Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Learning how to unplug

Book Review: Hamlet’s Blackberry – A Practical Philosophy For Building A Good Life In The Digital Age

In this thoughtful and well-researched book, William Powers argues that online technologies and mobile devices have improved our lives immeasurably, but they have also come at a price. He points out that with our always-on connectivity, we have become disconnected from family, friends and neighbours, and lost touch with ourselves.

He writes: “The question now is how truly individual – as in bold, original, unique – you can be if you never step back from the crowd. When we think and write from within our busyness, surrounded by countless other voices, too often the result is reactive, derivative, short-shelf-life stuff.”

Powers examines great thinkers of the past who managed to avoid the distractions of their age in order to produce their best work. He suggests that by following their leads, we can restore some balance in our lives so that the technologies can enhance, rather than enslave, us.

The last couple of chapters of Hamlet’s BlackBerry are somewhat repetitive in their arguments, but Powers’ central message – learning to unplug can be healthy for your body, mind and spirit – is a powerful one that needs to be heard. Indeed, we can all benefit from occasionally walking away from our screens.

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