Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Over-Load Eluded

Originally posted on July 13, 2011

One of the challenges of the postmodern era is that we become aware—no, we are gently assaulted—with a range of interesting and compelling possibilities, and also calls to action from seemingly noble causes. This morning I was reminded of someone who says the Navy’s sonar testing is hurting the whales and inhibiting their own emission of world-healing, intelligence-supporting mandala-shaped infra-sound voice expressions. So I should do something about it! Raise the call, run around shouting—if nothing else, send money. Hm. Is this flim-flam or is it real? Second, even if it were real, how obligated am I to support every noble cause?

In doing research for a series of talks on visionaries, I’ve come upon a book that presents stories of noble people working to help their own or certain underprivileged communities in the world. All this reminds me of the pressure of mass communications on whatever nerve in our brain lets us know that we should perhaps feel guilty for a sin of omission—for not doing enough to support this or that noble cause.

It does no good to protest that the cause is less than noble or worthy. That is too easily argued down and I’d lose. And it’s evident that my life is not sufficiently strife-filled and guilt-laden—perhaps indeed I should be on the battle-front somewhere. If I’m not really suffering, I’m not doing enough. Nah. I don’t buy that—but there is a tiny temptation there to do so.

Meanwhile I’m seduced in another way: A couple of days ago in our community computer club a very nice lady gave a power-point illustrated talk on all the goodies we can get from the latest iTunes program. Whoa. Part of me felt seduced, I wanted all that stuff. Part of me felt repelled: “Get thee behind me, Satan!” I didn’t want to be distracted by trivia.  But some of it wasn’t trivia, it seemed to be really interesting! That’s a key word in my vocabulary.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, another drama: Allee and I have started reading a book titled “What Technology Wants.” The author is a study in contradictions: Many of his roles have been almost anti-technology, while other roles have been very involved in technology. What comes to the fore is the challenge for each person to find his or her own balance, as in the song, The Gambler: “Ya gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run!”

So back to the other type of pull, the social. It occurred to me that our choice of what to feel compelled by must be further internalized. Instead of all noble causes imposing a valid dose of guilt, I think it becomes imperative for sanity and health to decline 95% of the appeals. When it was the occasional charity, maybe, but it’s become an incessant barrage. Giving some weight to the wisdom of drawing boundaries establishing priorities in a world of “over-choice” (and that blends into “over-demand,” a new kind of wisdom involves a lot of drawing the line.

It’s yet another type of self-control—somewhere between “you’re being too selfish” and “you gotta be selfish a bit.” So I was just struck by two different types of appeals to the evaluating function—from the now-overload of that which is “interesting,” and the now-overload of that which “deserves your support.” Maybe then add a third, a media potential, a tool that promises more connectivity, a social media sign-up, for example. Nah, too much time investment and in truth my own life-style at present doesn’t need it. I do enough, like reacting on this blog. (Smile.)

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