On Bubble Cars and Recalibrating Reality
My attachment and interaction with a handheld device shapes my own little ‘bubble car’, insulating, and isolating me. Like a sci-fi, high-tech device, it pops out and over me, this plastic bubble on wheels.
(When Pokémon Go launched a whole population outside – it was a veritable traffic jam of bubble car drivers.)
This little vehicle takes me places, but not necessarily places I want to go.
For example, anger. Moral outrage can be like a hyper-energy drink; it has great potential to stir me into actual action. But within the confines of my tech-induced bubble, it spirals out of control into road rage, twisting my understanding, where folks in ‘the other camp’ are the mortal enemy.
Another example is disconnection. George Monbiot has an epic-level warning about this in his article ‘Screened Out’ (Guardian, 1st March 2017):
“For some of those immersed in virtual worlds, everything loses its meaning – even racism and fascism.
Everything is possible. Nothing is possible. Nothing hurts any more, until the consequences crash through the screen. Immersed almost permanently in virtual worlds, we cannot check what we are told against tangible reality. Is it any wonder that we live in a post-truth era, when we are bereft of experience?
It is no longer rare to meet adults who have never swum except in a swimming pool, never slept except in a building, never run a mile or climbed a mountain, have never been stung by a bee or a wasp, broken a bone or needed stitches. Without a visceral knowledge of what it is to be hurt and healed, exhausted and resolute, freezing and ecstatic, we lose our reference points. We are separated from the world by a layer of glass. Climate change, distant wars, the erosion of democracy, the resurgence of fascism – in our temperature-controlled enclosures, all can be reduced to abstractions…
Once people retreat into the land behind the headset, in which they can no longer even see or hear what surrounds them, they are likely to become still less connected with the real world…
In a fiendishly complex world, the only hope we have of assessing competing claims is often to draw on our own experience. Without experience, we are lost…
This is about what it is to be human, what it is to lose that essential element of our existence: our contact with the real world. The political, social and environmental consequences are currently beyond reckoning.”
Lord, help us reconnect!
And it starts with the simplest of things…
When we put down our devices, there’s a refocusing that takes place. Like putting on reading glasses, the letters jump back into focus. It’s also a recalibrating, re-kaleidescoping phenomenon. First our senses – sight and hearing literally re-focus. But it also involves our minds and the awareness of everything around us.
We’re opening up the hatch of our bubble cars and stepping out into the fresh air.
As the Proverbial Policeman would say:
“Sir, Ma’am, drop what you’re holding, step away from the car, exhale in this bag, and show me you can still walk in a straight line.”