The art of finding balance in a wired world.
There's no doubt that technology has overrun our lives. Over the past few decades, the world has embraced "progress" and we're living with the resultant clicking, beeping, anxiety-inducing frenzy. But a creative backlash is gathering steam, helping us cope with the avalanche of data that threatens to overwhelm us daily through our computers, tablets and smartphones.
The Joy of Missing Outconsiders the technologically focused life, with its impacts on our children, relationships, communities, health, work and more, and suggests opportunities for those of us longing to cultivate a richer on- and off-line existence. By examining the connected world through the lens of her own internet fast, author Christina Crook creates a convincing case for increasing intentionality in our day-to-day lives. Using historical data, typewritten letters, chapter challenges and personal accounts, she invites us to explore a new way of living, beyond our steady state of distracted "connectedness."
Most of us can't throw away our smartphone or cut ourselves off from the Internet. But we can all rethink our relationship with the digital world, discovering new ways of introducing balance and discipline to the role of technology in our lives. This book is a must-read for anyone wishing to rediscover quietness of mind, and seeking a sense of peace amidst the cacophony of the modern world.
|Publisher:||New Society Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Christina Crook is a wordsmith and communications professional whose poetry, essays and interviews on art, culture and technology have appeared in UPPERCASE, CBC.ca, Vancouver Magazine, Today's Parent, MUSE, Geez, Faith Today and the Literary Review of Canada. In 2012 she disabled the data on her smartphone, turned off her email and said goodbye to the Internet for 31 days. This experience, chronicled as the project, Letters from a Luddite, garnered international media attention and fueled Christina's passion for exploring the intersection of technology, relationships and joy.
Table of Contents
Information Overload How we got here: Mass communication 101.
As technology has sped up mental diagnoses have exploded. In 1918 Vladimir Lenin first sees the pattern between electricity and mental health issues. He said “Electricity will take the place of God. Let the peasant pray to electricity. He is going to feel the power of the central authorities more than heaven.”
2. Better Off? Has the internet made us better off?
We are not a self-reflective people. We have become obsessed with all things new, no matter how petty. Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg admits it is easy to collapse into mediocrity, reminding us that most people are more interested in the squirrel in their front yard than the perils of global warming.
What can we learn from mining our past about relationship, human nature, efficiency and the imagination? Is more information making us dumber? People once had less to read, to play with (stick and box,) which seems to have led to a greater imagination.
3. Dusting Off the Dictionary Why definitions matter.
How do you define computer technologies? As a tool? A looking glass? An escape route? How we view these technologies directly impacts how we value and interact with them. Clarifying our understanding and definition of the Internet will help us to know when to stop.
INTRODUCTION to Part Two Presentness.
“We asked people about technology, the universal answer was: “Yes, it’s too much.” But we all like it, we’d be lost without it. Also, I think that to be a part of the global dialogue you have to plugged in to some degree.” - Filmmaker Andrew Blicq
4. Why fast the Internet? “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” - Socrates
Most major religions have a season or seasons of fasting, times set apart to better see and hear the Spirit whom they follow.
My desire to give up the internet for 31 days originated from a desire to discover the person and parent I could and would be off-line. I had tired of the restlessness, distractedness and discontentment I felt online. I was frustrated by the roundabout method of communication that was developing in my closest relationships.
4. Gaining the Time Implementing Constraints.
My constraints were drastic. 31 complete days off-line and here’s what I found: the smartphone check-ins I make multiple times a day are not actual time savers but time suckers. That if I, as a mama-of-two, want to engage with new ideas, read books, study, create then I have to save up all of those two minute, one minute, ten minute windows and bank them for things I really want to do. Like write poetry. Phone my Grandma. Skype my sister. Read a book.
5. Quitting the Comparison Game Reclaiming delight in a self-obsessed culture.
Before I began my off-line experiment a thought crossed my mind: If I get off the Internet I thinkI may stop worrying about what other people are doing and just do my thing.
What would our world be like without the “conspicuous authenticity” (Mireille Solcoff, National Post) the Internet breeds? What would our hearts be like if, instead of comparing, we blessed one another in our successes and said sayonara to tracking each other’s progress?
6. Coming Close Restoring our trust in one another.
When was the last time you struck up a conversation on the subway platform or in queue at the bank? Most of us are too busy fondling our handhelds to engage with the person next to us.
Chance encounters seem to be a thing of the past because online there is always someone initiating. Technology give us a sense of control, and where control reigns whimsy flees. The teenage girls that live next door tell me that even though they spend their lives text messaging, they still want to be asked out in person.
INTRODUCTION to Part Three The Way Forward.
It is very difficult to step out of the immediacy, the ‘necessity’ of media and say “maybe I don’t need this” because we believe we have control over their effects because we made these technologies but the truth is we make our technologies and they remake us in their image and for their purposes.” - Dr. Read Schudhart.
7. Reorienting a Life | Learning our lessons longhand.
The new media has restructured our experience of the old media. It’s under the conditions of multi-tasking, where you get to be two people, two places at the same time. That thrill that all media and all portable media allow us to do whatever we want whenever we want, that problem of when you have been given the the pleasure of multitasking, then even the divine pleasure of reading, now matter how great the content, becomes mono-tasking, a kind of punishment.
8. Making Space to Create
It had taken me an hour to realize the problem. I’d been spinning in circles, trying to dig into a writing project when I closed the flap on my MacBook in a fit of frustration. First I flipped through my file of paper notes, then I picked up a book and began to read aloud. Suddenly, unsurprisingly, the fog cleared. I could see the forest for the trees. I was able to THINK. We need space - both physically and mentally - to create.
9. Little Eyes and Ears Leading by example. Little children are plopped in front of televisions from birth. Sesame Street recently released an ‘augmented reality’ product where kids can hold an iPad in front of a specialized toy where the screen will play out a predetermined scene. We pay a premium so kids don’t have to imagine anymore. “The kids are playing four hours straight in first person shooter video games so they obviously have got a pretty clear ability to focus and stay alert on something for four hours. The question or the problem is if it’s only that that will keep them in the room: a multi-tasking, multi-variety of novel audio and visual stimuli that they get to destroy then no wonder they can’t stay awake in class.” (To paraphrase Tom Wolfe)
10. Hereon In | Check in, Check out.
The key is to use the Internet like any tool. Take it out for a specific purpose and then put it away.
We don’t use a screwdriver to butter toast or write a love letter. “Practice the discipline of planned neglect. Discipline yourself to pursue the better.” - C.S. Lewis. Do use social media, don’t live it. It can be a fantastic tool to give you direct access to a person you otherwise wouldn’t/couldn’t communicate with. FaceTime and photo-sharing with faraway family and friends are wonderful ways to bridge distances.
You don’t need to tweet it. Repeat after me: “I do not need to tweet this.”
CONCLUSION This will be joy.
We tell our kids to go play outside but we also need to be reminded of the joys of happy accidents. “Only love and what love forms endure.” (Book: The Family as a Spiritual Discipline) Meaning in limitation.
What People are Saying About This
"Engaging, thought-provoking and delightfully easy to read, The Joy of Missing Out provides practical insights and much-needed hope for an overwhelmed society."
—Dr. Susan Biali, M.D., Psychology Today blogger and author, Live a Life You Love
"Christina Crook has crafted a well-researched, utterly readable field guide to finding quiet, and ultimately, ourselves, within today's electronic cacophony."
—Mike Tennant, co-author, The Age of Persuasion
"Christina Crook writes prophetically about our complicated, often troubled, relationship with technology. But rather than forecasting gloom and doom for the modern age, Crook proposes meaningful questions for cultivating meaningful lives in the present tense. The Joy of Missing Out reclaims sacred space for all things blessedly human, and I highly recommend it to readers."
—Jen Pollock Michel, author, Teach Us to Want
"A skillful meditation on the dynamic of InfoTech and presence. A critique of digital assumptions. A welcome reminder of the real world and its tech shadows."
—Raffi Cavoukian, C.M., singer, author of Lightweb Darkweb: Three Reasons to Reform Social Media Before It Re-forms Us
"Weaving together research, personal reflections, and philosophy, Crook offers hope that we can create a new relationship with the digital world ... The Joy of Missing Out offers practical, tangible advice for ensuring your online habits are aligned with your values. "
—Kim Sedgewick, co-founder, Red Tent Sisters
"Crook provides both the proof and the inspiration to invest in real-life experiences and establish healthy tech-life balance. … This book is a life-changer for anyone experiencing the pressure and disconnection of a fast-paced, media-saturated culture."
—Rachel Macy Stafford, New York Times bestselling author, Hands Free Mama
[Christina] Crook writes a book in search of those human qualities that matter most. In its own way, it is our age's sequel to The Joy of Cooking and The Joy of Sex. Who knew you could gain so much by selectively giving up so little?"
—Dr. Read Mercer Schuchardt, Associate Professor of Communication, Wheaton College
"Well-researched and beautifully written, The Joy of Missing Out will encourage you to cultivate your attention span, put pen to paper, spend mindful time with your family and rediscover the pleasure of life, unplugged."
—Janine Vangool, publisher and editor, UPPERCASE magazine
"Crook writes in a way that gives us hope and reminds us of the beauty of "real life", without diminishing the value of technology. Her book is relatable, never preachy; it is finely drawn from experience and research. We can learn from this."
—Dr. Laurie Petrou, Associate Professor, RTA School of Media, Ryerson University
"If you've ever found yourself checking your cell phone instead of playing with your children, or surfing the web instead of talking to your best friend, this is the book for you."
—Christopher Meades, author, The Last Hiccup
"Christina [Crook] calls us to be present with ourselves. Any parent, anyone working in the marketing industry needs to fasten themselves down and read this book (without checking their Facebook newsfeed) and allow Christina to call you to a better place of being. This book is a must-read for anyone who owns a smartphone, has access to the internet, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter."
—Darian Kovacs, Founder and Principal, Jelly Marketing
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review. The book covers the challenges and solutions as well as the ramifications to our neglected selves through the 30 day experiment conducted by the author. During this time, she unplugged her life from all instant media. Including all things that most of us in the developed world use hourly, daily, (if not constantly) for work, entertainment and human interactions. She made some very valid points. Very few people pick up their phones to call anyone anymore. We rely heavily on social media to tell us how our friends and family are doing. Rarely does anyone paint their life in an accurate light by these means. In the age of enlightenment, we are forgetting to be human. As a computer/tablet/smartphone user, I have become accustomed to having information at my fingertips. Like many, I have given up reading the newspaper, going to the library for research, or buying birthday cards. I can complete all of these tasks at home in my jammies in a matter of minutes. I find that, as the writer explains, I become frustrated with waiting for anything. I have slowly evolved into a self-sustaining information sponge that is quickly losing social skills. Like many, I prefer to shop online to avoid people and hassles. There was a time when I loved the bustle of city life. Through technology, the easier ways has overpowered the healthier (both mental and physical) ways. I tried the experiment for one day. When realizing that not having my phone also meant I also could not tell what time it was- it did made for an interesting and stressful day. Calling contacts while searching through the phonebook taught me that I am was ill prepared for my quest. It only got worse from there. When I got home that night, I vowed I would never leave my phone home again. In all, the subjects presented in the book made me think. I find that standing in line for my coffee is less stressful because I no longer look at my barista and the others in front of me as machines. I see them clearer as humans. I have made a point to smile at others, saying please and thank you more. While it may be impossible to live in a wireless-free world. There is a balance to be found. Some of my favorite evenings are spent with family, playing cards, my phone tucked forgotten in my purse deposited in another room of the house. Laughter is infectious, and memories made with people are more vivid than the text messages I have sent or received. And I always LOVE sitting in a quiet room, curled up in my favorite chair, my dog at my side, and a great BOOK in my hand. Balance. The author gave a ton of great suggestions, included lots of facts in our evolving technological age to date. My ha is off to her lasting the 30 days AND still maintaining a online blog. The typewriter alone would have killed me! As a woman with dyslexia, auto correct is my bestest of friends! This book is worth the read. Happy Reading.