goldmourn (amberdawnpullin) wrote,

stress, social environment & symbols

The key for me in connecting stress to our social environment was realizing that today's way of being, both on-line and off, hasn't just accelerated the speed at which people's messages and facsimile selves move through space in time; it's compressed the actual experience of daily existence and saying what we have to say. The speed-up is built into the very medium in which the messages are written, commitments undertaken, performance measured, and so are its anesthetizing effects. They are integral to the trade-off involved in creating a pseudo, facsimile presence here, there and everywhere; for example, in contracted-out project teams or in on-line games and chat rooms. Like it or not, the medium itself exerts a bias toward superficiality and human disconnection even while connection and being in touch, technically speaking, have never been easier. This is because the medium itself packs a bias, or message, if you understand “medium” the way communication scholar and literary critic Marshall McLuhan did, as environment, the material through which we articulate our existence and express ourselves. Knowing this, I realized that the numbing, and all that follows, is implicit in how we represent ourselves in the flickering medium of data on the Net which can move at the speed of light precisely because they are only symbols of ourselves and reality.


When the story being told is just symbols cut off in time and space, there's nothing much to grasp or to become involved with as a whole person relating to a shared reality with others. And if there's no time to re-engage with the larger picture and gain a sense of being fully present, if the next call is waiting, the next meeting is scheduled, the reality in front of you can largely remain just flash and surface --- click, on to the next thing.


I sensed a link between stress as a disease of our times and stress as a more generalized symptom: of social institutions that are losing their integrity and of a society that is losing touch with what's real and what really matters.


In an age when time is money, the time for listening and reflection is atrophying. The pace that face-to-face dialogue requires, including pauses for gathering one's thoughts, is becoming too boringly slow.

source: all of the above is from No Time Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life by Heather Menzies
Tags: excerpts

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