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Don’t tell me off if I text you after 5 hours -even if I’ve seen it✓✓

comic by toothpastefordinner

Seneca wrote to Lucilius: “Do you know why can’t you find peace in your escape? Because you’re always escaping with yourself” This quote is fascinating but it seems tables have turned nowadays. We escape from ourselves all the time and it’s the easiest thing to do ever. The Internet has been around for a while but it used to have its own assigned place: you have to turn on a computer to access it. Today we carry internet along on our smartphones and we are constantly notified about people getting in touch with us and if nobody gets in touch, we’ll get in touch first (even only scrolling down social media newsfeeds)

I really like the idiom “get in touch”. “Get in”: insert, enter, penetrate, plus “touch”: skin on skin, to establish a physical contact with another human being. I know, theoretically getting in touch is meant to be an easy-going way to contact someone. In practice the immediacy and closeness of this form of communication make the act of getting in touch intimate and demanding. We can penetrate anyone’s life at any time in the span of a second. We are supposed to be touched at any time and reciprocate the touch the soonest as possible. I find this not only uselessly time-consuming but also noxious in the long term.

There is too much to read and write but we’re lacking the silence and detachment of being by ourselves. We’re overwhelmed by humans but we can only reach our hands towards them virtually. In real life we couldn’t listen to “14 messages in 5 conversations” at one time -no wonder we can’t really do it virtually neither. Or better put, we manage to do it and it necessarily leads to a dilution. We acquire an automation and we are simply unable to produce significant meaning every single time we “get in touch”. So somehow the touch loses its shiver to become a hasty, nervous tap -and that’s a shame.

“For every hour you spend in the company of other human beings you need X number of hours alone. Isolation is the indispensable component of human happiness.”(Glenn Gould)

{note: this blog post was originally published in 2015}

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