Slowing Down Is An Act Of Rebellion

We need to slow down.

Right? I mean, this isn’t news to any one is it?

We’re all well aware that the endless noise in our lives from TV and social media is creating shorter attention spans and shallower interactions, dismantling democracy and depressing us. We’re stuck in our screens, reducing all our engagement with the world to mere emoticons and emojis.

Everywhere it is evident that the world we inhabit is not built to encourage reflection or introspection. We zip from moment to moment, living from bill to bill, anticipating next month’s rent, binge-watching Netflix, and consuming news like junk food.

And of course like me you are sick to the back teeth of hearing about it because, well, as I said at the beginning: this isn’t news to anyone.

Tyler Durden from Fight Club tells us that advertising has us chasing shit we don't need.
Tyler Durden was complaining about our spiritual emptiness in 1999 in Fight Club:
Alexis Tocqueville suggested in the mid-19th century that we were increasingly devoid of a sense of higher purpose, disappearing into our “petty and vulgar pleasures”.
French diplomat, political scientist and historian Alexis Tocqueville suggested in the mid-19th century that we were increasingly devoid of a sense of higher purpose, disappearing into our “petty and vulgar pleasures”.
And the ever chipper aul Nietzsche described humanity as potentially reaching a place where our only aspiration in life was to a “pitiable comfort”.

(There’s more on the last two here).

So you may also feel, as I do, that it’s pointless lamenting it all. After all, aren’t we powerless in a system built to feed that mindless treadmill, to encourage our worst dependencies and consumption, to play to our fears and insecurities?

I mean, “what are we supposed to do?” I hear you exclaim. “Switch off Facebook and Twitter? Retreat from our online lives? Download the Headspace app, don some cheesecloth trousers and take up yoga? Focus on clearing our minds?”

Mindfulness and meditation on the beach.
Aum. Photo from here , which includes a really interesting discussion about mindfulness.

The answer, according to a news portal called Tortoise , is a resounding NO.
The internet is clearly inextricably linked with our day-to-day lives. There’s no separating from that, because to do that would be to disconnect from the community.
What they suggest instead is that “if we can agree on anything, it’s that our times require new thinking”.

The practice of mindfulness means nothing if it does not extend beyond the ten minute breathing session on your bedroom floor to permeate everything in your day-to-day: the way you interact with the people around you and the community you inhabit.
I’ll let them tell you a little more about their thinking themselves:

From Trump’s attack’s on journalists and incitement to violence, to Italy’s rise in hate of the media, from the slaughter of journalists in Mexico , to state involvement in the silencing of journalists in Russia : clearly it behoves the powerful to keep the media AND its readers confused, noisy, and incoherent. To keep it ticking along, one headline after another, each story more inconsequential than the next on the bad-news industrial line.


So it is that mindfulness becomes about more than burning incense and observing sunrises, more than switching off your phone and taking windy walks. It becomes a deliberate act of rebellion to say “I will be truly present in the world” by taking the time to choose what you read and to read it well, without letting others rush you.

Which is why a media house like Tortoise is so refreshing, inspiring – and desperately needed, as they join the ranks of Delayed Gratification (whose mission statement is kind of in the title ) and Danish paper Zetlund who believes:

Exciting too is Tortoise’s creation of something called a ThinkIn – something not dissimilar to a TedTalk, but where members can contribute to the discussion. It points to the role we all can play in shaping debate and the future of our generation.

We can do more than merely hope for the movement to reach critical mass and effect the paradigmatic shift we so desperately need: we can become a part of that movement.

You don’t need to read more, just read slower, and find your inner tortoise.

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