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  • Writer's pictureHailo

On the Importance of Digital Boundaries

Welcome to (re)Cognition Summer, with Hot Literati.

Let's get your mind back, baby.

Unless you're new here, you know I think about the tech, consciousness, and social media feedback loop a lot. That's why we're devoting a whole season to it. But it's still so easy to fall victim to it because it's so deeply enmeshed in today's society.

I was jogging tonight, for example, and listening to music. And checking the time. And looking at discord. All at once.

I messaged the Discord channels with the writers and our new interns, asking how they felt about mandatory off-hours, with a heavy emphasis on social media. They were all very into this. Later, while on the elliptical and watching a David Foster Wallace Video and scrolling through tumblr, I messaged them promising to get them a certain email tonight, but that they shouldn't open it until the morning.

And then I ran home to music. And was about to put the DFW interview back on, but then I started asking myself WTF am I doing??? It felt so automatic, even if it was high-brow, and I hated that. I hated the thought of the interns getting that email and opening it tonight, knowing that they want to be fast and efficient.

DFW talks in that interview a lot about industrialization. About our discomfort with silence. Tonight I realized my own.

I had a strong meditation phase, but even this, you could argue has roots in my sometimes scary Youtube algorithm (what one of my favorite people that I'm dating has called "manic men with podcasts with two camera angles") and a relentless climb towards self-optimization. Choosing to sit in stillness with no purpose is something we've lost touch with, if our generation ever really had the luxury to begin with.

I am convinced that it's in these moments of stillness that God speaks to you, or through you.

We've had the construct of people owning your time for a while now. I think it is this feeling that DFW refers to when discussing his upper middle-class acquaintances committing suicide and inspiring Infinite Jest. (But also, someone in book club was discussing how America is built on the energy of the slave trade -- on the energy of people trying to own other people) And now we are at a crazy battle in which people are owning one another's consciousnesses, and perhaps consciences as well.

I chose stillness and silence when I got home this evening. I'm writing this by hand (and now, a day later I'm typing it). I will schedule send the interns their emails for a reasonable time and will urge them all to speak up about what hours are sacred for them (& to choose many of them).

My brilliant friend Amber and I discussed the beauty of slow growth (or better yet release, trust, existence, energy) on a strange evening as I periodically checked my phone for trickling responsibilities.

What if the fiber optic cables give out tomorrow? What if all the speakers blow? We don't need to grow fast. We don't need to take over the world. A blog post can wait until tomorrow. We've made all of this up. There are no fires. You're not going to get burnt.

Turn off your notifications. Shut off your phone. Go into the world. This is media. This is 0s and 1s. The only real things are my hand on this paper and your eyes on your screen.

What would you rather be looking at? How would you rather be feeling?

Go, seek that out. It's not on a screen.

xo Hailo


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