Finding Our Work in Finding Each Other

My profuse apologies, CJ, but the technology doesn't mean diddly squatiferousness if/when the people wielding it are lost.

No apologies are needed. What you write is true. Technology is an extension of man. When man goes awry, technology goes awry with it. And what a wealth of examples of that happening. Even the past five years has given us enough to shudder at.

But if man is indeed wayward, neither angel nor beast as Pascal would write, then there are times when technology appeals to the better angels of our nature. One wonders whether some of those moments were more accident than anything, but they do happen.

Interactions like this – your response making me think deeply about what I wrote and wanting to write a thoughtful response to what you wrote in return – make me cautiously optimistic. Because what we are doing is not on some “disrupting the entire industry and augmenting human intellect” startup level. We simply communicate. To foster that seems worthwhile.

And while I hear Thoreau through the grave, yammering about how Maine has nothing important to tell Texas, I choose not to listen. We are not Maine nor Texas. We are humans. You type to me. I type to you. And lost as we may be, sharing in this conversation breaks through the anomie. I am not writing into the void here. Someone acknowledges my writing and writes back. I choose to acknowledge them and the reciprocity continues.

There is something beautiful in that exchange. The same web that powers targeted ads and hate groups also powered this instance of connection. Accidental? Maybe. But I wonder if these small moments of shared humanity can be nurtured. Perhaps that is our work.

The farmer-writer Wendell Berry has always been a tonic to me. He wrote about the dilemma of “finding yourself” in an essay titled “The Body and the Earth”. His poignance to being lost seems a fitting end to my rambling:

Treatment, it might be thought, would logically consist in the restoration of these connections: the lost identity would find itself by recognizing physical landmarks, by connecting itself responsibly to practical circumstances; it would learn to stay put in the body to which it belongs and in the place to which preference or history or accident has brought it; it would, in short, find itself in finding its work.