Paul Higgins: Finally the world starts to catch up!
Tumblr, now sharable from the New York Times.
- Dalton Conley, Cell Phone Weighs Down Backpack of Self-Discovery
I have written a bunch about the need for solitary time as a cost of being a creative — to gain mastery of complex skills, to think deeply — but Conley’s demonization of cell phones is too narrow.
It is the friends calling us that intrudes, and the struggle of the creative for a private space in which to practice is a struggle with those friends, and our desire to be with them. It’s not a struggle with movie houses, restaurants, or living rooms. It’s not cell phones, Tumblr, or Twitter that are distracting us, but other people, and ourselves, because we want to remain connected.
As Shakespeare has Julius Caesar tell us, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings’.
My story is by no means unique. It has long been a rite of passage in our culture of rugged individualism to spend a summer in Europe, or to hike the Appalachian Trail, or to bike down the West Coast. It doesn’t matter how far you go, just as long as you disconnect, cut the umbilical cord, get lost and end up with stories to tell your kids someday (edited for public consumption, and perhaps a tad exaggerated). Time away from our social networks as young adults helps us figure out who we are, and become fully individual.
As of late, however, our time in the social wilderness has been eroded by omnipresent connectivity — that is, the mobile telecommunications device. And I’m afraid that with no solitude, we will become less, not more, connected to our friends and families. Without loneliness, our society will innovate less.
Today, we carry our phones with us almost all the time — so we can’t truly be alone.
Yet we all need solitude. It is necessary not only for individualism but also for developing self-awareness and intimacy. Let me explain.
Time spent alone allows us to see ourselves as others see us. It’s important to have a backstage — a safe, private space where we don’t have to worry about folks watching us, where we can let our hair down, practice our social routines and strike back against the indignations of life in the public square. The backstage is where our “true” self resides, as distinct from the front-stage self we present at the office or on the street.
The mobile phone in the garden erodes that private space. And, in turn, it precludes intimacy: Until we have (and can protect) that private self, we can’t be intimate with another. Intimacy, to extend the theatrical metaphor, is like giving backstage passes to a select few. It rests on the private self remaining distinct from the public self, so that you have something to offer chosen friends and family members.
Paul Higgins: Michael,
I am one of those mysterious Tumblr editors. Now I know what I am doing wrong and will immediately order in some cupcakes and micro-micro brews but I will avoid the trucker burritos because I do not want to die young (or middle aged). I am one of the Tech ones so I don’t get to highlight your posts much although I very much enjoy what you put up. I am also privileged to be one of the blogs featured in the spotlight in tech and in some great company like Fred Wilson, Stowe Boyd, Smarterplanet and futuramb all of who I follow. I think Tumblr should promote the spotlight more because it is a great way to find great stuff.
We have added almost 7000 followers since we passed 3000 in late June which is just amazing growth. Some are spam but have had some great interactions and seen some great stuff.
Keep up the great posts and thoughts
I guess I average 20 new followers per day. It’s hard to keep up, and I apologize for not saying Hello! Some days I’ve gotten over 100 new followers, which is a boat load and means a lot to me.
I get especially busy when a mysterious blue hashtag appears on one of my posts. These super-tags are added to one of my posts by mysterious tumblr editors, who live on steady supplies of cupcakes, truck burritos, and micro-micro-brews. The super-tag places a post into one of tumblr’s aggregate streams, usually I’m in news or science (thank you, mysterious tumblr editor people!).
And then there is the otherworldly phenomenon known as Kateoplis. I get a tsunami of new followers when the indefatigable Kateoplis reblogs one of my posts (thanks Kate! And buy a motorcycle already, wouldya? We need to know what you choose. N.E.E.D.)
Some things about me:
Chelsea Handler? Help an old man out, this is a fake, right?