Hamlet’s Blackberry (Amazon link) is a book by William Powers which has a lot to say about simple living. Subtitled A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, it talks about how hard it can be to be away from your online connections, through cellphones and computers both. And how easy it is for us to skip from one thing to another so quickly that we never have time to concentrate.
I didn’t realize how bad it can be out there in the big world! Living in a remote small town and having a home business that rarely involves any kind of clients, Kelly and I are pretty insulated.
Powers begins with a section called “The Conundrum of the Connected Life,” which includes a hilarious and thought-provoking tale of his falling overboard from the family boat. No problem, he can swim, but his mobile phone died, taking with it a lot of stuff he had meant to back up.
Then there is a section on “philosphers of screens,” who turn out to be Plato, Seneca, Gutenberg, Shakespeare, Ben Franklin, Thoreau, and McLuhan. After I read the first of these, I was hooked on finding out how Powers would tie these ancients in with our modern dilemmas. He did, very well. Socrates took a dim view of books? Why?
The last section talks about Disconnectopia. He, his wife, and his son turned off their internet connection for the weekends. They have a life! But how did they manage it?
I’m not prepared to go offline all weekend, but I am being more conscious of my computer time and the rest of my life. I had been thinking of getting a Blackberry but decided my plain old cellphone is just fine.