Recently, my wife and I took a two week vacation driving from our home in Colorado to the upper pennisula of Michigan to a “traditional” music festival. The tempo and meter of life was different. Instead of the cadence of a work day, we had the cadence of a driving day. Instead of keyboards, cell phones, marketing videos and conference calls, dictating my attention span, my mind was engaged listening to the CD player and having conversations with my wife. Time was measured by conversations about random topics and the rythmic hum of miles accumulating on the odometer. The screen in front of us was Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota … big sky and rolling land. We didn’t tune in to the news, web or blogs. We tuned into driving, thinking idle thoughts, and listening to music. Decompression.
Upon our return, I noticed the rate of content bombardment went up … way up. I plugged back in to — email, news papers (yeah, I’m one of those), blogs and very limited TV (The News Hour). The transition was stark. Time was now measured by the pace of electronic connectivity rather than scenery passing by. And if I was in my 20’s and totally connected, the rate of input would have been much higher.
It dawned on me that compression not only has to do with how time is metered out, but how information is concentrated. News of events now is worldwide. I can see in 20 mins a range of events that covers most of the surface of the Earth and reflects the pain, anger, anxiety and hatred of 6 Billion folks. 40 years ago, I couldn’t read about more than what was happening in my local community and a small amount of national and even less international news due to the size of a newspaper printed once a day. That constrained the content I was exposed to enormously, and even more, the culture and norms I was exposed to.
So, what happens to your sense of balance, happiness, well being and confidence about how the world works when compression includes not just time, but the events of the entire world updated every 20 mins? We know that the majority of the “popular news” is about pain, anger, anxiety, hatred and conflict, rather than dull, non-emotional stories. What happens when you get that kind of input, world-wide, updated every 20 mins? Does it change your perceptions, attitude, and outlook on life?
I wanted to draw attention to the fact the negative things people do to each other, they have always been doing. But, you didn’t see very much of it since the scope of information you could access was pretty small. Today, that scope is global. Is the world and its people more, or less, aggessive towards each other? Hmm …