Andrew Sullivan

I sat in a large meditation hall, which is located in a converted house novices in Central Massachusetts, and reached into his pocket for his iPhone. Woman in front of the room in front of him holding a basket, smiling radiantly as a priest with a plate for donations. I passed your device and, sitting down on the seat, I felt a sudden stab of panic. If one did not look at me, I think I would have turned around and asked him to return. But I did not. I know why I came here.

A year earlier, as well as many people with addiction, I felt that I had come personal crisis. Fifteen years I was obsessed with the Internet, publishing every day, seven days a week, for several posts in the blog, and finally created a team that monitored the news on the Internet every 20 minutes during peak hours. In an effort to keep track of new memes, I started every morning with a full immersion in the stream of consciousness and Internet news, jumping from site to site, from tweets to tweet, from breaking news to the latest analysis, browsing countless photos and videos.

During the day, I often gave out any analytical assessment, or an argument, or a joke about the events that have occurred or took place at the moment. And sometimes I’m manic weeks to track every tiny detail of the developing story, then to gather all together in the story in real time. I drove an endless dialogue with readers, who carped that, then praise, then booed, then corrected me. I never before my brain was not so long occupied by so many disparate information.

In other words, I literally lived on the Internet. Years passed, and I realized that I no longer alone. Soon, thanks to Facebook for all appeared equivalent of a blog entry and a private audience. More and more people buy smart phones, and immediately immersed in the hectic flow of content, which is also ruthlessly devoured them like once me. Appeared Twitter as a form of instant publication mikromysley.

Members no less addicted to my feedback – and were even more prolific. Then we hit the application to us, inundating all of our remaining free time. This constantly updated and stopping virtual life was now everywhere. I remember in 2007 I decided to stand out and update your blog every half hour. My editor looked at me like I was crazy. But this madness has now become common; once unimaginable pace professional blogger now become normal for everyone.

I joked that if the Internet is killing, I first learned about it. Years later, the joke did not seem funny. In the last year of my life as a blogger, my health began to fail. For 12 months I had four bronchopulmonary infection and each heavier than the previous. My holiday has become simply an opportunity to get some sleep. And in my dreams I saw only bits of code that I used every day to update the site. My friendships atrophied, since I spent all the time in the network. And one day my doctor, I am writing another course of antibiotics, said to me: “You do not die from HIV to die from the Internet?”.

But the reward was too great: the audience of up to 100 000 people per day; profitable media business; a constant flow of information that is irritated, enlightened or infuriated me; niche in the brain center of the unfolding global conversation; and a way to measure your success by the data – it was like a constant dopamine bath for my author’s ego. If the age of the Internet demanded from you as the writer of rebirth, then at least here I was a step ahead of everyone. The problem is that I was not able to be reborn as a man.

I tried to read the book, but now I have this skill was almost lost. I do not have time to read a couple of pages and how stretched my fingers to the keyboard. I tried to meditate, but my mind is kicked, no matter how I tried to curb it. I started to do the exercises every day, and this practice became my only hours of rest during the day. But over time, the online hype became louder and louder in the virtual world of ubiquitous. Although every day I spent many hours in solitude and silence, chained to a laptop, it seemed to me that I am in the center of the constant cacophony of words and images, sounds and ideas, emotions and tirades – in the wind tunnel stun, murderous noise. Much of this noise, as I understood it, was irresistible. And I realized that much of the technology was also irresistible. I began to fear that this new way of life for me will be virtually non-life way.

In the past few months, I realized that I stayed – like most dependent – in a state of denial. I have long belonged to my online life as a supplement to my real life, regarding it as a kind of application. Yes, I have spent many hours talking to others as a disembodied voice, but my real life and body were still here. But then, when my health and well-being deteriorated, I realized that it is impossible to live two lives. Or either. Every hour that I spent on the Internet, has not lived in the physical world. Every minute I spent, immersed in virtual communication, I did not communicate directly with the person. Every second, absorbed some small things, took away from the second reflection, tranquility and spirituality. “Multi-tasking” was a mirage. It was a question of a zero-sum. I was online or voice only, or lived as a man in the world, which from the beginning of time people inhabit.

So, after 15 years of life online, I decided to start living in the real world.

Since the invention of the printing press, each new revolution in the field of information technology gave rise to apocalyptic fears. From panic, that access to the Bible in their own language will destroy the true Christian faith, to disgust, which in the 1950s led to television – new media barbaric invention, about which cultural critics were moaning and howling at every corner. Each stage has a strongly scattering our attention – to previously unimaginable kaleidoscope of cable television in the late XX century to endlessly proliferating expanses of the Internet today. But society has always been able to adapt and adjust without visible loss, but with the obvious progress. So, perhaps it was too easy to see in this new era of mass scattering of dark omen.

But, of course, there was a huge leap, even in comparison with the recent past. These are shocking. Every minute of users around the world are loaded on YouTube 400 hours of video, and users dating site Tinder browsing profiles of more than one million times. Every day put literally billions likes to Facebook. Online media now publish more material than ever before, without respite stamping articles and adding new details to the news every few minutes. Blogs, posts on Facebook, accounts at Tumblr, tweets and promotional publications pereposchivayut added and unwind the same.

We absorb this “content” (as it is now called a text, video or photo), not buying a magazine or newspaper, making your bookmarks on your favorite website or actively choosing what to read or watch. Instead, we are led to these scraps of information through a myriad of small jumps in social networks, where the information falls on us individually selected relevance and accuracy. Do not be fooled into thinking that you keep under control and choose where to press the button. Silicon Valley’s technologies and constantly improving their algorithms create such bait that you can not miss and easy to get to the bait. Information technology than ever aware of their customers and are now much more able to attract them.

And it never ends. Not long ago, although captured surfing the web, but it is a stationary activity. At the table at work or at home on your laptop, you jump down the rabbit hole and emerges back links in a few minutes (or hours). The smartphone also made this rabbit hole portable, inviting us to jump to any place, at any time. Information entered in every moment of life.

And this was done with astonishing rapidity. We almost forgot that ten years ago there were no smartphones, and as recently as 2011, only a third of Americans held. Now – almost two-thirds. This figure rises to 85% if we consider only the young people. And according to a survey the Pew , 46% of Americans last year recognized a simple but remarkable thing: they can not live without it. This device has come out of nowhere and became indispensable in less than a decade. There are not many places where communication is difficult – a plane, subway, desert – and the list is reduced. Even hiking backpacks are now equipped with charging for smartphones. Perhaps the only “safe place” is still only a shower.

I’m exaggerating? Small, but a detailed study in 2015 confirmed that young people use their phones for five hours a day, 85 times. Most of these outputs to the network in less than 30 seconds, but seconds are added to the clock. Significantly: Users do not know how much the dependent. They thought that sitting on the phone twice less than it actually is. But they knew it or not, new technology took about a third of waking hours these young people.

Interrupted, of course, it’s nice, because usually you grab for the phone when manifested someone from your friends. Your brain associates a distraction to people you know (or think you know), and this is the genius of the social networks – the connection of equals. From the earliest times of evolution, people are extremely fond of gossip – some call it the need to keep abreast of the latest news related to friends and family. We hooked on information as varnish as sugar.

And if you give us the same access to the gossip, which today we have to sugar, we can not control themselves. According to a study published in The Atlantic, an ordinary teenager by Snapchat , can exchange messages with your friends, the number of which varies from 10 to 400 thousand. When ETCs accumulate, they give popularity and social status of the user. And it is said to evolutionary psychologists, is fatal. If we have a constant source of information, news and gossip about each other in social networks, we are practically helpless.

Just look around you: people walk along the streets, are machines, walk their dogs and play with their children, buried in phones. Watch yourself in line for coffee during a break at work, while driving or even on the way to the toilet. Visit the airport and you will see the sea bowed necks and dead eyes. We stopped to look up and around, we’re constantly looking down.

If an alien came to the United States five years ago, and then came back today, it would first of all struck him in the eye? This kind of developed a new habit – and everywhere you look, it lives in captivity.

I went to a meditation retreat center in a few months after I left the network, hanging in the air, his life and career. I thought that finally sober. And I was not wrong. After several hours of silence, you are waiting for some kind of anxiety, of a spike, which will cause your interest. But all this is not happening. The silence deepens, and you silence envelops. No one says; no one even looks into the eyes of another – that some Buddhists call “noble silence.” Day was painted by the minute, so that almost all of our time was spent in silent meditation with closed eyes, or in a slow meditative walking on special paths in the woods, or in a joint silent meals. The only word that I have heard or read in ten days, were spoken during the three consultations, two meditations and night conversations about self-awareness.

I spent the previous nine months, honing his meditation practice, but in this crowd I was a freshman and a tourist. (All the others attended a six-week or three-month session). It is obvious that the silence was an integral part of the lives of these people. Their simple way of moving – they soon glided rather than walked, – their open face fascinated me. What, if not insane boredom they experience?

And growing them calm if I’m surrounded by them every day? Typically, each new person in the room adds to the noise; and it looked here, that silence itself increases. Confined to my phone, before I was constantly surrounded by a verbal and visual noise, I was under the endless bombardment of words and images, and yet felt strangely isolated. Among these meditators as I was alone in the silence and darkness, but felt almost united with them. My breathing slowed. My mind calmed down. My body was becoming much more affordable for me. I could feel how it metabolizes food, sniffing, scratching and pulses. It happened when my brain went from the abstract and distant to tangible and close.

What I usually do not notice, it began to intrigue me. On the second day, during a meditative walk through the woods, I began to notice not only the quality of the autumn light filtering through the leaves, but also the diversity of leaves, texture lichen on the bark, and how tree roots entangle and entwine the old stone walls. The first impulse was to grab my phone and take a picture of it, but my pocket was empty. So I just watched. At one point, I got lost and had to trust my intuition to find a way back. I heard birds singing for the first time in many years. Of course, I’ve always heard it, but really have not listened to him.

My goal was to learn how to focus. “Remember – told me before leaving my friend Sam Harris, the meditator atheist – if you are suffering, then you think.” The problem was not how to make it all shut up in my befuddled brain, and to acquaint him with silence, with the prospect, with abandoned spaces that I once knew, where he again filled my mind and soul.

Soon enough, news the world has disappeared from my consciousness. My mind drifted into a trance-like documentary that I saw many years ago – “The Great Silence” by Philip Gröning. This is a film about the ancient Carthusian monastery in the Alps and monastic order, which gave a vow of silence. In one scene novopostrizhenny monk takes care of his garden plot. He purposefully engaged in the same business, then another, and if there is another dimension. He goes from one to the other beds, but tries not to be somewhere at a certain place. It seems that it floats or glides from one place to another.

He seems to avoid what we modern people mean by time. He was not involved in running a race with him; not afraid to spend it in vain; not avoiding monotonous work, from which most of us would recoil.

We all know what brings joy into our lives forever connected to the internet world – communication, approval, laughter, porn information. I do not want to deny anything. But we are only beginning to understand what it will cost us if we all are willing to admit that you would pay. The subtlety of the trap of this new technology is that it lulls us into believing that there are no disadvantages. Just online life over off-line life. We can meet in person, but first advance to discuss the text. We eat together, looking at his belt. We can transform life into what the writer Sherry Turkle calls “life-mixture”.

But, of course, I realized over the years blogerstva, a family that dines at the same table, each buried in your phone, do not eat together. She, on the wording of Turkle, “alone together”. You are where your attention. If you are watching a football match with his son and both are chatting with a friend, you are not fully with your child – and he knows it. Really live with another person is to be empirically with him, catching countless tiny signals from his eyes, voice, body language, context and reactions, often unconsciously reacting to every nuance. It is our deepest social skills that are honed for centuries. They do have a specific person.

Quickly replacing reality with virtual reality, we have reduced the scope of such cooperation, even if we multiply the number of people with whom we interact. We remove or sharply filter out all the information we could get, being with the other person. We bring up other profiles – “friend” in Facebook, the photo in the Instagram, text message – in a controlled and isolated world, which is almost free of obstacles or sudden outpouring of real human interaction. We become “contact each other,” shadows of themselves.

Consider how rarely now you are using the phone to talk to someone. It is much easier, faster and less cumbersome to write a message. A phone call will take a long time; it can make you face the features of the character of another person, his digressions or unexpected emotional needs. Can you remember when you leave a message on voice mail or hear it? Suffice emoticon. Or take the difference between trying to flirt with someone at a bar and scrolling profiles in Tinder, to find a better game. The first is deeply inefficient and requires spending (perhaps vain); the second makes dozens and dozens of people in the clothes hanging on the rack rows.

Not surprisingly, we prefer applications. The whole universe is intimate responses flattened in one remote touch the screen. We hide our vulnerability to embellish our shortcomings and complexes; we project our fantasies on the images on the screen. Refusal still hurts us, but less, because new virtual party on the horizon. We have made sex even safer by removing the unexpected risk, and often physical contact. The amount of time we spend on the search for significantly longer than the time we spend with the objects of our desire.

Our ancient human skills atrophy. GPS, for example, is a godsend to find places where we do not know. But, as Nicholas Carr noted, it has led to the fact that we do not even see, much less not remember the details of the environment, without developing the accumulated memories that give us a sense of place, and control over, that once we called a normal life . Writer Matthew Crawford has described as automated and online life dramatically reduced the number of people who are physically able, through their own eyes, hands and body, to do something, such as a wooden chair or a piece of clothing. Or, as described by Crawford in one of the most exciting of his research, organ. We became who we are as a species, learning tools and making them live, developing extensions of our body and mind. What at first seemed boring and monotonous, it grows in ability and skill – and this is what gives a person a sense of dignity and mutual respect.

Yes, online-life and life more efficient automated, it makes more economic sense, it makes the monotony and a waste of time in achieving practical goals. But this does not give us the feeling of deep satisfaction and pride in their craftsmanship, which we experience in carrying out daily tasks, and it is most acutely felt by those for whom such problems are a means of livelihood, as well as the basis of identity.

Of course, tens of thousands of years is a modest mastery of our practical life, gave us a sense of self-worth, is technology and capitalism are not resolved, it was absolutely not necessary. If we want to find out why desperation spread so quickly in so many discarded on the side of life communities, we need to examine not only economic indicators, but also the disappearance of practical occupations of the past and the sense that they gave life.

The same applies to links that we used in our daily interactions – nods and courtesy when dealing with neighbors, daily meetings at the mall or on the street. It also damaged the charm of virtual communication space for real communication. When we go to the cafe, where everyone is immersed in its own online world, we respond that immerse themselves in one of their online worlds. When someone close to you answers the phone and start talking loudly, as though you do not exist, we realize that we do not really exist in its own space. And gradually, the whole concept of public space, where we meet, interact and learn from our fellow citizens, is crumbling. Turkle describes one of the many mikroposledstvy this: “In his 50 Kara feels that life in her hometown of Portland, Maine, is empty,” sometimes I walk down the street, and I’m the only one who is not connected to the internet … there is no one on the spot , Where is he located. They speak with someone over a mile away. I miss them”.

We are enslaved by dopamine – these instantaneous reactions to our well-devised tweet or a replica in Snapchat , but are we happier? I suspect that this slavery just made us less unhappy or rather less aware of his misfortune, and our phones – just a new and powerful antidepressants. In his work on the contemplation of the Christian writer Alan Jacobs recently praised comedian Louis C. K., who did not give his children smart. On Conan O’Brien SK he explained why he did so: “We need to create the opportunity to just be yourself and do something. Phones is taken away. – he said. – On the day of our life, there is something eternal void … … knowing that all in vain, and you’re the one … that’s why we write posts and drive a car … because we do not want to be alone for a second. ”

He recalled how once was behind the wheel of his car, and the radio was playing a song Bruce Springsteen. She made him a sudden rush of sadness. He instinctively reached for the phone to write about it to as many friends. But then he changed his mind, put down the phone and moved to the roadside to cry. He allowed himself to be alone with their feelings, immerse yourself in them, experience them, without interruption, without the help of digital devices. And then he was able to experience what is not available to most of us – he came out of the pit of suffering alone. If there is no night of the soul, which is not illuminated by flickering of the screen, there will be no hope of the morning. He said of the modern world in which we live: “You will never feel quite sad or completely happy, you feel … as if satisfied with your results. And then you die. That’s why I do not want to give the phone to your children. ”

Gone are the early days of the retreat, the impression of novelty gradually weakened, and I noticed that my meditation skills were subjected to more rigorous testing. Thought bubbles; memories blocked now; session of silence began to be accompanied by mild anxiety.

And then, suddenly, on the third day, when I walked through the woods, I was suddenly rolled forward. I still do not know what was the reason, but I think the point is that these shady, silent forest, running along the slopes of the hills streams and birds, fluttering in the damp air, awakened my memories of childhood. I grew up a lonely boy who spent long hours walking in the woods and forests of his native Sussex in England. I explored this terrain, and with friends and alone – playing in his head imagined scenarios, creating small nooks where I could spend a lot of time to read, to study every little path through the woods and noticed every flower, weed or fungus, which I I ran. But this was a pastime, including a way to escape from the house where my mother fell ill with bipolar disorder after the birth of my younger brother, and never recovered. Most of my youth and adolescence that she lay in the hospital, then come out of them, and because of its status it was very hard to hide their own pain and suffering of the sensitive older son.

Later I realized that I had absorbed most of her torment, hearing her screams in frustration and grief during the regular, terrible fights with my father, and not knowing how to stop it or help it. I remember how she was crying in the car at the thought of returning home, taking me out of primary school, or as I held her, she poured out my soul, crying and whispering about their washed-life in a small town, where it is totally dependent on her husband . As a child, it takes me a few times, the first time when I was four years old, and even today I can think of corridors and rooms of hospitals, where she was treated, and we visited her.

I knew that the scar from this injury was still in my heart. Two decades I have passed psychotherapy, unraveling and exploring this injury, trying to understand how it has affected my intimacy with other people, it aggravated my own bouts of teenage depression as life with this pain, resulting from the most powerful source of love in my life, made me completely broken vessel, as I am now. But I’ve never felt so alive that ever since, when the injury first swallowed me determine my future life. As if slowly and gradually removing all distracting from my life, I was suddenly confronted with the fact that I was distracting myself. Leaning against a tree trunk, I suddenly stopped and doubled over, trembling and sobbing from the pain had come again.

And this time, even when I finally returned to the hall for meditation, I felt relief. I could not call my husband or a friend and talk about it. I could not check your email, update your Instagram or write to someone who might have shared my pain. I could not ask any of my friends if they have experienced something similar. I waited, that the mood will rise, but only became worse. In the silence of the hours passed, my heart was beating, and my head was spinning.

I decided that I could escape if the attempt to describe my feelings. Competition for the best name win two words in my head – “unbearable suffering”. And when the day after I had a 15 minute conversation with the counselor assigned to me, those words flew over my mouth. After my panic, painful confession, he looked at me, one eyebrow raised, with a blissful half-smile. “Oh, it’s perfectly normal – he said calmly and cordially. – Do not worry. Be patient. It will pass. ” And what happened with time. The next day, feeling began to weaken, meditation has improved, grief turned into a kind of calm and repose. I remembered other moments from his childhood – the beauty of the forests, the joy of communicating with friends, support, sister, grandmother maternal love. Yes, I prayed to come relief. But this rise has not been the result of divine intervention or effort, rather, it was a natural process of revision of healing and recovery. It was like an ancient, long since buried the gift.

Philosopher Charles Taylor in his book “secular age” ( A Secular of Age ) about how the modern West has lost a widespread religious practice, uses the term “social imaginary” for a description of how we think of our societies. It means a set of interrelated beliefs and practices that may undermine or oust other kinds of faith. He says that we are not moved by faith to a secular one fell swoop. Certain ideas and practices made the other not so much false as less viable and important. So, modernism gradually weakened spirituality in favor of commerce, which diminish the silence and simplicity of existence in favor of the noise and constant action. The reason why we live in a culture, more and more without costing faith, not that science somehow denied the unprovable, and that the white noise of secularism destroyed the silence in which faith would survive or be reborn.

The English Reformation began, as we recall, with attacks on monasteries and the silence, which is not expelled Protestants, but laughed at the philosophers of the Enlightenment. Gibbon and Voltaire, represents the era taken in relation to monasticism position somewhere between condescension and outright contempt. The thunder and the devastation of the industrial revolution destroyed what remained of silence, and modern capitalism did business central part of our culture, and effectively meet the needs and desires become our primary collective goal. We have become a civilization to achieve results – and America’s development, in a way, crowned her. In modern times, over the centuries, silence has become an anachronism, even as a symbol of useless superstitions that we have left behind. The smartphone revolution of the last decade in a sense, became just the latest turn of this mechanism, when the few remaining bastions of silence – tiny cracks inactivity in our lives – methodically filled with new and new stimuli and noise.

Yet our need for silence never completely disappeared, because our practical successes, no matter how impressive they may be, will never fully fill us. They always give place to new desires and needs, always require an update or restore always insufficient. Mania in our online life confirms this: we are always leaf through and scroll, because it is never fully satisfied. The late British philosopher Michael Oakeshott called sharply this truth “murderous doing.” It seems there is no end to this paradox of practical life and there is no exit, and only an infinite number of efforts that eventually all fail.

Except, of course, the case when we choose a spiritual reconciliation with this useless trying to go beyond the infinite range of non-permanent human achievements. It is also necessary to recognize that at the end of life there is also the great silence of death, with which we have to accept. When I first went to church as a child, I understood that this is a very special place, as there are quiet. Mass itself was full of silence – the silence of the liturgical, that can never be natural in the theater; those minutes of silence after Communion, when we are called upon to withdraw completely to prayer; of liturgical space, which seemed to be strongly emphasized that no one here is in a hurry. And this silence separates what we once regarded as sacred, denoting the space beyond the secular world filled with noise, business and shopping.

There’s only one place like the church – the library, and the silence there, too, he pointed to something beyond – to study, which takes time and patience; the pursuit of truth, which leaves behind the practical life. As a moment of silence, which we sometimes honor the memory of victims of the tragedy, negovoreniya act signals that we respond to something deeper than everyday life, something more fundamental than can be put into words. I seem to see the day when in 1987 at the National Mall in Washington in memory of AIDS victims was a huge crowd, and a wave of hundreds of lively chattering of people took to the stage. But the closer they came, and the more they peered into the field incredibly naked grief, became the quieter their voices, and a great emptiness filled the air. It’s different, though said silence. It is not our everyday life.

Most civilizations, including our own, previously understood it. Thousands of years ago, according to the historian Dermed McCulloch, not called by name, often inscrutable God is silent Jewish Scriptures crossed paths with the Platonic conception of the divine, and it is so beyond human comprehension and imperfection that no words can describe it accurately. Hidden God of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures often said, without saying a word. But Jesus, like Buddha opened his silence as much as your own words. He was a preacher, who spent 40 days in the wilderness; prisoner who refused to defend himself at the trial. In a converted novitiate, where there was a retreat, left two stained-glass window depicting Christ. One – He’s in the garden of Gethsemane, in the bloody sweat, one awaiting execution. On the other – he at the Last Supper, and the beloved disciple John bowed his head on his chest. No one he not shown speaker.

This Judeo-Christian tradition recognized the critical distinction – and tension – between noise and silence, between the way to spend the day, and how to spend the rest of his life. Saturday – the Jewish establishment, takeover of Christianity – was a tribute to the collective silence, a moment of peace, exposing our lives to the light of eternity. It has helped to define the western public life once a week for centuries, and only in the last couple of decades it has dissolved in the commercial cacophony, and almost none of it has not regretted. Saturday reflected now discounted the belief that sustained the spiritual life is simply impossible for most mortals without such a refuge from the noise and the work that protects us and reminds us of who we really are. But as a modern street lighting gradually eclipsed the stars as cars, planes, factories and shimmering digital screens have deprived us of the silence, which had previously been a prerequisite for the health of the human imagination.

It changes us. Slowly, so that we do not even notice, we destroy the space where we can find not amenable to constant pressure, desire or duty to support our minds and souls. A smartphone is almost entirely driven them. Toro complained that pressure for more than a hundred years ago: “I went to the woods because I wanted to live sensibly, deal only with the most important facts of life and try something from her to learn that was not before his death, that I do not live . I do not want to live life instead of fakes – it is too precious for that. ”

When you enter into a temporary temple at the festival Burning Man, which is held before Labor Day for the technical elite in the Nevada desert, it is difficult to conduct any conversations. Someone hammered into a corner; others hold hands and cry; several people pinned the note to the memory wall; the rest are on their knees, meditate or just sit. Decorated wooden building temple competes only with a massive, like a tower, human figure, which will be burned, like the temple, when the festival reaches its climax, and tens of thousands of people will look at the flame.

These architects of our online world come here to avoid those things that they descended on us all. They come into the wilderness, where there is no cellular connection. You leave your phone in your tent, because it is completely useless to the more ravishing these days. Here reigns the spirit of radical self-reliance (seven days you live with only what they could bring to this huge temporary city) and social equality ethics. You have to communicate only as a man with other people – without a hierarchy. You dance and experiment; you build a community in the various camps. And for many it is the culminating point of the year – a separate world of fantasy and friendship, enhanced drugs that increase your sense of compassion, wonder or awe.

As the medieval carnival, this new form of religion wins Convention, that somehow govern our lives. As a safety valve, releasing it from the power accumulated cacophony pressure. Although it is easy to laugh over here trying to achieve what was once quite ordinary, we provided our culture, and it shows that perhaps we are not entirely helpless in this new era scattered. We can begin to balance, to re-learn what we so thoughtlessly discarded, manage our neuroses so that they do not fully swallowed us.

There are signs of correction toward a more human life. For example, according to a study conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, in 2012 there were about 20 million people practicing yoga in the United States. By 2016, their number has almost doubled. Self-awareness at the same time has become for many corporate catchword, but for others – a new form of mental health. I think it is difficult to explain the sudden surge of interest in and tolerance of marijuana in the past 15 years, not taking into account the intensification of the digital environment. Grass – a form of self-medication for the era of mass scattering of consciousness, providing a quick and easy way to soft contemplation in a world where required for that space and time, all the time is not enough.

If the church realized that the greatest danger to the faith today bears no hedonism, and absent-mindedness, then perhaps they would have been able to find a new approach to this harassed the digital generation. It seems that Christian leaders believe that the fight against absent-mindedness by the flock should be even greater distraction. Their worship degenerated into emotional spasms, their churches are filled with light and noise, and closed in the afternoon, when darkness and silence could really draw those whose hearts and minds are immersed in the world wide web. But the Catholic mysticism of meditation – through reading rosaries, Thanksgiving or just contemplative prayer – a tradition thirsty revival. If the monasteries were open to visit, they could try to meet those needs, which are all with great success meets booming yoga movement.

Would not it be great if there were more such mundane places: restaurants, where smartphones are dealt at the entrance, a cafe, which is listed on the sign no vayf? Or more practical more than a meal, for which we agree in advance to lay down our gadgets in the box? Or lunch, during which the first one would get the phone pays the bill? We can, if we want every week to recreate digital Sabbath – just one day, when we are 24 hours do not check their phones. Or you can simply turn off notifications. The man – kind, in the long term, ensuring its preservation. Each innovation should be its response, and even the star analysts of our new culture, such as Sherry Turkle, we see the potential to restore the balance in our lives.

And yet I wonder. Ubiquitous virtual life temptations create a mental climate, which is still terribly difficult to cope. When passed the days, then weeks, then months, after my retreat, my daily meditation sessions had begun to falter. There was a campaign that requires attention, which was headlined by a walking app Snapchat . For some time, I limited my immersion in news bulletins the New York the Times , and then gradually found myself on the fact that scan the headlines from countless sources, fill the screen; even after some time I got back to my old life, absorbing every bit of news about the election campaign, even though I knew that each of them did not last, and knew that I no longer need to absorb it all at work.

Then there were other traps: the attractiveness of online pornography, to which can now be accessed by any teenager; ease of replacing any call message flow; Escape from reality in an online game, where all the risks are real human interaction are eliminated; new video Instagrame and new friends in the film. All this is slowly chipping stone for stone from my meditative calm. I cut his daily sessions of silence from an hour to 25 minutes, and then, almost a year later, began to make it through the day. I knew it was fatal – the key to achieving sustainable peace of mind from meditation in the strict discipline and practice every day, whether you like it or not, whether you feel it’s working or not. Like the weekly Mass, it is this routine gradually creates a space that allows your life to breathe. But in a world in which I returned, all conspired to take away from me this space. “I do what I hate”, – said the eldest son in the “Tree of Life” Terrence Malick.

I did not give up, but every day at different moments, I see that the subjects. I have a book that I want to read; where I want to walk; friends who have to meet; the life to be lived fully. And I understand that this is, in some ways, just another fairy tale in a huge book of human fragility. But this new epidemic of distraction – the specific weakness of our civilization. And it threatens not only our minds, even though they are taking new forms by digital pressure, as our souls. In this case, if the noise subsides, we can even forget that we have them.

New York Magazine

Translation Mary Stroganov specially for “Matrony.ru”

PS The editorial staff does not share the view of the author of the marriage rules, his religious preferences, as well as a look at the current state of the Church. The material has been published, edited with the aim to draw attention to an accurate diagnosis of Internet addiction, delivered by the author himself and contemporary society, as well as personal experience of overcoming this new social disease.