When an 85 year old writes those words everyone assumes I’m the one about to leave this world, right? Quite the opposite. My sadness is watching humanity die before my eyes while I go on living.
We are losing our human selves in ‘great clumps on the hairbrush of information technology’ daily. Hairbrush? What a startling metaphor. But it is apt because IT bristles and yanks at the lovely tresses of what we humans do best: look and smile at each other, listen to and empathize with each other, spend time with one another. It is true that we are flawed in our human relationships, interrupting and tuning each other out. But as long as we still can read signs of distress or delight in our fellow human faces we keep those hairs from falling out; we have hopes of training them. But instead aren’t we shedding them to emojis? Our smartphones are coming between us, taking us over.
It seems it is not only to each other, but we can no longer even relate directly to our natural world. It used to be second nature to go to the park, climb a tree or vacation in a camp ground in the woods. Someone just sent us a weird article titled “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help you Find Health and Happiness.” (Time by Qing Li, May 1, 2018.) Why do we need someone to tell us this? Are our lives becoming so alienated from a bunch of trees that we need them poured into a warm tub for us? Such preciousness shows another strand of our humanness, feet on the grassy ground, being brushed away. “Experts” are combing our natural world into such an odd ‘do’ that it makes it unrecognizable. I.T. forces us to use our 24 hour daily ration of time either on terra firma connecting to its wonders and each other or on the insatiable web. Yes, the web does bring us our entire planet’s miracles at a fingernail tap, but at such a cost of time and energy that we lose ourselves, falling in bed exhausted. Now that is human at least. But IT is surely on the greedy hunt to snag our last 8 hours, those we sleep.
When I step onto the web I sense myself leaving my lovable old world behind. I choose I.T. over time with friends and try not to “pick up that hairbrush” often. I feel someone stealing my walk in the woods, repackaging it into bathtub. It isn’t Dr. Qing Li’s fault, it is I.T. coming between me and the forest. I, like everybody else, have become a little alien to who I once was. I too have taken that giant step towards moving beyond my humanness. For my French student friends, the last paragraph here:
Quand je mets le pied sur la ‘toile’ je me sens partir du monde que j’adore. Je choisis, bien sûr, Le “TI” en préférence au temps passé avec amis, et j’essaie de ne pas saisir cette brosse à cheveux souvent. J’ai le sens d’être volée de ma balade en bois, convertie en baignoire. Ce n’est pas la faute du docteur Qing Li; c’est la technologie informatique me séparant de la forêt. Moi, comme tout le monde, je suis devenue un peu éloignée de celle que j’étais autrefois. J’ai pris, comme tous les autres, ce pas de géant qui me mène au delà de mon humanité