baked byWilson Miner
Technology in its nature is subject to decay. We haven’t advanced beyond bit rot.
Technology in its nature is subject to instability. We haven’t advanced beyond bugs.
Technology in its nature is subject to failure. We haven’t advanced beyond obsolescence.
All the technology I use and depend on will change and disappear.
These are crass paraphrases of some of the “Five Daily Recollections” from the teachings of Buddhism. Based on my shallow understanding, contemplating these facts is meant to lead us to abandon our “destructive attachments” to our illusions about the way the world should be, and more peacefully exist in the world the way it is.
I don’t mean to be disrespectful by repurposing them here (“Top 5 Ways To Achieve Technological Zen!”), just to point to the obvious but sometimes invisible fact that what is true of our lives is also true of our digital lives.
Recently, a snippet from David Foster Wallace’s commencement address to Kenyon College in 2005 has been recirculating in a video called “This is Water”. If you never had a chance to read or hear the original, you owe it to yourself to at least watch the video.
He starts with a story:
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
In his singular, electric, messy human way, he digs away at the same “capital-T Truth” that the Five Recollections are getting at. That we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over of what is hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time.
The fifth and final recollection is different from the rest. No adaptation necessary.
“I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, and supported by my actions. Whatever actions I take, good or bad, that is my inheritance.”
We can’t change the nature of technology, but we choose what we do with it. Day in, day out, each action is a choice. Every click, every tap, every line of code is another drop in the water we swim in every day. “This is water.” That is our inheritance.