I am a huge fan of Hugh Mackay’s writing and thinking. Not the stalking, restraining order kind of fan… not yet anyway. Recently I was reflecting on one of his presentations titled ‘The double paradox of a super connected world’.
The first paradox is the illusion that technology brings us together, but keeps us apart. He gave the example of face book friends who met up for coffee and had nothing to say to each other as they already knew everything that was happening in each other’s lives!
The other paradox is the more we connect online, the more likely we are to frustrate our deep human desires to connect.
Our first desire
We want to connect with each other. This is our first desire. Not through data transfer but through communication that nurtures us. Technology that uses just words, is stripping out the connection and communication that happens through the conduit of personal relationships not through cyberspace.
My take on this is even though people grumble about the number of meetings they have to attend, attending meetings no matter how tedious or boring might tap into this desire of ours to connect with other people face to face.
The natural world
Our second deep desire is to connect with the natural world. That is why even in high rises you can spot a struggling pot plant on the 14th floor. Some of us express this through our pets, our gardens, bush walking etc. This explains the self-indulgent photo opp for my dog!
Connecting with ourselves
Our third desire is to connect with ourselves. Unless this happens or has happened the other two won’t work. So how we can connect with ourselves? Mackay cited meditation, psychotherapy and creative self expression, art, music, writing.
To this list I would like to add laughter and oral storytelling. In addition for me personally both exercise and reading help me connect to myself. So any regular creative activity that both stimulates and stills us.
Hugh Mackay is not a Luddite and is not presenting this as a dichotomous view of the world but cautioning us to do both–while we embrace technology not to forget what our three desires as human beings are.
Mackay’s work filled me with optimism, as some things never change. We are all afraid of getting left behind by a relentless technology tsunami. But now no matter how fast or rapidly technology changes, being able to connect face to face with other people, being able to connect with nature and with our own selves will always be the key.
Fulfilling these desires will enable us to thrive and connect with what matters most… while still lugging our iPad from conference to conference.
Please comment – I love hearing from you.