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These books explain the many reasons* better than I can...
First Person (and very present)
Great memoirs from a fellow traveler:
These memoirs by Michael Harris resonated with the part of me that has been grieving a disappearing world. It was a world without devices in public or at dinner tables or in the park. It was a world that allowed us to wonder about questions for a while, instead of immediately checking Google. It was a world that brought opportunities for revelation and inventiveness disguised as boredom. Now, we avoid boredom by staring at continually updated streams of "content." Now, we no longer daydream, we scroll.
If you're nodding your head right now, you need to read these books.
It's not that Michael wants to go back to a time before the Internet. He's not a neo-Luddite or an anti-technology zealot. He longs for the beauty of a former world that is not necessarily better because of the tech that replaced it. He and a growing number of us mourn the loss of solitude, stillness and wonder. It's not that we don't want the Internet. We just don't want it to be ever present and always ON.
Don't Say He Didn't Warn Us
What tech is doing to us:
I'm not going to sugar-coat this author recommendation... Nicholas Carr is harsh and will freak you out. But I think it's important that we look at how technology is changing what it means to be human. I consider both of these books must-reads.
We Can Fix Things
Getting back to deep work and digital minimalism:
Cal Newport is a millennial with no social media who has managed to have a very happy life and a very successful career. His books showed me that what I thought was innocent phone use was instead a compulsive behavior that had damaged my ability to deeply focus.
My phone was undermining my creativity and writing ability. It was even affecting my memory. These books were my first steps back to reclaiming my mind and jump-starting my creative soul! Cal is the Marie Kondo of the digital world, and his books won't scare you like Carr's. Read these for hope, especially if you can't handle Carr's dystopian thesis.
Say it With Me: I am Powerless Before Tech
Why we're all addicted to our devices...
Reading Adam Alter's book finally removed any notion I might have had that constant internet and phone use is innocuous. It's addictive, and designed to keep all of us hooked. Read this to educate yourself.
(You can watch all three of these authors speak here.)
Have Humans Always Been This Self-Absorbed?
Will Storr's book is a fascinating, deeply troubling look at humanity's unrelenting self-absorption. This is an incredibly researched history of human beings, culture and the downside of self-esteem.
They've Got You, and They Aren't Letting Go
How Big Tech Keeps Our Attention...and Why:
They might not have been able to data-mine us, but advertisers and merchants have been tricking us into paying attention for decades. Tim Wu's deep dive into media history is a tour de force, and well worth your time for understanding our current information age (and why it is about much more than information.)
With All These "Friends" We're More Alone Than Ever
How our technology makes us lonely and disconnected:
Sherry Turkle is an MIT technology specialist who researched her book for over 15 years. The result is deeply unsettling look at digital saturation, and the effect it has on our relationships with other people. Check out Sherry's website here.
It Might Not Be Ionizing Radiation but it's Still Bad
What the science says about how our technology damages our bodies and why we don't know about it:
Do you just assume all of our technology and devices, smart appliances and utility meters, laptops and phones have been widely studied for safety? Think again. This very well may be the tobacco or DDT of our generation, and we should all start paying attention. I wrote my thoughts about why you should read this book here.
Toward a life analog...
If there's one thing I want to emphasize with this blog is that it's not about going back to a non-technological time, it's about balancing our current all-technological time with some of the beautiful, down-to-earth, tactile, experiential things that we have abandoned. Those things are still here. (And there are still people around who like them.)
Getting Back to Basics
The beauty and value of analog things:
David Sax writes about some of the wonderful analog-era things that experts told us we no longer wanted. Guess what? Those experts were wrong. David reveals a deep truth about how humans shop, interact, think and feel. There is a big future in things we thought were in the past.
Transcendentalism Still Makes Sense
See why Thoreau is still relevant today:
It's a declaration of personal independence from the chains of modernity that resonates as much today as when it was written. Consider Thoreau's book required reading for your spiritual development and the perfect book to reconnect you with nature and your own humanity.
How Has Digital Music Changed our World?
(and how has it affected our culture?)
Damon Krukowski made his name in the late 80s as part of the indie band Galaxie 500. He has watched our culture move from analog to digital, and he has important questions about what we've given up along the way.
If I Had a Hammer...
(I'd hammer in the morning, I'd hammer in the evening and possibly well into the wee hours...)
If you are itching to get your hands dirty and start making things you can actually touch and feel... either or both of the above guidebooks will happily teach you some new (old) skills.
Now is the Time for All Good Men to Come to the Aid of their Party
(and why typewriters will save us all:)
I'll be perfectly honest ... either you get typewriters, or you don't. If you do, then this book beautifully says everything you wish you could articulate. If you don't, this book might radicalize you.
You Have 36 Exposures
Make them count...
Whether you haven't shot film in years, or wish you'd learned how before the digital revolution, this handbook will teach you everything you need to master what is becoming a lost art. Get yourself a cheap 35mm camera and (re)discover the joy of film photography.
Say Goodbye to the Modern World
and maybe even find yourself along the way...
If you haven't heard of Mark Boyle, let his memoir be your introduction. Mark shares his journey (over a decade now) to shun modern technology and reconnect with nature and himself. It's not all sunsets and revelations, but his discovery of what it means to be human is one that we can all share. Mark's book made me question why we have chosen to live the way we do, and how we can combine the best of old and new.
Step Away from Constant Striving and Buying
I fell in love with Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World. There are a lot of books on living a more minimalist life, but this one really resonated with me for addressing our tech dystopia. It offers great tips for decluttering your life, but also included excellent advice for simple, happy things you can do instead of swiping and scrolling. The photos are beautiful, too, making the volume a kind of meditation in book form.
*breaking or avoiding addiction, rewiring synapses to deeply focus, healing thumb tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, improving creativity, enabling "Eureka" moments of insight, elevating mood, optimizing close relationships, facilitating more meaningful communication, avoiding surveillance, limiting propaganda, opting out of data-mining and excessive advertising, stepping away from social media echo-chambers, rejoining your local community, improving health, allowing deep work, promoting more restful sleep, mastering more skills, rediscovering wonder, feeling more human...just to name a few.
|See all of my book recommendations at my blog Books With Laurie|