Unplugging from an overly connected world
This past week, the founder of the Webby Awards, Tiffany Schlain, presented her most recent work at TEDxNASA in San Francisco. In the coming months, her new documentary film “Connected: An Autobloggraphy about Love, Death and Technology” will start to rollout nationwide. The OpenGov team had the fortunate opportunity to talk to Tiffany about what it means to live in an interdependent world and she really got us thinking about the interdependence of technology, culture, and the world as we know it.
As Tiffany pointed out, the single most important thing about technology is that you can turn it off. Think about that for a minute. When is the last time you unplugged? Have you ever unplugged? Do you NEED to unplug?
Unplugging is a noble goal. But here’s the challenge: it seems almost impossible to do. It’s clear that we are rapidly being overcome by the realities of living in the information age and for many, being hyper-connected is a fundamental survival technique. To prove her point, Tiffany asked the TEDxNASA for a show of hands of how many people regularly unplug one day every week. Out of the hundreds of people in attendance, two people raised their hands! Most people just laughed it off.
The amazing thing that happens when you unplug is that time slows down and you are “more present.” This is something that is becoming much more important in my own life as my wife and I start to raise our family. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to do everything I did before, and invest in my family. At the end of the day, my family is much more important and the idea of slowing down time, and being more present, is incredibly attractive.
Last week, I also had an opportunity to watch Seth Godin present about a very similar topic. Shortly thereafter he published a blog post called“the filter hierarchy” which really scopes the the problem we face today. I’ve cross-posted his article below and would love to know what you think.
There’s more information, provocations, riffs, causes, meetings, opportunities, viral videos, technologies and policies coming at you than ever.
So, how do you rank the incoming? How do you decide what to expose yourself to next?
- Email from your boss
- Personal note from a good friend
- Three or four recommendations from trusted colleagues, each with the same link
- A trending topic on Twitter
- The latest on Reddit
- Phone call from your mom
- File on the intranet you’re supposed to read before the end of the week
- Spam email from a stranger
- Tenth note from Eddie Bauer, this one to an email address you haven’t used in a year
- Post on Google + from a friend of a friend
- Facebook update from someone you haven’t seen in ten years
- Angry tweet from someone you’ve never met
- Commercial on the radio that’s playing softly in the background
- Email from someone who had your back one day when it really and truly mattered
- !!!urgent marked email from the HR department about the TPS reports
- Text message on your phone from your husband
- Phone message from the kid’s principal
- Tweet from the handler of a celebrity who is pretending to be the celebrity
- Story that’s repeated endlessly on cable news because a producer thought it would get good ratings
- Handwritten love note from a current crush
- New review in the Times of a restaurant you happen to be going to tonight
- Obviously bulk snail mail from a charity you donated to three years ago
- Latest volley in a flame war
- Blank sheet of paper quietly waiting for your next big innovation
- Comment on a blog post you wrote three days ago
- New post by your favorite blogger, delivered via RSS
- Book in the bookstore, next to the cash register
- Newest negative review of your business on Yelp
- Movie playing across town
- TV commercial on a show you’ve got on your DVR
- Book on the back shelf of a bookstore, newly put there yesterday by the manager, who doesn’t know what you like
- Tweet from someone who really, really wants you (and everyone else) to follow her
- Rebecca Black’s new video
- Sales pitch on your voicemail
Which of these are required reading for a productive member of society or a good employee or an informed citizen? Which do you do out of habit? Are you assuming that your habits are the norm, and that others have an obligation to pay attention to what you pay attention to? Should there be symmetry—is it logical to only engage with people who prioritize their filters the same way you do?