Tuesday, 15 June 2010

On Bi-location

Have you ever been in a room with someone who was on the phone or IM chat who, for all that they were completely oblivious to the goings on around them, may as well have not actually been there?

How about the person walking down the street glued to their mobile who seem to have no consciousness that they are in fact walking down a street as evidenced by their plowing through or into fellow pedestrians?

These people annoy me. A lot.

But let's bring it inward, shall we? How many times have you been on the phone or computer, and either missed something that was said to you in the room or missed what was said to you on the phone/computer because something happened in the room?

I suppose I'm extra harsh on such people since I place a great deal of importance upon mindfulness both of one's surroundings and of one's self. We can't all be Jedi, I know, but I'd love for people to not bang into other people on the street because they're on the phone.

Then something occurred to me yesterday. Mobile phones, internet chat... it's essentially technologically-facilitated bi-location. It gives the user the ability, virtually at least, to be in a place other than where they are at the moment in order to communicate with someone else. Try to explain this to someone from a pre-communications tech society, and they'll probably end up thinking about it in this way or some way like it.

If records are to be believed, there have only ever been a small handful of people who ever achieved actual bi-location. They are Saints, Yogis, Shamans, and other holy men/women and magical-type folk. These abilities allegedly came from years of intensive training and discipline and was only used in very rare circumstances.

And if the above definition stands, we do this often multiple times a day. And the number of us that are highly attained Saints and Yogis are vastly outnumbered by those who are not.

No wonder we're having trouble coping! Humans aren't naturally wired to be accustomed to being in two places at once. So what happens? One of the two location gets shunted to the back. If this is the virtual other location, we miss that phone number being dictated to us because someone we knew just waved as they walked by. If it's our physical location, we turn into the Juggernaut on the high street taking out oncoming foot traffic as we go.

So we're not being inconsiderate. We're just being really crap shamans.

So either we become better shamans, or we quit playing with shamans' tools.

The choice is yours.