Three months ago I deleted social media from my phone so I could re-evaluate my relationship with technology. For the first 30 days, I checked no social media at all. In the next 30 days, I allowed myself a few visits to Facebook and Instagram, but only on a desktop web browser for short periods … Continue reading Three Months of Tech Fasting: A Brief Report
In her introduction to the April issue of Comment magazine, Anne Snyder begins with a troubling description of how citizens in the US are overwhelmed by current events and the brokenness of the world, and exhausted by incessant demands to take part in the culture wars. We no longer trust institutions such as "the church, … Continue reading Spheres and Lanes
You might think that Robert Eggers was exaggerating when he said we live in a "tiresome, lame, commercial culture now". I thought he might be. Didn't America produce a bunch of good movies, books, and music in the past decade? Then I read the following: American culture has exhausted itself. It is running on fumes. … Continue reading Exhausted Culture
I'm ruminating on this wholly unexpected observation from Robert Eggers about his latest movie 'The Northman': "This sounds super uber-precious, but I think it's hard to do this kind of creative work [directing] in a modern secular society because it becomes all about your ego and yourself. And I am envious — this is the horrible part — I'm envious of medieval craftsmen who are doing the work for God."
A dialogue between Madame Hohlakov and Elder Zossima in 'The Brothers Karamazov' provides a troubling yet vital portrait of what it means to love others. It is a portrait that flies in the face of the reward systems of social media.
The toxic rage over the abortion debate, where opponents are merely shouting their criticisms and assuming evil intentions without actually listening to each other, reveals a deeper social problem: A contempt for debate itself. And a contempt for debate is ultimately a recipe for the erosion of democracy. Debate is the price of our form of government. If you're not willing to pay it, then don't be surprised when you lose it.
My experience with a recent unconscious bias training left me with a lot of questions. Here I suggest that such trainings could be improved by educating attendees on the more pernicious aspects of our deep-seated desire to belong.
“The only part of an argument that really matters is what we think of the people arguing." So goes one line in this passage from Kim Stanley Robinson's sci-fi novel about settlers on Mars. I think it's more true than we want to admit.
This is the informal code of woke social justice that I have come to observe in the era of social media: You absolutely must be doing social justice, and a doing a lot of it, or there is something very wrong with you. Yet you must not post about the social justice you are doing, because then you are virtue signaling. Yet if you say nothing, you shall be judged for your abominable silence. So you have to say something---but you better watch how you say it, or you may wish you had never said anything at all.
I've had both the pleasure and misfortune this week of reading three essays about the way technology is shaping us and our environment. Things are mostly terrible, and yet there are some glimmers of hope. One of the authors (Alan Jacobs) nods at the philosophical tradition of Daoism as a potential framework to guide our behavior in a way that is more productive than other solutions which so far have spectacularly failed. I don't claim to understand what Daoism is or how it could help, at least not yet. These are complex ideas---but also mind-blowing and super cool.