Posts Tagged ‘online communication’

The End of AbsenceIn an always-on, constantly connected digital environment, the appreciation of solitude is becoming a dying art. Yet some of life’s richest rewards result from periods of solitude — or what author Michael Harris refers to as absence. In The End of Absence, Harris explores the benefits and risks of today’s digital existence. In doing so, he both warns readers of the consequences of the impending end of absence and offers thoughtful insights on how to recapture the solitude that threatens to be lost forever in a digital world.

According to Harris:

  • The digitization of society has created the end of absence. As digital technology becomes ubiquitous, individuals lose the opportunity to enjoy silence and solitude.
  • New technology is always a trade-off. Whenever there is new technology, consideration must always be given to what will be gained and what will be lost.
  • In the digital age, absence must be engineered. Because people (young people in particular) are constantly bombarded by digital input, individuals must plan periods of solitude. Solitude cannot be left to chance.
  • Technology changes the brain. The brain is “plastic” in the sense that its functioning can be altered. Using digital technology has been shown to change neural patterns in the brain.
  • The Internet dilutes expertise. Information- and opinion-sharing technology allows anyone, and thus, no one, to be an expert.
  • Access to everything encourages the exploration of nothing. Because the digital world serves up a constant deluge of increasingly personalized information, individuals have become passive and do not explore new material.
  • Absence is a choice. Controlling the use of digital technology is up to each individual.

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