This post comes from Joanna Brogan-Higgins, a great friend who I have known since we were teenagers, and is a meditation on the topics I wrote about in last weeks’ post; on Pottery. Joanna sent it as an email to me, and in a previous time it would have been a letter, a private correspondence between the two of us. And in that time I would never have dreamed of asking her if I could share it. But here we are in a different time with a different paradigm, and I did ask, and she kindly agreed. So, with my gratitude, here are her thoughts:
I often reflect on how the Internet impacts on my life / our lives. I listened to Tim Berners Lee this week on the news talking about openness on the web and how governments should access data and this just confirmed what I thought about how much more deeply we need to think about the Internet and how much further it has to go. It is the equivalent of the atomic bomb in a sense, where we have the capabilities and yet not the full understanding of its enormous long-term effects at the outset.
The global connections are amazing but the mobile phone has changed lives in this respect also. I have been buying all sorts of things from different countries and sending items to and receiving items from different countries as far flung as Australia, Canada, Thailand, Norway etcetera for a very long time now, but it was the provision of connectivity to my past which I found most extraordinary. And this happened in the early days of my use of the web.
There are still events which I cannot find or research on the net but which I have every belief will appear sooner or later. I am also quite sure that very soon there will be a genealogical network which will allow us to see how we are all related to one another, or not as the case may be, and also map out our past and our ancestors at the touch of a button. Once this happens and is available to us, perhaps then, people will stop living so much in the present and take time to consider the enormity of their past, in which event the Internet will be relegated to being a tool of our day, instead of the all-consuming, necessitous, ubiquitous, invasive, out of control, addictive, boundless higher being it represents now, and the immutability of its future can be understood, tailored and condensed in the context of the individual's future.
I digress slightly because we were looking at creativity and global connectivity but I suppose what I am most afraid of is actually the link between art and man, or craft and man (as in pottery), will diminish rapidly as technology surges forward. These vital ancient practices are not as simplistic as making a holding vessel and we will lose sight of ourselves very rapidly if we do not allow ourselves time to engage in them, learn them and continue them - and instead become glued to our screens. So much has been written already about the decrease in social interaction and diminishing social skills in the young brought up in the age of the Internet but it is so easy, so divinely easy to slide into the habits of using technology.
Even this email which I dictate to you on my iPad negates the lovely habit I once had of finding my fountain pen and filling it, selecting a piece of paper which I had already bought because I had looked at it and felt it and decided that I liked it, then composing myself in a quiet space which I had probably created for that purpose, and writing words to you while trying to keep pace with my thoughts, my handwriting changing subtly with my mood. So, as I am still assessing my goals for 2015, which of course I have typed on my iMac as a list but will expand by hand, alongside cutting down on alcohol and smoking I will seriously be assessing how I can cut down on technology in place of other manual activities.