Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shallow or Deep - Where are we headed?

Recently I commented on a story on "The Future of Education" site, titled "Is Google Keeping us Single". I just happened to have heard the story on NPR that was referenced in the story, describing the popularity of "hooking up".

This story made me think about examples of quick fixes and obsessions in our culture and it's opposite; the search for meaning that I also experience and observe. It is true that there are a growing number of examples of our tendency toward instant gratification. We are a fast moving culture and this "fast culture" is spreading over the face of the earth. But what is interesting is that alongside this is a growth in connections, in finding out who we are, settling down and settling in.

There is great potential for shallow "one night stands" in our culture. Maybe fast food is the culprit. No, seriously we have been moving horizontally for quite some time in our culture. This fast movement has it's costs and benefits. It does take practice and effort to stay on a thought, develop one's philosophy, raise a family or what have you. It is interesting that while people are moving fast and skimming the top of life, others are taking time to develop a sense of wonder and contemplation. The popularity of the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh are examples. While for some these personalities are just another quick brush with an idea, for others they represent a desire for connection and contemplation of the here and now. Interesting that the West discovered Eastern religion en masse during the 60s at the same time they discovered "free love".

Do we have the will and the stamina to rest in the peace of this moment, enjoy a novel, learn to play a musical instrument. I don't know what the research says, but my observations in my corner of the planet says that people are still doing these things. There is a desire to slow down - at times, and to escape our escapes.

I recently joined Facebook, much to the horror of my youngest daughter who does NOT want to be my "friend". Is Facebook a distraction, a way to skim the surface of my life and others? or is it a way to connect, to feel a deeper bond to the mass of humanity. I have found old friends and new. I have begun to get connected, albeit with quick waves and text, with people I have known for 20 and 30 years.

Granted Facebook could be another distraction. But it can be a place for people to begin to write their life story, to develop a deeper, not a shallow sense of themselves. Who know what all this will bring. But it seems to me that the phenomena of "social networking" is a natural outgrowth of our desire to be connected deeply not a desire to remain anonymous or have a quick "intercourse".

But twitter, that's a different story :-)