Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

face time

February 28th, 2013    -    11 Comments

blog-wilted-house-plantNext time you want to grow a plant, set it in front of a screensaver of the sun and see what happens.

Excuse me for pointing out the obvious. The sun is not a picture of the sun. An internet connection is not the same as a living connection. Life is not a picture of life. It is the transmission of living energy and not the transmission of digital data.

Or as an old Zen fogey said in far fewer words, “A rice cake is not a picture of a rice cake.” Which one will satisfy your hunger?

There were a couple of events that brought this to mind this week. One was the decision by the CEO of Yahoo to suspend the struggling company’s work-from-home policy. The stated reason turned out to be controversial: people who work together benefit from actual face time. And I do mean “face time,” not the phone app FaceTime for video chats, another example of a digital surrogacy that has brought living proximity to near-extinction. When I read the arguments against the new (old) policy on my computer, I said to my husband, “That CEO is right.”

He sat at his desk looking into his own computer and said, “Yes she is.” This spoken exchange is called “having a conversation.” From time to time we sit in the same room and speak to one another. Granted, not often, but stringing together these occasional proximities is what used to be called “a relationship.” He travels quite a bit in his job to have one-day meetings with his co-workers around the world because it makes quicker work of their complicated labor. Something happens in the space between living things—something visible as well as invisible. Something shared: a force, a bond; the circulation of energy, thoughts, feelings, sound, motion. Get it?

Few do. Not long ago I heard a young couple talking about their communication style. The fellow preferred texting; he said phone calls were inefficient and exasperating because “talking wastes time” when data can be conveyed instantly. I smiled and had a sense of where that non-conversation would be taking them in the next few years.

We all know better, really we do. That’s why we call that kind of disengagement “phoning it in.” I know doing things in person isn’t always convenient, but do we really have to argue the merits? I guess we do.

Last weekend at a beginner’s meditation retreat I was asked how many students I have. “That’s a good question,” I responded. “Lots of people ask me if I’ll teach them online, but I don’t do that.” It’s wonderfully clarifying for me that I practice in a line of teachers who have carried the living Dharma down from antiquity as an oral tradition. Teachers and students practice in living proximity: in the same room, two people sitting together having conversation, sharing sound, motion, breath. Get it?

Few do. Just about anything that looks like what we do in a meditation hall can now be done online via email, downloads, Skype, discussion boards, even meditation apps. Do it in your own home (where you won’t do it)! As an e-course! I don’t get it. This is not the Dharma I practice. Not the Dharma I teach. Whether you can see it or not, something happens in the space between us. Something intimate, wise, and generous. Something real.

You have to experience the light and warmth of the sun to stay alive.

This fascinating video called “Finding the Visible in the Invisible” will give you a look at the face time I’m talking about. But don’t mistake the video for the magic of real life. The video may pique your interest but it will not satisfy your hunger.

encryption for a new society

April 22nd, 2012    -    12 Comments

friend: no one you know
community: no place you live
connect: disconnect
interact: isolate
engage: distract
like: click
click: touch
touch: screen
screen: reality
stream: data
streaming: live data
live: not living
comment: type
chat: read
follow: ignore
social: alone

Last week my landline rang. You have to be of a certain age to even have a landline. I almost never pick it up. But I saw the name on ID. It was a friend—someone I’ve seen in my small town every week for 15 years. We have a sentimental history but don’t talk much anymore. Seeing her name I thought the worst.

That’s how it is these days. The phone rings and you think the worst.

She was calling to ask me to have lunch with her. For no reason. Just lunch. An hour sitting face-to-face, chatting. The whole event was such a shock that it made me realize how far we’ve drifted from what words used to mean: words like friend, face, and chat.

We have a new society, and it has corrupted the vocabulary of the old.  A society that isn’t social, with a language that is completely silent. I write this here so that one day the archeologists will be able to decode the encryption, and imagine what it used to mean to be alive.

This is why I will never stop inviting you to meet me face-to-face, and why one day you will.

The Art of Non-Parenting, Central School, Belmont, CA May 31.

Beginner’s Mind One-Day Meditation Retreat, Los Angeles, June 10.

things I learned on twitter

October 22nd, 2010    -    7 Comments

1. Everyone seems to be selling something.
2. No one seems to be buying anything.
3. It’s easy for anybody to be quoted. And I mean your average ordinary nobody.
4. Mistaking quotations for wisdom is like mistaking fruitcake for dessert.
5. Twitter seems awfully noisy until you realize that what you hear is nothing at all.
6. A lot of tweets read like air kisses.
7. If you think air kissing is like kissing, you might like fruitcake for dessert.
8. Here, take my fruitcake. _/|\_
9. You can have stacks of fruitcake and you still don’t have anything to eat.
10. Personally speaking, no one seems to be as interested in what I have to say as I am.
11. Tweet this: Things I Learned on Twitter http://bit.ly/d9rbGF
12. RT this: RT @kmaezenmiller Things I Learned on Twitter http://bit.ly/d9rbGF
13. Quote me. – Karen Maezen Miller

If you liked this, you might like: Things I Learned on Facebook.

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death by twitter

August 2nd, 2010    -    1 Comment

“Facebook is like a nosebleed. Twitter is like breathing into a paper bag.” Read more poetic license about our social ills in my first blog post at Smartly LA, a writers collective for “people who get it,” in which I confess how very much I still don’t get social media. “Like pointing to a Twinkie as the defense for murder.” Go there and tell the good doctor how you feel when you’re on a steady diet of social media. Oh, and follow me.

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