I ask forgiveness from you and any deity out there… because I’m about to link to and endorse noted grifter Bret Stephens’ column [NYT]. It’s called How Plato Foresaw Facebook’s Folly, and as he explains, technology promises an easiness to our lives — but at what cost?
According to Stephens, “The deeper reason that technology so often disappoints and betrays us is that it promises to make easy things that, by their intrinsic nature, have to be hard. Tweeting and trolling are easy. Mastering the arts of conversation and measured debate is hard. Texting is easy. Writing a proper letter is hard. Looking stuff up on Google is easy. Knowing what to search for in the first place is hard. Having a thousand friends on Facebook is easy. Maintaining six or seven close adult friendships over the space of many years is hard. Swiping right on Tinder is easy. Finding love — and staying in it — is hard.”
This made me reflect on what things in my life I may have made too easy, via technology — and by extent, how I can make them more “difficult” again. Because often, the meaning and value is in the effort put into it.
In case you’re wondering what else you can make “harder” in your life, I put together a few ideas:
- Instead of texting a friend or posting on their Facebook wall for their birthday: send them a gift in the mail or a hand-written card
- Instead of taking an Uber: take a phone-free walk to your destination if it’s relatively near
- Instead of ordering Seamless: make yourself a home-cooked meal
- Instead of staring at your phone routing yourself to a destination: get lost walking around your city
- Instead of looking at nature or farflung destinations on Instagram: take a hike or plan a vacation for yourself
- Instead of getting lost in Twitter: challenge yourself to sit and read a book for an hour
The list could go on and on. I realize, too, that these do sound moralizing. The ability via technology to call a cab to get us home safely or order food if we can’t make it for yourselves is, truly, a wonderful thing. I don’t want to dismiss progress.
But think about all the things you might have put time and effort into before technology took it over for you. Which of those could you reclaim once in a while? Because, to me, I do think there is value in those actions that take more of our time and of our attention.