These Connected Times

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By Mags Z. Maglana

The Point Being

Friday, January 3, 2014


WE LIVE in very connected times. By that, I refer to the reality that thanks to massive advances in science and technology, particularly in the aspect of information communication, we get to know and make known events near and far, big and small, in varying levels of significance as they are happening.

This obviously has its advantages. At no other point in human history are humans (the portion of humanity who have access to information communication technology, that is) as well informed as we are now. Online mass media bring breaking news and entertainment to our screens so fast that on an eventful day things are as if in a blur. Internet search engines trawl and offer answers to queries with speed unthinkable in the days of the library card catalogue. Many of us use social media as both journal to chronicle our lives, and podium on which we inflict our views and feelings on the rest of the world.

But it clearly also has its requirements. We spend so much resources on getting and staying connected judging by the amount of money that goes into buying gadgets and paying for services, not to mention time spent on poring over and updating web pages. We make so much effort to connect that when we are some place new, invariably our first few communication exchanges with people would include the now standard line "How do I access the Internet around here?" These days, among the mini-rituals as we leave home at the start of each day is the rapid mental inventory "Keys, check. Wallet, check. ID, check. Cellphone, check. Tablet and or computer notebook, check. Power cords/chargers... Oh no, I do not have them with me."

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But like other human enterprises pursued to excess, our being connected could end up getting us tethered. We could get glued to our screen of choice: television screen, computer monitor, tablet or cellphone display. What started out as an intention to do a quick browse could lead to hours of compulsive clicking and typing. Whereas we now have very many knowledge platforms on which to base great life journeys, the tragedy might be that they are only imaginative journeys because we could not be bothered to look up, stand and take the first actual step.

We are the batch of humans that made hobbies out of selfies, and posting images, texts or videos about current obsessions whether they be food, pets or celebrities. Knowing that evolutionary processes are still very much at work, sometimes I wonder if future humans which I dare call homocontineus, would have arched necks and a different field of vision from being bent over screens, and more developed thumbs for tapping on keypads.

You could say that I am exaggerating. But am I? At least Narcissus had the company of nature as he sat by the pond and pined over his reflection. There are those who are pining over their own images using liquid crystal display screens.

What's my point? That we can post and share our great life moments, most certainly. But first let us actually make and enjoy those moments. Hence, every now and then we have to disconnect from the information grid so we can hook up to other and more fundamental connections, inside ourselves and with Mother Nature.

Expanded consciousness guru Dr. Timothy Leary said in 1967 "in order to turn on and tune in, you must of course 'drop out'". My own take would be to tune out in order to tune in and be tuned up.

Sometimes we have to disconnect so that we can reclaim control over stimuli, and truly be in the moment. It is said that the origins of the word connect is the Latin term contineo, which means to "hold together, keep together and join". My appreciation of that is we need to hold and keep ourselves together so that we can truly join others.

Tuning out and tuning in can help us hold and keep ourselves together so that we can tune up and truly join others.

The end of the outgoing year and first few days of the new one offer a great opportunity to do tuning work. It would be akin to taking account of and closing the past, and gathering vital resources to align and rev up for the new one. But of course we do not have to wait for the end/start of the year. Nor do we have to be somewhere exotic or primal. We can be wherever we are at any given moment to disconnect and connect as is our will.

The point being that we can be connected without being attached. Now where is that power charger?

Email feedback to magszmaglana@gmail.com

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 04, 2014.

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