Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Returning to a simpler, practical life? This is it!

Without a doubt, I've embraced the Digital Life.

I'm reliant on the Internet, computers and other technological equipment for work and personal use. I've grown to depend on digital cameras, mobile phones and computers. Emails and blogs play a significant part in how I maintain personal contacts and relationships.

Then from time to time, I'd wonder where this Digital Life is taking me? A bit like what Greg (soundclasher/ surfer/ biker/ English teacher) was thinking:
For a long time I've daydreamed of returning to a simpler, more practical life. A life filled with more tangible things. I'm worried our generation will see a day when electronics become boat anchors; be it due to neutron bombs, energy exhaustion, global collapse, environmental rage... or Mr. Kim Il, my next door neighbor! If this happens, and even if it doesn't, what am I left with, both physically and mentally?

"A life filled with more tangible things" -- these seven words struck me.

Greg goes on to hyphothesise on what he might do with his computer, MIDI keyboard, MP3 player and cameras if thrown back to the stone age.

But I'm not thinking about the "What if technology fails" scenario (though my take on that is life will go on and that life will find a way).

What I've asked myself was whether there's any real use to all the hours I spend on making music and art on the computer, blogging, reading blogs, taking far more digital pictures than I have time to view, emailing and IMing with friends and contacts...

(At this point, some of my friends would say "get a kid" but let's not go there -- I don't want to start a debate on "having a life means having children" and all that).

But then the more I thought about it, the more I ask myself, "What's the tangible stuff anyway?"

And finally I figured, "This IS the simpler, practical life!"

I'm (in my own words) an "In-betweener" -- a generation conscious of a life that was pre-digital/ Internet, but have embraced a post-Internet one wholeheartedly. I prefer dabbling on the computer for music and art (as opposed to the non-computer way"), for various reasons. It's part of my regular routine to start up the computer (at home) to go online, check emails, read a couple of blogs, write one if I feel like it.

But I'm not born into the Digital Life. I still maintain a written journal which I write entries till this day (stuff that I don't blog about). I still draw, sketch and paint on paper. If there's a opportunity for a "live" band jam session, I'd still want to get together.

And there are things that the Digital Life can never fulfill, to which I've sought other means -- running, swimming (mostly procrastinating about them two but...), tai-chi, and recently, yoga. Most of all, the companionship of my wife and our dog, my families and close friends.

This blog post could very well be my self-justification for the life I have. I'd prefer to think of it as catharsis.

The things I do, the digital lifestyle that I lead -- they just make sense to me; I find them balanced and productive; they don't interfere with my job (and I try my darnest not to allow my job to interfere in them); I derive personal satisfaction from those activities.

We don't always have to do things to lead to somewhere specific (and this is the same principle as reading for pleasure -- as opposed to work -- isn't it?)

I've accepted that the Digital and the Non-digital aspects make up my life. It is as simple and practical a life as I know it.


  1. Good points, Ivan, I've been finding it the same as you. The digital and non-digital complement each other very well, I find. Both aspects have different things to offer - I really love learning and playing with new things online as well as interacting with others - and non-digitally I really value the interactions too, as well as pen and paper and all the "tangible" things :) I don't think you need to justify it!

  2. honestly, this is a good post as it touches on the reality of urban person living in a digital era where simplicity and complexity can becomes blur at times (or most times). People say focus, but the truth is finding the true self, wehre peace resonates. I find that in you through the writing on this post. well done and perhaps can say you have arrived at another era of maturity?

  3. You don't find me agreeing with you very often, but in this case, I do agree. Technology is meant to make our life simpler - I don't think any one of us wants to go back to card catalogue days as librarians. I'm looking forward to the day when every information we need and every digital communication mode is collapsed into a pocket pc. But technological advances aside, it takes a mindset change to live a simple life - for instance, a handphone is supposed to make your life simpler, but is the person with 10 handphones having it easy? He just complicated his life becoz he doesn't understand how to use technology to simplify his life. So essentially, it's still in the mind.

  4. "What I've asked myself was whether there's any real use to all the hours I spend on making music and art on the computer, blogging, reading blogs, taking far more digital pictures than I have time to view, emailing and IMing with friends and contacts..."

    going off on a tangent, what i see that's good is that i wouldn't be where i am now--heck, i probably never would have met you--if i hadn't started blogging or reading blogs. the digital life has done me a lot of good. it's been very useful =)

  5. Anonymous10:08 am

    2 thoughts:

    1. What is the simple life?

    2. What is in "between" life? After all soon you and I, I may say, will be totally dead. Gone! So this is the only life that you and I will have for sure. We, you and I, have not in between life; this is it, my friend. You and I have this life. Why? Because we have it.

    If you believe in the after life, that is only a belief. That you and I have this life is a darn fact. So, please, do not say in "between":..It is insulting to your own dignity...

    What are you going to do with the breaths that are given to you under the sun. What?

    That is your problem to work on...

    While you think about it, I will drink another glass of wine...

  6. I think you've missed the point entirely, anonymous.


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