My iphone has had “touch disease” for the past week or so. The display streaks and flashes. The touch screen does not respond. In other words, my phone is useless. This has lead me down a few paths of response. At first, I patiently attempted to restore it. I troubleshooted and researched to no avail. Eventually, I gave up and entered into a short state of suspended denial as I just went on with my life sans phone for a few days. At this stage, I am facing the music, and I have scheduled an appointment to get the darn thing fixed for a hefty fee.
But the point in sharing all of this is to simply state that I have been unwittingly “phone-less” for about a week, and the journey has prompted all kinds of reflection. In a way, the passing phone-less time has seemed a bit like the “1 week no tech” #netprov mentioned in last week’s #NetNarr studio visit. (Except that I was not playing a game with others. I was not posturing the absence of the phone while ironically using it to comment on the experience. My phone just broke. I was stuck. And it was inconvenient.)
I noticed that the broken phone left me wondering about who was trying to connect with me, and for what reasons. Still, I was able to connect with who I wanted to, and perhaps I was left with much less distraction. A welcome change came when the bad habit of checking my communications before sleep was removed. And so I found myself more at peace. I was free of that daily infusion of dread induced by the current news headlines.
I also noticed that the iphone aspect I missed most was the camera. I have realized that I use the camera each day to take notice. There were many times when I wished I could take a quick pic to capture a memory or shed light on a small something that might otherwise be missed. I discovered that the camera on my phone serves to amplify my instinct to really see what is around me.
All in all, my minor iphone inconvenience continues to be an instructive time for me personally. As someone who embraces networked learning and who advocates for open and connected learning, I also need to grapple with the detrimental effect of the network on our lives. We are bombarded with distractions everyday. Even with self-reflective understanding of this complex issue, I struggle at times to hear my own intuition. It is a conscious act to carve the time and space to let my own inner wisdom rise up from the pace and rhythm of this networked life. I think it is important that we have “a collective/collaborative think”. I hope the #NetNarr community can confront this aspect of the network effect. We can consider together what choices we have, and what practices we may want to foster to live more intuitively and with more peace in our lives.
Digital artist Jonathan Harris recently announced the end of the beautiful digital storytelling network called Cowbird. (Cowbird is crowdsourced platform as “public library of human experience”. Their mission has been to gather and preserve exceptional stories of human life, so the insight and wisdom we acquire as individuals can be a resource for others to look to for guidance.) In his closing letter to the Cowbird community he wrote “Technology is poised to tighten its grip on us. …This world we are blessed to inhabit is more vast and complex than the Internet, and more beautifully profound than any virtual world I believe we will ever create.” As I consider Jonathan’s assertion, I continue to ponder the spiritual dimensions of what it means “to connect”. I hope you will join me in this effort as we attempt to comprehend digital alchemy.