Here is his message:
"An enormous transformation has occurred in the world from the 1950's and '60's of my youth to today. A transformation so vast that it has altered all that we do and say and think, yet often in ways so subtle and ubiquitous that we are hardly aware of them. Among other things, the world today is faster, more scheduled, more fragmented, less patient, louder, more wired, more public. For want of a better phrase, I will call this world 'the wired world'."
For sure, there are many advantages of technology. It has improved medicine and communication vastly.
But Lightman adds:"It has come at a cost. And it is time that we recognize what we have lost".
I was very interested in Lightman's perspective on the mixed blessing of this 'wired world'. I have always recognized a change in the world with each new invention and knew that we were losing something important in very little parcels. I often yearn for the calmer, quieter past.
This book was written in 2018 and talks about the rate of anxiety and depression in teenagers. Quote:"Some experts say that the main driver is the massive and pervasive presence of the digital grid, with little opportunity or desire to disconnect".
Teenagers report feeling 'lonely', when what they are really missing is 'themselves'. They have never been able to sit quietly and discover who they really are.
Lightman also talks about the damage to creative thinking and the loss of 'replenishment' of the mind.
I really relate to this book because I fight the access to technology all around me. I know there are many advantages but I am not willing to give over my 'privacy'. It sounds bizarre, but I don't want to be available 24/7. I want to be alone with myself and my thoughts.
And so, I was surprised that Alan Lightman himself, who knows the value of the separate human spirit, says: "Against my will, knowing all the dangers, I have been sucked into the maelstrom. I have heard the song of the Sirens and succumbed. I should have tied myself to the mast".
"Little by little, our world has been transformed. Little by little, we have lost the silences, the needed time for contemplation, the open spaces in our minds, the privacies we once had. We have lost the knowledge of who we are and what is important to us. All of it happening so gradually and compellingly that we haven't noticed".