Being Digitally Deliberate

Yesterday at work a coworker, feeling the winter blues, commented about how Facebook made her sad. It is a familiar topic. People read the posts of their friends and are sad that they aren’t having as much fun as others or feel guilty about not doing things their friends are doing that they feel they should do as well. For others, Facebook becomes a filter, seeing the world just through the eyes of friends who are very similar.

I also received an email from Ethan Zuckerman yesterday about a possible collaboration between CHC and some of his students. I picked up his book, Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection. It explores the potential of meaningful connections while looking at how technology doesn’t always live up to hopes and expectations. He includes a quote from Thoreau,

We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Thoreau recently, that 27 year old who went to Harvard and then lived in a tiny house that he had built. He was a hipster 170 years ago.

For Christmas, I received Books and Portraits by Virginia Woolf. It includes an article she wrote about Thoreau on his hundredth birthday for The Times Literary Supplement. It provides additional insights into Thoreau.

All of this comes together into an idea for the New Year. What if we chose to live our digital lives deliberately. What if we were to become a digital wandering autodidact, modifying our information diet to step out of the filter bubble and embrace the cosmopolitan attitude that Zuckerman proposes?

Perhaps this will shape some of my writing for the New Year.

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