Thu • Sep 12th, 2013 • by Tom Nees • Comments 2
I came across two bits of surprising information this week.
First, in his blog about Google Glass, “Less Ubiquity, Please,” Sasha Dichter notes that “the average teen sends 3,000 texts a month.” More about that later.
Second, in his recently published autobiography “My Brief History,” Stephen Hawking, renowned physicist and prolific writer now in his 70’s, has survived with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) since the age of 21. Early in his career he was dependent upon face recognition software to write three words a minute.
What a contrast!
Dichter is advocating for more reflection time unplugged from the Internet, email, texting and twittering.
He anticipates that our children and grandchildren with their compulsive constant communication will need to be taught “sustained attention” – “the skill,” he writes, “of having an empty moment and not doing anything with it.”
Back to Stephen Hawking – can you imagine what his life is like limited to three words a minute, unable to communicate by voice or typing?
But rather than dwelling on what he can’t do, Hawking reflects thankfully on what he has been able to do, and even on the advantages of his handicap. He has written more books in his lifetime than many people read, some of which are too abstract for most of us.
Both texting teens and Hawking are dependent upon breakthrough communication technology.
Yet with all the benefits of our wired world there is a pitfall — too much of a good thing.
Dichter intends to break his habit of “reflexive checking” of email, texts and twits – contributing to his “unconscious unproductive behavior.”
Among other things he is trying, with limited success, to not check his email before breakfast, while in transit or in the bedroom. He admits that’s a pretty low bar – but at least it’s a beginning.
Hawking is more productive at three words a minute than most of us are with all of our advanced communication tools.
Sometimes less is more.