Sunday, March 08, 2015

Off The Grid

Socrates was against the idea of writing. He thought that this modern invention would make people lazy. They would cease to study and memorise texts. They wouldn't stop to think. They wouldn't travel to meet people and discuss ideas if they could send them in writing. Many of the worlds very rich cultures have been carried down through aural tradition. You don't need to write.

In 'Moonwalking with Einstein', journalist Joshua Foer spends a year learning memory tricks, and with just a half hour of study each day goes on to win the American Memory Championships. Memory is a muscle and you can learn how to use it better. Scholars used to be unsure whether they would get to see, let alone read, a book a second time and so their memories were their modern day hard drives.

Fear mongers worry at each progressing stage of technology. When the printing press came around, there were those who worried what would happen if lay people read themselves. Surely they needed a learned scholar to interpret the words and explain them? You can't just set ideas free. The internet has freed ideas even further. Instead of struggling to find information now, we struggle to filter.

I get raised eyebrows when I discuss my love of the direction social media is heading. There are many people you are scared of just how much technology is interfering with 'the real world'. They bemoan it overtaking real interaction. Every time something new comes about there is concern. Will the telephone stop people talking to each other? Why don't you just go see someone. Will email stop people speaking to each other? Why don't you just call them? Will text messages stop people writing longer messages to each other? Why don't you send them an email? Will photo exchanges stop people  using words? Can't you even be bothered to send 140 characters?

All these technologies add options. You have to use technology rather than letting it use you. I leave my phone on silent all the time. If I miss a call, I can text or call back. I turn my phone off when I am at a restaurant so that the person I am talking to has my full attention. I don't see my blog as a substitute for face to face interaction, I see it as a trigger. When I actually get to see people, if they read my blog, it means our conversation quickly jumps passed small talk to something that is relevant to both of us. Blogging has made me seek out real interaction more often.

But sometimes you do need to go off the grid. I have been writing my posts every day. With travelling, that could lead to some silly behaviour. Yesterday I was at a wonderful wedding in the middle of nowhere on the edge of the world. Tauranga Bay in New Zealand is beautiful and being able to be at this celebration of the marriage of a close family friend was very special. Being off the grid was awesome. There was no chance to even sneak off to the bathroom to check the cricket score. I didn't know South Africa had lost another unimportant match on their road to world cup glory. I had my first blog post free day while not in the air since starting my daily writing. 

Sometimes there are no free wifi cafes to be your office 

I don't think you need to reject any technology. Like sugar and spice you just have to use it to make add flavour rather than overpower you. 
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