March 26, 2019

Yes, You Should Be Meditating

“Because I live in Northern California, where this sort of thing is required by local ordinance, I spent New Year’s Day at a meditation center, surrounded by hundreds of wealthy, well-meaning, Patagonia-clad white people seeking to restore order and balance to their tech-besotted lives.

In the past, I might have mocked such proceedings, but lately I’ve grown fond of performative sincerity in the service of digital balance. It’s the people who haven’t resigned themselves to meditation retreats who now make me most nervous, actually.

Which brings me to my point: It’s 2019. Why haven’t you started meditating, already? Why hasn’t everyone?

I’ve been a technology journalist for nearly 20 years and a tech devotee even longer. Over that time, I’ve been obsessed with how the digital experience scrambles how we make sense of the real world.

Technology may have liberated us from the old gatekeepers, but it also created a culture of choose-your-own-fact niches, elevated conspiracy thinking to the center of public consciousness and brought the incessant nightmare of high-school-clique drama to every human endeavor.

It also skewed our experience of daily reality. Objectively, the world today is better than ever, but the digital world inevitably makes everyone feel worse. It isn’t just the substance of daily news that unmoors you, but also the speed and volume and oversaturated fakery of it all.

A few years ago, I began to fear that the caustic mechanisms of the internet were eating away at my brain, turning me into an embittered, distracted, reflexively cynical churl. Since then, I’ve done everything I can to detox. I consulted app blockers and screen-time monitors to keep me offline. I even got my news from print newspapers in order to experience a slower, more deliberate presentation of media.”

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JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"THE CAPTURE of the last territory controlled by the Islamic State on Saturday was far from a final victory over the movement, as U.S. commanders and diplomats were careful to emphasize."

"How a Gay Teen, an Internet Nazi, and a Late-Night Rendezvous Turned to Tragedy. When self-loathing meets the new age of online extremism."

"Benjamin Netanyahu ignored the intelligence operations of Beijing and Moscow for too long. Now, the Israeli government is finally paying attention, but it could be too late."

"Former Nick Jr. kids are now reckoning with this all-grown-up intrepid explorer, whose obstacles are a lot bigger than Swiper the Fox. And that is a hard pill to swallow."

"At the end of last week, the three-month Treasury bills' yield rose above the yield for 10-year Treasuries for the first time since 2007, prompting warnings that the U.S. is headed for recession later this year or in early 2020."

"A team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology attempted to answer some questions about voting with the help of artificial intelligence (AI)."

"The experts I spoke with all said that the internet had changed the way conspiracies spread, but conspiracies, both dangerous and petty, have always been with us."

"Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil. Traditional folktales never were. What changed?"

"Trustful parents allow their children as much freedom as reasonably possible to make their own decisions. They trust their children’s instincts, judgments, and ability to learn from mistakes."

"Arugulagate. In 2007, Barack Obama was in Iowa, speaking as a presidential hopeful to a group of farmers who were worried about the stagnation of their crop prices while America’s grocery bills continued to rise."

"To say that information exists in and of itself is akin to speaking of spin without the top, of ripples without water, of a dance without the dancer, or of the Cheshire Cat’s grin without the cat."

"Ted Cruz replaces the Democrats’ muddled manifesto with a clear and unequivocal exploration of the hatred of Jews and its particular evils."