Read some potent Chesterton this weekend, as well as "Hamlet's Blackberry" and then heard a remarkable speech from the Chesterton Conference on CD by a "futurist".
Chesterton and Mr. Futurist want us to be more outward, while Mr. Hamlet Blackberry wants us to be more inward. The difference couldn't be more vivid, such that Chesterton thought it so wrong that someone would listen to music via reproduction rather than attending a concert hall and Mr. Blackberry approves the invention of iPods, saying that it takes a previously public event (music) and makes it inward, just as reading became a private event with the introduction of silent reading around Augustine's time. The case for inwardness is that it is what creates time to think, to mull over, to acquire depth. He says that we are too outward-focussed, too shallow-thinking. Chesterton and Futurist applaud human interaction, the more tactile the better. (Mr. Futurist said the thing we touch the most during the day is a keypad, and keypads don't touch back.) Chesterton made some very interesting points about the Triune God and how the difference between the East and the West is symbolized by the wide-eyed saints (outward-looking) of the West compared to the closed-eye Eastern Buddhas (inward). The East gave us hermitages, the West monasteries such that even the Trappists are brotherly in their silence.
Futurist said many of us are suffering from distraction and A.D.O.S - "Attention deficit OH, SHINY!"
Mr. Blackberry says that we're too connected now and that's why we're so thirsty for inventions that are inward (such as the iPod). But is it a reaction to the environment that is too outward or is it something else? Writing is a semi-inward activity, at least it was for Seneca (who complained about too many books and so wrote letters).