Oh, New Years Day… As you emerge from the warm comfort of your (or someone else’s) bed into the cold reality of your hangover (or not) and take stock of the tattered remains of amateur night I ask you to consider this: unplug.
Yes, unplug. Unplug from your computer, your iPhone/Droid, your twitter/news feed, your iPad/Nook/tablet of choice, your thousands upon thousands of emails… unplug from it all. Take a few minutes, an hour, a day, a week… go crazy and take a whole month… and release yourself from the bondage of constant updates and find exactly what it is that you like, dislike, and feel. Broaden your mind: limit your internet access.
On December 29th of last year The New York Times Opinion column featured an article by Pico Iyer, The Joy of Quiet. Frightening observations about the amount of time we spend in front of the screen (full disclosure I’m juggling three screens right now, Redskins on my TV, blog and NYTimes on my laptop and texts on my iPhone. We all need a cure) and the amount of information (most of it irrelevant) that froths around us leads to the following declaration:
The central paradox of the machines that have made our lives so much brighter, quicker, longer and healthier is that they cannot teach us how to make the best use of them; the information revolution came without an instruction manual.
While the article inherently does not share anything we as arts leaders don’t already know, it help points out the amount of damage we inflict upon ourselves by NOT disconnecting.
It’s vital, of course, to stay in touch with the world, and to know what’s going on; I took pains this past year to make separate trips to Jerusalem and Hyderabad and Oman and St. Petersburg, to rural Arkansas and Thailand and the stricken nuclear plant in Fukushima and Dubai. But it’s only by having some distance from the world that you can see it whole, and understand what you should be doing with it.
As arts leaders we want to be as accessible and technologically with the times as possible, yet I wonder if in our desperate attempts to keep up with the curve that we’ve forgotten we create best outside of it.