What do you mean ‘we’, Paleface?
An old joke: Tonto and the Lone Ranger are surrounded by hostile Indians. The Lone Ranger: It’s looks like we’re in a lot of trouble, old friend! Tonto: What do you mean “we”, Paleface?
I think of that joke whenever I read articles like this one about how “we” live, think, and experience things these days. The article claims immersive experiences- and above all else the inwardness they require- are now dead on the lips of the twenty-first century:
“The problem is: We just don’t do whole things anymore. We don’t read complete books — just excerpts. We don’t listen to whole CDs — just samplings. We don’t sit through whole baseball games — just a few innings. Don’t even write whole sentences. Or read whole stories like this one.
We care more about the parts and less about the entire. We are into snippets and smidgens and clips and tweets. We are not only a fragmented society, but a fragment society.
And the result: What we gain is the knowledge — or the illusion of knowledge — of many new, different and variegated aspects of life. What we lose is still being understood.”
What the article describes- going through life only having glancing, surface-level experiences of things- nibbling from the free sample platter instead of ever having a meal, never really taking part in your own life- sounds really horrible, actually. It sounds like making due with only mix-tape, short-attention span, slivers of identity and humanity. I suppose the way to avoid asking yourself if that’s any way to live would be to project that onto the rest of “us” and say that “we” still don’t understand if the death of inwardness and absorption in real life experiences will have any drawbacks. But, as for myself Paleface, I think I’d rather hedge my bets and make a family with silence and slow time.