Digitally disembodied

You are reading this on the Internet, so you have probably developed some level of digitally-enabled “ambient awareness” – a constantly-updated sense of what’s happening near and far. The Internet can extend our senses around the world, even if it’s just getting the latest snaps from family and friends. In an excellent article in the New York Times, Clive Thompson talked about the cumulative effect of social media updates: “the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives.” That’s the upside. The downside is that constantly looking at screens can cut you off…

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Yeah yeah yeah, but…”

In the early Noughties, when I lived near Amsterdam, I used to take part in a coaching group. I didn’t much like the guy who ran it, and I wasn’t crazy about the other people either. But I had a sense it was worth the trouble, so I regularly made the half-hour drive. One day it was my turn in the hot seat and somebody gave me some feedback. I started answering back immediately. Before I could say more than a few words, the leader held up his hand, palm towards me, and said simply “technische afhandeling” (technical processing). In…

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