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Tuesday, June 05, 2018

In praise of doing nothing | The Conversation

Photo: Simon Gottschalk
"Technology has made many aspects of daily life much easier. So why do we still feel so overwhelmed?" insist Professor of Sociology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Modern life seems to encourage acceleration for the sake of acceleration – to what end?   
Photo: JoeyCheung/Shutterstock.com

In the 1950s, scholars worried that, thanks to technological innovations, Americans wouldn’t know what to do with all of their leisure time.

Yet today, as sociologist Juliet Schor notes, Americans are overworked, putting in more hours than at any time since the Depression and more than in any other in Western society.

It’s probably not unrelated to the fact that instant and constant access has become de rigueur, and our devices constantly expose us to a barrage of colliding and clamoring messages: “Urgent,” “Breaking News,” “For immediate release,” “Answer needed ASAP.”

It disturbs our leisure time, our family time – even our consciousness.

Over the past decade, I’ve tried to understand the social and psychological effects of our growing interactions with new information and communication technologies, a topic I examine in my book “The Terminal Self: Everyday Life in Hypermodern Times.”

In this 24/7, “always on” age, the prospect of doing nothing might sound unrealistic and unreasonable.

But it’s never been more important.
Acceleration for the sake of acceleration In an age of incredible advancements that can enhance our human potential and planetary health, why does daily life seem so overwhelming and anxiety-inducing?

Why aren’t things easier?

It’s a complex question, but one way to explain this irrational state of affairs is something called the force of acceleration.

According to German critical theorist Hartmut Rosa, accelerated technological developments have driven the acceleration in the pace of change in social institutions...

As we race along, it seems as though we’re not taking the time to seriously examine the rationale behind our frenetic lives – and mistakenly assume that those who are very busy must be involved in important projects.

Touted by the mass media and corporate culture, this credo of busyness contradicts both how most people in our society define “the good life” and the tenets of many Eastern philosophies that extol the virtue and power of stillness

French philosopher Albert Camus perhaps put it best when he wrote, “Idleness is fatal only to the mediocre.”
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Source: The Conversation


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