Cosmos Café: Open Conversation [2/27]


(T J Williams) #21

Back to the topic of Slow…

"Real life is slow; it takes professionals time to figure out what happened, and how it fits into context. Technology is fast. Smartphones and social networks are giving us facts about the news much faster than we can make sense of them, letting speculation and misinformation fill the gap.
“It has only gotten worse. As news organizations evolved to a digital landscape dominated by apps and social platforms, they felt more pressure to push news out faster. Now, after something breaks, we’re all buzzed with the alert, often before most of the facts are in. So you’re driven online not just to find out what happened, but really to figure it out.”

"After reading newspapers for a few weeks, I began to see it wasn’t newspapers that were so great, but social media that was so bad.
“Just about every problem we battle in understanding the news today - and every one we will battle tomorrow - is exacerbated by plugging into the social-media herd. The built-in incentives on Twitter and Facebook reward speed over depth, hot takes over facts and seasoned propagandists over well-meaning analyzers of news.”

Nothing the choir here doesn’t already know, I’m sure, but I found the writer’s experiment interesting…


(Marco V Morelli) #22

I love the reference to Michael Pollan’s simple rules for eaters (eat food / not too much / mostly vegetables):

Get news. Not too quickly. Avoid social.

I don’t know if I could do print newspapers again, though. They just really take over the dining room table. And the ink. I use the Apple News app, but it is full of highly processed junk news! (An endless scroll.) I do not at all feel that we have good options.


(john davis) #23

I used to read the NY Times everyday and the Village Voice once a week as well as the New Yorker every month and PBS News Hour every night. That was it. I recall hanging out in a French cafe with the niece of a Secretary of State of the Netherlands and she was surprised how informed I was about EU politics. In those days, about a decade ago, there was a reason to read newspapers. That faith has eroded considerably after the recent US elections and not because of the big bad social media. The newspapers have been dominated by the race to the bottom of the barrel, and the professionals are not what they used to be. Most of the big names in print are hugely predictable. I already know what they think.

I enjoy our study circles here and online conversations and I notice that if a friend recommends something ( as TJ has posted this article) I am motivated to read it. In the old days I made a point of finishing everything I started. I finished a book or essay even if I disliked it or was bored by it. The capacity to handle boredom while reading is a necessity. We should not expect to get to the good parts if you are reading something really well written. Our attention span has been so depleted by the algorithmic frenzy that I doubt that it can be easily reformed. I had to go cold turkey. My head cleared in a few days. I no longer trust any of them but I do trust our hard working Cafe crew and expect that I can get more from paying attention here than to reading the slanted views of the newspapers.


(Geoffrey Edwards) #24

While reading the journalist’s essay, I found myself reflecting on why, in my own life, I feel somewhat protected from the excesses discussed. It is true that since viewing Jordan Brown’s film I have changed my relationship with Facebook, and with certain aspects of my digital experience via my iPad (fewer games and more mindful use of apps). However, beyond this, I believe that my daily writing discipline contributes to ensuring that slowthink dominates. Since I took part in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) activity last November, I have been writing a minimum of 1200 words a day on my novels, in addition to various rewriting activities. I usually do this between 9 pm and 12 pm, that is, after my work activities of the day are finished. I spend less time on social networks than I used to, as a result, and writing a novel is, more or less, a form of slowthink. You can do it fast, but unless you are very good, you’ll get mostly crap if you do it too fast.

In one of our recent online cafes, I quoted Andrew Marvell, “My vegetable love will grow/ Vaster than empires and more slow”. This has always been my penultimate reference for slowthinking. I try to manage my life so that significant parts of my thinking/meditating connect to slowtime in this way, and my 20 year plans are also examples of “living in slowtime”. One of the interesting paradoxes of this site (Infinite Conversations), is that despite the fact that we use state of the art technologies, we operate largely in slowtime. It is also one of the indirect advantages of reading Sloterdijk, his writing requires that one slows down to read and understand it, well, as does Gebser, Leguin, Aurobindo, and our other reference points. Beyond the readings, however, the conversation is still finding its voice more than two years into the exercise, and the subject of the conversation is still not fully determined. It is why, also paradoxically, the site has become so addictive.


(Geoffrey Edwards) #25

Well, I note that Sloterdijk states « Satan is a historicist; the good is everything that is over. » So it seems at least to be associated more with the nether than the ether :slight_smile: - at least according to « saint » Peter. Perhaps you have aspirations of Beezlebub, TJ?


(Maia Maia) #26

“I no longer trust any of them” is exactly how I would put it. Actually, what I’ve had to do is withdraw from almost all sources of “news/social media”… and yet the large/important events do get through, plus a lot of really uplifting “small news” and friend-recommended articles . My head is clearer, I’m less stressed and yes, have more time to read books, write, garden, walk to the bird refuge, meditate, make things, and enjoy friends.