Mirror of Zen Blog

Solitude and the Messaging Apps

As someone who has always been deeply solitudinous, for as long as I can remember, it still strikes me as particularly odd that, having once made my telephone number known for some reason or another, various different people can use the portal of WhatsApp, or Telegram, or whatever, to send me all sorts of messages and pokes and questions and distractions, straight into my pocket, whatever whim they are feeling. Not replying anything whatsoever is perceived as rude; regarding their message takes time, and – – most tragically of all – – creates distraction, and mindlessness. (In a typical day, there might be up to 10-12 messages that require attention, in addition to the many emails.)

So, from time to time, one must cull the herd. I periodically need to “delist” folks who are particularly demanding of attention for unnecessary purposes. But the only function for creating some silence — for constructing, at least a bare-minimal fence to protect this essential solitude — is “blocking“. Yet it is perceived to be a rude, or even aggressive gesture, on the part of some people. And I can completely understand why.

Yes, it is seldom ever my intent to cut people off in an anti-social or hurtful way. Rather, sometimes this is the only means of protecting one’s solitude in this world of ubiquitous hyper-connectivity, especially as a contemplative who has made the truly damaging decision to try to function out in the world, outside the protective temple walls, bringing this mind technology to others.

My philosophy on this is expressed more perfectly by the immortal soul of Friedrich Nietzsche, who wrote, “My solitude doesn’t depend on the presence or absence of people; on the contrary, I hate who steals my solitude without, in exchange, offering me true company.”

If someone has been, “blocked“ on one of these apps, it is merely for the latter reason in Nietzsche’s quote. Nothing more; nothing less.

Only, in recent days, I have become much more emphatic about protecting this solitude. It seems one needs to constantly have a proactive approach to the matter; otherwise, the incoming never permits more than a few moments of uninterrupted, holistic attention in the flow of the day.

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