Tuesday, January 16, 2007


The Endangered Joy of Serendipity

A friend sent me this link to an article from the St. Petersburg Times by William McKeen, chairman of the journalism department at the University of Florida.

It's not about the John Cusack movie, well maybe a little bit. But it doesn't mention it at all. I'm not going to expound too much on the points he makes, because you can just go click and read it yourself! I just really like the idea that we miss out on a lot because we are too directed, too focused and too "plugged-in" to enjoy some of lifes surprises. We don't much happen upon things by chance anymore. I'll share a couple of my favorite lines and hope you enjoy reading the article.

The modern world makes it harder to discover what you didn't know you were looking for.

In another context, Thomas Paine once wrote: "The harder the conquest, the more glorious the triumph. 'Tis dearness only that gives everything its value." . . . Looking for something and being surprised by what you find - even if it's not what you set out looking for - is one of life's great pleasures, and so far no software exists that can duplicate that experience.

Technology undercuts serendipity. It makes it possible to direct our energies all in the name of saving time. Ironically, though, it seems that we are losing time - the meaningful time we once used to indulge ourselves in the related pleasures of search and discovery. We're efficient, but empty.

Except for matters of life and death - and shopping at Wal-Mart - there's an emptiness in finding something quickly. (We all want to minimize time in Wal-Mart, don't we? Life is too short to spend too many of its precious moments in that particular hell.)

The modern world is conspiring against serendipity. But we cannot blame technology. I've met this enemy, and it is us. We forget: We invented this stuff. We must lead technology, not allow technology to lead us. The world is a better and more cost-effective place because of technology, but we've lost the imperfections inherent in humanity - the things that make life a messy and majestic catastrophe.

We must allow ourselves to be surprised. We must relearn how to be human, to start again as we did as children - learning through awkward and bungling discovery. Otherwise, when it's all over and we face the Distinguished Thing, we will have led extremely efficient but monstrously dull lives.

3 crafty mcCrafters commented:

HeatherLynn said...

amy! i am so into this and am going to share it!

recently, on the "today" show they did a focus where they challenged a couple to give up their cell phones for a week. they struggled.

too much techno not enough connection in this world.

thanks for sharing, sugar!

Unknown said...

I love cell phone holidays! They are the best!

HeatherLynn said...

where are the pics of skyline drive and lil gal? i keep checking and nothing :(

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