Monday, January 3, 2011

L’arte di non fare niente

L’arte di non fare niente: the art of doing nothing.

I first heard this expression in Eat, Love, Pray, and it really resonated. I am hyper-connected for better or for worse, and multitask with the best of them. The iPhone and iPad, in particular, make it possible to watch TV, respond to emails, follow the news, FB (yes, it is now a verb), and play Angry Birds all at the same time. I can't say that this is actually good for my brain and I wonder how perpetual hyperactivity affects my emotions and response mechanisms.

I noticed towards the end of 2010 that I had become increasingly agitated, and so I used the Holiday break to throttle back my social media interaction, email and other forms of electronic communication. I will admit I raised my Angry Birds score over 16 million, and I watched the most football ever, but much of my time was spent vegging and just enjoying my kids. I was very unproductive, but it was one of the most relaxing breaks I've had and my batteries are certainly recharged.

I think certain cultures lend themselves more easily to l’arte di non fare niente, especially those that originated in warm climates where midday inactivity is necessary to survive or at least remain productive. Like ethnic cultures, organizational cultures develop in response to their environments and create corresponding survival habits. Perhaps its time to examine the habits we are fostering in a Web 2.0 world and ask ourselves if we are spending enough time (if any) disconnecting from electronic communication and social media. It might be prescriptive to sometimes just experience life rather than share every moment of it. And it might be good for your soul. 

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