Yesterday I was talking with a couple of book editors and writers in the heart of Tokyo. One of them, a writer who helped me author several books, casually mentioned how the advance of the new technologies has made us all busier.
"You know, we get all these e-mails, we search for more information on the web, and we are constantly getting busy. Do you think the advance of technology is a good thing?"
Well, I am certainly have heard it said many times, but my genuine puzzlement is whether the internet and other technologies have really made us "busier".
For sure, the quality and sheer volume of things that you can do within, say, 10 minutes have dramatically improved by the advent of internet. Nowadays, when in a conference, I can simultaneously talk and make notes and search for information and read papers and send and read e-mails and tweet and even ustream on my laptop. Yesterdays, I used to just listen and perhaps draw some doodles on my notebook. That's a fact. However, I wonder if we can say that we have become categorically busier nowadays.
When I was a kid, computers and internet were not here with us. And yet, I was quite occupied, from morning till night. I chased butterflies in the field. I read books, sometimes several in an afternoon. I "invented" various games which I played alone, like the "pachinko ball and pencil" baseball games which I hugely enjoyed playing. I painted in oil, I swam, I played baseball (the real thing), I talked with my friends, with my parents, with passers-by. I dreamed, I sighed, I reached, I stumbled.
I think I was busy even before the internet.
"Never say busy!" I said to the writer. "The internet is not the villain!"
She just smiled enigmatically. Because I did not explain in detail my childhood days, I suspect that she thought I was just being diplomatic there.