Slowing down and speeding up with Anais Nin

“The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. It eliminates the vice of procrastination, the sin of postponement, failed communications, failed communions. This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters. meetings, introductions, which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked. This feeling has become a rarity, and rarer every day now that we have reached a hastier and more superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us. The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision”   Anais Nin

How much more prescient are these words now, in the advent of social networking. Are we worrying needlessly about the delusional nature of a social networking site where hundreds of ‘friends’ are a normality to a member of the general public. I don’t imagine Facebook affects you if you are moderately normal and functioning within a network of family and friends, but there are signs that many people in U.K are not functioning in a way that I would term healthily. Parents are overly protective of young children with consequences that have not yet been fully recognised, understood or overcome. Children who are discouraged to go out, who are only permitted to have friends within the restricted parameters of parented chaperoning will be unable to experience the pain and the joy of exploration of the world, and of human relationships.
Anais writes about the secret of a full life, and I am aware of the word ‘secret’. Most of us don’t live a full life all the time, or at least I think that most of us learn that living fully is only part of the experience of being human, some part of that experience includes feeling that we are inadequate, or living less fully than we want to. ‘Secret’ suggests a full life is only available some of the time, and I think that’s right. How we unlock it’s potential is down to each individual to find the authority of their own understanding of need and the confidence to search for a way to fulfil that need. What I think about social networking is that it can both enable and disable those attempts. We can’t remove the positioning of social networking in peoples lives, and it would be disingenuous to suggest that it would be a positive move. But we can manage the position it is allowed in the lives of youngsters growing up, helping them to realise it as an adjunct to existing networks of real friends, real family. Facebook and the internet is a place where reality and fantasy co-exist. It should be treated with a lightness of touch , a recognition of it’s limitations , and an awareness of it’s potential dangers. It isn’t cars that cause pile ups or kill pedestrians, it’s drivers, and the same goes with all the technological wizardry that connects the human race. Let’s have ‘L’ plates on our computer screens, let’s have an agreed ‘Highway Code’. Like the car, it is the speed of this thing that can bring benefits and disadvantages. We need to learn how to cope with the speed and remember that sometimes it’s more fun to walk, and yes, healthier too. A full life contains stillness as well as adventure, introspection and reflection as well as boogie nights, though they add to it.

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