- Source: Venkatesh Rao; Sources/Breaking Smart - Newsletter
- Keywords: Cards/permanent notes
- #philosophy #attention #technology
- Relevant Notes:
# Against Waldenponding 1
- A philosophy of relating to technology based on Thoreau’s Walden Pond experiment. It’s basically all about unplugging and retreating from technology.
- driven by Cards/Fear of Being Ordinary and ego-attachment
==philosophy of relating to technology== I call Waldenponding (after ==Thoreau’s Walden Pond experiment== on which Walden is based). The crude caricature is “smash your smart phone and go live in a log cabin to reclaim your attention and your life from being hacked by evil social media platforms.”
# Against Waldenponding 2
- Waldenponding is the ==demonization of digital devices.==
- But devices are actually more like magic tricks; they’re designed by humans to misdirect your attention.
- Manipulate you into creating Walden ponds
==Waldenponding = primitivist, fetishistic fear of screens as demonic objects.== A way of relating to digital devices that seems shaped by a fearmongering vision of them as soul-sucking pumps, and their designers as Dark Lords who are far too powerful for you, mere mortal, to actively resist. Your only reliable weapon, they say, is the off switch.
==demonization of digital devices== – perfectly ordinary objects governed by the laws of physics and designed by mere humans – is something like a magic trick, where the magician wants to misdirect your attention. While you’re busy worrying about the evil rectangles of light stealing your soul, you are missing the real danger: the horcruxes they are tempting you to create and trust with legibilized, dead bits of your soul.
- Waldenponding is a search for meaning similar to ==idolization.== The idol here can be anything that’s not a digital device.
- E.G. paper book, session of manual labor, hike in the woods
- They act as tangible focal points which the quests (for meaning) ==revolve around,== preventing one from going too far.
- This is what makes Waldenponding dangerous, and it’s worse because it’s ==seen as a way to do the opposite== (idolization)
Waldenponding is a search for meaning that is ==circumscribed by the what you might call the spiritual gravity field of an object or behavior held up as ineffably sacred.== The associated literal pattern of religiosity is idolatry. Today, the ==“idol”== in question is generally characterized by negative definition as ==“almost anything other than the profane digital device screen."== It can take a variety of forms: the in-person conversation, the board game, the hike in the woods, the session of manual labor, the construction project, the family dinner, the paper book. All are excellent things, to be valued for what they literally are. But as suggested repositories for bits of your soul, they are incredibly dangerous.
the loci at the hearts of the narratives are more than mere motifs or synecdoches for larger spiritual quests. They serve as ==physically embodied focal points around which the quests themselves revolve,== like strange attractors. Though the protagonists may, through the narrative, explore the universe in much more expansive ways, you can see where they keep bits of their souls locked down; the zone that keeps drawing them back; the idol that prevents them from wandering too far.
Each in its natural form is a perfectly fine thing. ==It is only when transformed into sacralized fragments of “soul” that they turn into dangerous Dark Magic objects. Waldenponding is dangerous because it encourages you to do exactly that.== The effect is particularly insidious because it is presented as a way to do the opposite.
- Waldenponding prevents us from experiencing all that life has to offer.