Imagine you are on a lonely island with white beach and crystal clear water. Imagine there are only a few people on this island, a cocktail bar and a place to eat. Imagine there is only limited electricity for low voltage lights and charging cameras and mobile phones. Take into account that there is a computer with Internet access and good network coverage but you decide that it does not feel right – neither to check your emails nor to switch on your mobile phone after your plane arrived in a larger city hours away from your island.
Instead you enjoy the beauty of the beach, the warmth of the water and a fresh breeze which comes over the ocean at night while you sit at the low lighted bar and a enjoy barkeepers special made of fresh fruits. During day time you either tan on the beach, snorkel in the ocean, read a good book lie in a hammock or enjoy a massage on a futon bed under palm trees.
Why is that? A famous author once wrote that: ‘the most important thing in human relationships is conversation, but people don’t talk anymore, they don’t sit down to talk and listen. They go to the theatre, the cinema, watch television, listen to the radio, read books, but they almost never talk. If we want to change the world, we have to go back to a time when warriors would gather around a fire and tell stories’ (Paulo Coelho, ‘the Zahir’, p. 125).
I was very impressed when I first read it. Even though I would add Internet to the list of media we prefer surrounding ourselves with instead of talking. Chatting, texting and exchanging information via Internet does not count as conversation in this sense. Furthermore, I think that reading a good book is also one thing we should become aware of again. To be honest: I did not read more than three complete books before I graduated from high school. The cyberspace also contained the necessary information to avoid reading the books I had to read for school. A few years later, a started reading one book after the other. For someone working on a blog about technology it might sound weird but sometimes you should really light a bonfire and read a book or exchange stories with other people. Probably on an island.
Why is that? The new technologies control our pace when it should be us controlling it. Emails are sent and received within seconds, accessible from almost everywhere in the world. A mobile phone which keeps us company even at night. Living and working in this kind of globalized and interconnected world means that we depend on these technologies. However, there is a theory called ‘technologic determinism’ (have a look at Neil Postman’s books) which basically (and please do not quote me for an academic discussion) says that technologies change the way we live and determine our actions. Whether I like it or not there is some truth behind it. One of the examples Ellul brings in his book ‘The Technologic Society’ was about a tribal society (details escaped my memory) in which it was common to light a fire in your tent after intercourse. Because there was only one bonfire in the middle of the village, you had to go there which made it very public. With the invention of (I think it was oil lamps) you could have a light burning in your tent and just enlight another after… . That obviously and eventually changed the number of inhabitants. Technology changed society.
Back to the Island!
In order to regain control over the pace your life is going it might be helpful not necessarily to go to this island but imagine it while you sit at home, disconnected from the world, talking to your friends and beloved, reading a good book or just following a train of thoughts with a cup of good coffee in front of a fireplace in a winter’s night. Though the island is a pretty good option and it is much easier to get disconnected there. From time to time everyone should create his own island for a day or two.
disconnect, regain control, recharge energy and re-connect