Friday, February 5, 2010

Practice and Technology

I think that taking an occasional break from modern technology is helpful to living a mindful and meaningful life. And yes, I state this while typing on my laptop, my ipod touch next to me so I can check facebook and twitter at a moments notice. As a person who grew up in the 80's, I am very grateful for the technology we have today- Terabytes of information at our fingertips, faraway friends just an email or status update away. In today's America, gone are the days of researching a book report by leafing through a dusty (and outdated) stack of encyclopedias. Gone are the days of waiting months for something ordered to arrive; will have it to you within a week. And, most happily, gone are the days of wondering what happened to that great friend you had in elementary school- just look them up on facebook or the online white pages.

In fact, my boyfriend and I discussed this, and we both marveled at the unique position of our generation. We grew up during the onset of a great crescendo of innovation; we had video games and TV, used calculators, and knew at least a family or two who owned a personal computer. But we still had to write letters, look through the phone book, and yes, pour over through those dusty encyclopedias. The birth of the internet as we know it came during our teen and preteen years, with things like instant messenger becoming mainstream in our late teens and college- it was an exciting time. And what's more is that we grew up with this stuff, so that we knew how our parents kicked it 'old school', yet also weren't afraid of using new technology. Now we look back at how far everything has come, even from the beginning of this millennium- it really is amazing. The supernova of technology is in full swing, and we were there to witness and grow with it.

But yes, there is always a 'but' :) I don't have to go into the disadvantages of technology; hackers, ID theft, child pornography, and obscene chat rooms. My question is "How does technology affect Buddhist practice?". I certainly do not have a full answer to this question, and probably won't for some time. But I do hope to elaborate on aspects of technology that are beneficial/not beneficial to practice, from the perspective of a lay person like myself. I will first start out with a personal mini-retreat this weekend, where I will exclude myself from using my television, laptop, itouch, and of course, websites such as twitter, facebook and blogger. Sure, it's not like this kind of thing hasn't been done before, but the point is, I want to see for myself.

My major question for this mini-retreat: "How does our access to technology affect Mindfulness?"

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