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 ON AIR: Reclaiming connection in the Internet of Things with Silas Rose


During Covid 19 how we worked, shoped, did yoga, related with family and searched for a mate moved online. The internet enabled this rapid adaption during a time of crisis, but connectivity doesn’t always equal connection.  As more of life is lived online our perception of the world is being shaped by powerful algorithms in ways that often undermine real relationships and our shared sense of humanity.  In this episode of ON AIR I talk about the transition from analog relationships to the emerging Internet of Things and how mindfulness can help us reclaim  connection in the real world.

Show Notes

To learn more about the influence of social media and the internet on real world relationships check out:

The Social Dilemma – A Netflix documentary on the impact of persuasive technology and social media

The Great Hack – A documentary on  Cambridge Analytica’s use of ‘big data’ collected from millions of unwitting Facebook users to influence the outcome Brexit and 2016 Presidential elections in America.

Q: Into the Storm – an HBO documentary series that explores the online origins of Q Anon, the mother of all conspiracies that lead to the Capitol insurrection in December 2020.

Connected, but alone?  A TED talk by MIT prof Sherry Turkle on how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication.  Also check out her book, Alone Together

Rabbit Hole Podcast by New York Times columnist Kevin Roose on how  algorithms drive behaviour, radicalization and home grown terrorism.

Center for Humane Technology – dedicated to radically reimagining our digital infrastructure and relationship with technology


Show Transcription

Greetings, welcome, dear listener. My name is Silas Rose. And this is another instalment of ON AIR, my version of a fireside chat.

I started Awake in Relationship a year ago and I really feel like I’ve been learning in public since then. If you’ve been listening to the show, you probably noticed that I have a very broad lens when it comes to covering the topic of relationships. There’s a thread of continuity that runs from our intimate personal lives into how we create community and ultimately, how we create a life sustaining culture.

There is so much change happening right now in those three areas, and much of it is really being driven by the influence of our technology, in particular, the internet. During Covid 19  we’ve all come to rely on the internet, social media and other platforms as our primary source of connection with others over these past few months, and somehow I don’t get the sense that this is going to change in the near future. In fact, I think history will remember Covid 19, as the dawning of the Internet of Things.

if you’re not familiar with that term, it basically describes this merging of the physical world and digital world through billions of computers, sensors and cameras.  New 5G technology enables a kind of ubiquitous connectivity, making possible things like driverless cars and ‘smart’ homes, ‘smart’ cities and ‘smart’ energy grids. So on one hand, the internet of things really solves a lot of problems in terms of relating with complexity and efficiency of human systems. However, given the how quickly these changes are coming, there is a real danger of losing something essential to our human experience, namely in the quality connection we have with others and the natural world.

By virtue of my age, I remember life before the internet.  I recently turned 50, which is kind of mind blowing, and perhaps a sure sign of getting older is nostalgia and longing for the past,

When I was growing up in a small town on the east coast of Vancouver Island, I spent most of my time outdoors when I wasn’t in school. I’d leave home in the morning with my friends, head down to the beach or forest or go do some  river fishing. I often didn’t return till sometime in the evening. Kind of unthinkable for any parent these days.

Having had the great fortune of growing up in a beautiful place, a safe place, I got to develop a very secure attachment to nature, which I very much value today. I felt like I also got to understand what freedom meant.

There was very little screen time in those days. My first home computer was a Commodore VIC 20 and gift from my parents, which I was actually kind of disappointed around because most of my friends had a Commodore 64, which had way better graphics and games.

So I was stuck playing Pong on my little VIC 20 and a black and white television, which is actually kind of funny considering the recent news around Elon Musk’s Neuralink monkey. They actually managed to connect a computer to a monkey’s brain and the monkey was able to play Pong using its mind.

Call me old fashioned, but it is these kind of experiments that keep me up at night worrying about the future –  the possibility that the Internet of Things doesn’t just end with the merging of the physical world and the digital world, but it really is about a merging of the digital world and human biology.

In some sense, this merging has already happened. And though it’s not a hardwearing, thanks in part to the massive amount of data that’s been collected on us over the years by big tech companies and social media, corporations are really able to tap into our deepest fears, wants and needs and use this information to manipulate our behaviour in subtle and not so subtle ways. The darker side is really where the algorithms only show us what we want to see, essentially sorting us into filter bubbles, which are highly customized to our individual profile of needs and wants. If you’ve been on YouTube, you’ve probably gone down the rabbit hole a few times, just watching some of the recommended videos in the sidebar. With so much of life being lived online right now, the downside of being fed this curated, personalized virtual experience in our social media feed or Google search is that we are losing a shared sense of reality, and that the algorithms are leading us towards more extreme opinions and views in our society. We see this with the rapid rise of Q Anon and conspiracy theories, and we’ve seen the same extreme views go offline, with the Capitol insurrection in December.

So it’s pretty clear to me at this point that the internet and associated technologies are not benign, and are in fact, fundamentally altering our perception of the world and each other in not so beneficial ways.

I don’t think it’s possible at this point to put the genie back in the bottle and I am by no means anti technology or a Luddite. However, I’m deeply concerned about how we maintain our sense of humanity as the Internet of Things  develops and grows.

I’m believe this is the razor’s edge, in terms of our spiritual practice or discipline; how to bring more mindfulness to how we relate to our technology, and ultimately, how we prioritize the real world relationships that most.

I’m planning to explore this topic in greater depth, through future episodes of the podcast, and also in a program I’m developing for the fall of 2021 with some guests called Going Offline, where we’ll explore some of the mindfulness based tools for reclaiming energy, time and focus for real world relationships.

I am planning to launch with a small test group, if you’re interested in joining me  please reach out, send me a message. In general I appreciate any feedback or recommendations for this program. In the next few weeks I’ll put more information on awakeinrelationship.com as well as a form so people can add their email and be notified when the group opens up.

As always, I really appreciate any suggestions for future episodes. If you have been tuning in and found value in the show I would really appreciate you taking a moment to leave a quick review on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher, wherever you listen to podcasts, itand really helps me to grow the show.

So friends thanks again for listening to this episode and hope you’re staying strong in these uncertain times and doing when you need to do to stay well and connected.

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of awake in relationship. If you liked what you heard, please click subscribe to get the latest show delivered fresh to your device or sign up for our newsletter at awake in relationship.com. Sharing is caring

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