A SENSE OF THE MYSTERIOUS by Alan Lightman
Dr. Jo Watts Williams, beloved matriarch of Elon University, told me “…children need time to go looking for lizards.”
Perhaps author Lightman was making similar points in the concluding parts of his book. Addressing the modern rapid pace of change brought on by technology, he admonishes thusly”:
Certainly, few people could deny that the new technologies of the “Wired World” have improved life in many ways. Some of the less agreeable symptoms and features of the “Wired World” seem to be:
1. An obsession with speed and an accompanying impatience for all that does not move faster and faster. *
2. A sense of overload with information and other stimulation. Our computers are not only foster but they store more and more data.*
3. A mounting of obsession with consumption and material wealth.*
4. Accommodation to the virtual world. The artificial world of the television screen, the computer monitor, and the cell phone has become so familiar that we often substitute it for real experience.*
5. Loss of silence. We have grown accustomed to a background of machine noise wherever we are. *
6. Loss of privacy. With many of the new communication technologies, we are, in effect, plugged in and connected to the outer world 24 hours a day.*
In recent decades, however, this trend has accelerated to a disturbing degree. If we have indeed lost in some measure the quality of slowness, have lost a digestible rate of information, immediate experience with the real world, science, and privacy, what exactly have we lost?
I believe that I have lost something of my inner self. By inner self I mean that part of me that imagines, that dreams, that explores, that is constantly questioning who I am and what is important to me. My inner self is my true freedom.
“…the truly important spaces of one’s being cannot be measured in terms of square miles or cubic centimeters. Private space is not a physical space. It is a space of the mind.”
*Substantial additional support comment omitted.