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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Day 656: Who Are you in the Age of Information

This continues from my previous post here based on a TED Talk by Chris Dancy - please watch the embedded video for context.

Chris has some perspectives on technology and self awareness that you don't come across every day. Aside from the sentimental self definitions based on moments in the past captured onto whatever kind of media, he shares some relevant insights into how our obsession with technology is distracting us from what's going on in the real world around us. Our focus has turned to developing ourselves in digital worlds, expressing ourselves and defining ourselves there.

Technology can and should be used to enhance our lives - but it should not distract us from the real things that happen in this world. Technology can and should be used to educate - not mindlessly repeating information - I'm talking about real education: teaching someone how to ask questions to be able to get to the truth, teaching someone to consider all possibilities and to not jump to conclusions, teaching someone to put aside their personal opinions in order to get to the truth of a thing, teaching someone at the pace that they are comfortable and capable of learning at. Technology has great potential to unlock our potential - this is not something that we should squander.

It is a problem when the digital world is more real to us than the real world. It is a problem when we define who we are according to what gadgets we have (or don't have). It is a problem when we abuse access to technology for personal gain. It is a problem when we lose ourselves in each new moment of excitement. It is a problem when our lives are empty of compassion and filled only with superficial and meaningless clutter from this digital era.

We have access to so much now, yet we choose to keep ourselves busy with trivialities - most of which derive from an absolute lack of self awareness. We get lost in emotional sink holes, lose ourselves in explosive reactions, destroy the people around us in outbursts of all the nasty thoughts we kept bottled up inside, lose ourselves in trying to find ourselves.

A suggestion he makes which can be a very useful tool for many is to use what is available to you (ie technology) to look at your life objectively - meaning that you 'track' your activities and the results of those activities. The example that Chris uses is how he recorded every thing he did every day and began to see patterns in his behaviour where certain things in his life triggered some unwanted desire. He was then deliberately structured his life to reduce those triggers and increase the things that triggered 'desired behaviours'. This is certainly a useful tool, or method, to use to develop an objective and basic self awareness of what triggers for what behaviours exist in your life. I would however suggest that, instead of avoiding 'negative' triggers, work to no longer be influenced by them. This can be done by investigating and understanding why something is a trigger for you - writing about specific events that contain the trigger is useful and enables you to see quite clearly what thoughts and emotions were going on inside you. With time you uncover more layers until you can see clearly exactly how the pattern works. With understanding comes power - the power to stop participating in the pattern and consciously choose a different path to take.

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