The American playwright, Richard Foreman, writing in 2005, commented on how he felt we were being changed by the devices of our day. "I see within us all (myself included) the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self--evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the 'instantly available.' A new self that needs to contain less and less of an inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance--as we all become 'pancake people'--spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button."
"Pancake people...spread wide and thin."
Today I want to pivot from reflection on the cultivation of wisdom in an age of information overload to the question of meaningful connection in an age of hyper-connectivity. We are communicating daily with more people more frequently in more ways in real time than any previous generation could have imagined. If the hyper-availability of information has significantly impacted our relationship to knowledge, we must also ask how our constant communication has changed what it means to be related to one another.
I can still (barely) remember what it was like when to be "in touch" with someone meant I had to call them on the phone, write a letter, or see them in person. The only form of communication that was in "real time" was the telephone..and even then, there was a time when I could not leave a message unless someone answered who would take one. My point is not to yearn for a yesterday when all my friends seemed so far away...but to reflect on how all the technologically mediated nearness of today reshapes my experience of relationships.
Write a letter today...by hand..and see what a difference it makes.