine great “to dos” that can really transform how you spend your online time.

But Ferriss has taken his challenge about email into information technology in general, and an entirely different category on his blog is titled “The Low Information Diet,”  including a great blog on “Seven Tips for Fighting Information Overload,” and “How To Use Twitter Without Twitter Owning You.

Ironically, I’ve just thrown out a whompin’ load ‘o information at you…a ton of links. Probably some you won’t want to read. However, I promise that much of this can really help you, if you’ll take the time to read and consider it.

We all need to unplug more, and not lose connection with the real world. Let’s hope this can be an “interior intention” for 2012.


(As always, if you like this post, then “share it” or “like” it on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too…)

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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