Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Get Real! Reclaiming Authenticity in an Artificial World
Wow, that’s a hefty title. And, this may be a somewhat ironic topic by virtue of the fact that you’re most likely “plugged in” to the Internet right now reading this. More ironic, still, is that I was “plugged in” when I wrote it. But beyond the technicalities and plays on words, there is a deeper meaning in the form of questions. How do we live authentically, find meaningful work, and have meaningful relationships in an increasingly artificial world? Have we become like the characters in the movies The Matrix, or Avatar? Whereby our daily lives have become boringly dull and we do not find any joy or meaning unless we are somehow “plugged in” to an artificial (and admittedly fantastic) electronic world? We text, we tweet, we IM, we email, we Facebook, we play video games and more often than not, avoid direct face-to-face human interaction. Are we losing our ability to discern between reality and fantasy, between fact and fiction, between real and artificial?
In short, yes, we are. But where is this taking us? How is this affecting our interpersonal relationships, our health, or our ability to deal with reality? I heard an interesting statistic on the local news yesterday about prescription drugs: 60 percent more prescriptions are dispensed compared to 10 years ago. That seemed like a pretty big increase to me. I couldn’t help thinking that that the jump in prescription drug use had to be somehow correlated to our lack of ability to deal with our collective reality. Maybe that’s a pretty big mental leap. But it seemed to make sense that if somehow we could be more engaged and involved in our communities, etc., (hence, reality), we may be happier and less reliant on prescription drugs to make us feel okay. In fact, there is a plethora of information available (again, out there on the Internet), on how changing your activities can revitalize and breathe new life into your life. One such article had a list: Easy and Natural Ways to Raise Your Low Serotonin Levels.
So, what now? I am not advocating that we should cancel our subscriptions to our favorite ISPs, Facebook , Twitter or IM accounts. That’s really not practical, especially for those who make a living through those channels! But perhaps we can be a bit more aware and conscious of our communications and activities while we’re “plugged in” and save a little time to “unplug” ourselves to experience and enjoy the real world around us.