Uncle Ramon lives in the mountains in Mexico. He has traveled all over the world working hundreds of trades in literally dozens of countries. He is an artesian and now dedicates his time to metal works, ceramics etc. I admire Ramon´s amazing work ethic, renaissance skills and general curiosity about the world. He (like myself) could be identified as multipassionate. Incredibly skilled in many disciplines, he built his house from the ground up, starting with a small square structure that has slowly been added on to over the years. He has a true appreciation for resourcefulness, creativity, and handmade crafts. An avid reader, Ramon has cultivated a deep sense of tolerance for different cultures, religions and ideas. He is more reflective than judgmental, more curious than critical.
Recently at a dinner conversation, the topic of technology came up.
Some were criticizing how much new technology there is, or how technology, mechanizes people and makes us inhuman.
And I loved what he said: He likened technology to a hammer. You can use a hammer to build a house, but you can also use the same hammer to kill a man. Would you blame the hammer for the fault of killing someone? No of course not. You would blame the person using it. Or rather their choice in how they used it.
This I think is one of the best metaphors for thinking about our new technological world and also our beloved new line of communication: the internet, web, the cyber sea… whatever you want to call it.
It is a tool. What makes our moral, ethical and personal choices about using it so difficult is that, unlike a hammer (that has perhaps a dozen uses) the INTERNET has thousands, perhaps infinite uses. The challenge we face now, is how to use it. How we want to use this tool and for what.
There are futurists in our world (Jean Houston) who comment on the radical advancement of our society in over the last 10 years. If you think about how much growth, change, advancement and technological OPTIONS we have acquired over the last 10 or even 5 years, the list is massive. Jean Houson believes we are on a fast-track evolution: she explains that all the international intelligence and information of all world nations combined in 1950, is now accessible to a 10 year old via the laptop he carries in his backpack today when connected to the internet.
THATS a LOT OF CHOICE. A LOT OF OPTIONS. I lot of tools from just one source.
If you are like me, you love the internet. You might call it a passion that hinges on addiction.
It is a deeply personal choice, and I dislike when people make blanket judgements about use of the internet, computers, technology, social media etc. For me I live in Mexico, and feel so deeply blessed to have tools like Skype, Facebook, Email to connect to my friends and family that I otherwise wouldn´t see. Its my choice to use lots of social media, but I know I also run the risk of addaddaddddddiction to the ever so sucky-inny Face of Book. When I get sucked in, I need to remind myself to connect to my REAL world and also creating balance in my choices. I have to create ways to maintain that essential groundedness so I don’t turn into a robot or my own precious hard drive (my brain) doesn’t fry.
The internet as a whole entity is a phenomenon with millions of choices. Tools, applications, games, programs, websites. Youtube for example, its own entity inside the internet with another thousand choices of its own of HOW it can be used. You can use it to watch ridiculous videos of cats, or you can use it to learn Photoshop. The options and the choices are just un-ending.
I think that because there are so many choices, is just so easy for us to get lost in a cyber sea of options. All the sudden we look up from our laptop, or our tablet, or our cell phone and we realize that hours have gone by. Or worse yet, that a dear friend is sitting across from us at a cafe, and for the 6th time in the last 15 minutes you glanced down at your phone.
This is the heartbreak of the addictiveness, when we forget (as zen master That Nit Khan so graciously reminds us) that our presense is the best gift we can give anyone. It is so true. Our presence, our undivided attention, our most valuable comity and the best gift we can give another. When the Internet begins to get in the way of our focus, our ability to sit with someone, our ability to concentrate or connect with another. When it becomes a mask for our self, or a way to avoid difficult reality, we can liken the internet to any other addictive substance or habit.
¨Our Un-divided Attention.¨ It is so rare that we can give that. Our lives demand so much and the choices and things around us so easily pull us away from focusing or connecting with others. Its such a gift to give another your presence, your attention. It reminds others ¨you matter¨ ¨you are worth it¨ and how desperately so many of us need to feel that kind of attention.
On a more logistical level, the wonders of our cyber lifestyle has also lowered our ability to give un-divided attention to a specific task. Our focus at work is limited, sometimes we sit down to do something and after two hours we feel we have got nothing accomplished. Our ability to focus or have a productive hour of work sometimes leaves us feeling also ¨worthless.¨ Our disks get fried by too many windows, glowing screens, opt-ins and double clicks.
SOLUTIONS, A FEW HOPES, DREAMS AND PROPOSALS…
Thinking of the wonder of growth that has happened in the last 5 or 10 years, I can only wonder what the next 50 will hold. I hope more innovation, more advancement, more magical cyber weavings. But it is our decision how to use it. How to encourage others to use it and to maintain connection in our interconnected world where ironically so often, we disconnect.
So, before you go GOOGLE something, Ive laid out a little list here that I like to call…
THE HAPPY HABITS OF CYBER MONKEYS:
- FAST. Take a technology and internet fast for a few days every once an awhile. Longer than 2 days! Find a window of time where you can do it. Notice how you feel. Write about it, or reflect to a friend.
- Avoid the YUWK: “Youareina Unconscious Webhead Kunundrum.” Have you ever found yourself wandering around the internet with no true direction? Imagine that each time you use your computer, you need to “log in.” Imagine you need to answer to a troll at a tollbridge groggling: “WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE HERE.” Try writing down your purpose and give yourself a window of time to do it in. You know you are YUWK -ing if…You consume but never share. You share but never listen. You stalk or meander. You “overspill” for attention, or scrounge for “likes.” You window jump. You can’t get anything done. You eat at your computer or your eyes look like traffic lights. “YUWK! MOMENT!” DEFINE your purpose when you walk into web terrain. And if you are “YUWK-ing” – see step happy habit #1.
- Lonely Linda’s Beware. Lonely Lindas of the world feel sad and check their phone, look for messages and constantly make sure there isn’t something more important on their phone screen than whatever is in front of them. If you have a lonely Linda moment, just breath for a second. Connect to your own self, your surroundings and give yourself the attention YOU NEED! No text message, facebook status, email or chat will be able to really fill you up, better than you can fill yourself up! Take yourself out on a date and LEAVE YOUR PHONE BEHIND! (Stay tuned for my next post with more about LONELY LINDAS)
- Resourceful like Ramon. May we be more like Uncle Ramon. Tolerant, practical, well-read, resourceful, and curious. Because most of all Happy Cyber Monkeys enjoy the wonders of the www and find the joys and positivity and the miraculous interconnectivity it all brings. We use it as an inspiration station – to better our mind and better our world. (For resources on Happy Cyber Monkey wesites please see below!)
What do YOU think?
What is your relationship to the internet and what choices do you make in your life to create balance when using this great tool?These days, this Happy Cyber Monkey likes to frequent these websites: http://www.ted.com http://www.kriscarr.com http://www.positivelypositive.com http://www.daniellelaporte.com http://www.inc.com THANKS FOR READING! – love, Ashley
Cybermonkey Illustration by goopymart