I just loved Emma Gannon’s new book – (Dis)connected: How to Stay Human in an Online World. It speaks to many of the values that we hold here at Swallowtail Hill.
Emma takes a very considered look at where we began in this digital age with all the benefits and the excitement it brought – and where it has led us now. She recognises all the positives that the internet has afforded us but questions if we are at a point where we need to take a more mindful approach to how we live our lives online in order to preserve our sense of self, our wellbeing and our humanity; “Social media can make us feel connected but only when we are being truly conscious with how we use it.”
Emma looks at how limited and brittle conversations have become online and how, with that, our propensity to misunderstand and misconstrue has grown. The very connection we have sought now risked by intolerance and impatience because we’ve rapidly forgotten that conversations via technology don’t afford us nuance. We are forgetting how to really be present and actively listen.
The book takes a hard look at how much performing we do online – rather than embracing who we really are and sharing that in a meaningful way. How sucked into the online noise and trends we become in our bid to fit in, rather than questioning our genuine opinions and taking time to consider other viewpoints.
Emma talks too about how contactable we all are now. The pressure to respond to texts, messages and emails is relentless and energy sapping. We forget the value of downtime for our wellbeing, and overlook the fact that endless texts and WhatsApps are no substitute for more meaningful interactions with people we care about.
The irony is never lost on me that I take advantage of social media to spread the word about Swallowtail Hill yet it’s a place where there is no wifi, limited phone reception, where we actively encourage you to unplug from life, slowdown and reconnect with yourself, your loved ones and the big outdoors. It’s a difficult line between the two. But this, in part is the point of Emma’s message. We can find likeminded people, and learn from those who aren’t likeminded, have interesting conversations, discover new things, show support for causes we care about, amplify voices that need to be heard all through a considered use of social media – but not at the expense of exploring those same things with our full and present attention ‘in real life’ when we’re offline.
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