This week, the brilliant Arianna Huffington, in her adroit weekly roundup column, introduces the new, “GPS for the Soul”.
She discusses “Freedom”, a popular app that “allows users to cut off from the internet”.
Maybe I’ve been adrift on my own island of the mind, but pow! this hit me awake. Excuse me, but are we authentically at a place where people need a technology to turn off the internet?
What happened to choice, determination, the human finger?
Are we simply embedding the inclination to depend on a technological app rather than encouraging the glee of individual choice and self-generated ability?
In other words, in this case, is a ‘Killer App” a character or “soul” killer? Is the app a killer of strength- building, deleting the responsibility of personally making a tough choice and sticking to it for a specific amount of time?
“Killer”, as in “killer app”, is an interesting word.
I certainly don’t want to be a buzz killer, because I know exactly how exciting a new app can be. I have an app that delivers beautiful food with no calories for a party of eight, delicious and right into my kitchen while I sleep.
So, don’t be thinking I am one of those anti-app people.
It makes good sense to tie the internet with the soul, since we are all involved, to greater or lesser degrees, with the internet, although not necessarily with the soul.
Especially not at the same time.
We might as well be lit from the soul while we engage with the machine.
But is this possible in the most powerful way?
The soul experience is not known to be connected with material machinery, apart from experimental psychology labs in academic basements.
Of course, if this is truly the only access some people can have with the notions of being alive and having soul, then hurray for technology.
I often think that technology is especially wondrous for those who are deeply challenged in human connection, autistic, or suffering from profound phobias.
For the rest of humanity, I have questions.
The most ordinary question is whether there is any soul to be found in technology, or whether this is a snapshot of the emerging close-up of our removed, faux relationship with the soul.
Question: What is the worst-case scenario with the seemingly sweet, benign, even humanitarian, idea of a soul app?
Answer: That the result of the app is to intrinsically remove the entire experience of real-time soul, replaced by a technology that reinserts a concept of soul. What then remains is a wildly popular virtual soul experience, asking nothing of anyone but to just plug in.
Don’t worry about plugging out; it does that for you.
A cruise control for the soul.
My concern turns out to be what in fact has already happened in our society, this social remove of “soul”.
The lack of heartfelt introspection leading to self-knowledge; the lack of truth in social relationships.
The word “connection”, in Arianna’s piece, does not mean deep relating. It refers to social media internet connectivity.
“Disconnection”, similarly, means taking a step back from “over-relating”, again not intimately, but via internet “connections”.
We have unhooked from relating with people and are constantly urged to hook up more with technology, only to be offered an app that gives us a break from virtual connectivity.
As my Greek chorus would say, “Oy!”
Obviously, I am questioning something that people are cheering about and hungry to have.
Hence, the hoped-for popularity of the “Freedom” app.
Sounds like a winner.
Here’s my question:
What now remains of those words, “freedom” and “soul”. What do they mean?