Last week we went to see a screening of the supremely talented Tiffany Schlain’s Sundance Award-Winning documentary Connected~An Autoblography About Love, Death and Technology. Tiffany’s film is a rich, unusual, and pretty unique mix, combining personal biography (or blogography as she calls it) documenting the challenging journey as her brilliant father—Dr. Leonard Schlain—and her family learn to cope with the diagnosis of his brain cancer, together with Tiffany’s own personal struggle to get pregnant with a second child in her late thirties, and a big-picture journalistic inquiry into the interconnectedness of humankind, on a biological, metaphysical and technological level. Phew! She certainly doesn’t do things by halves! My kinda girl.
Interestingly, all the subjects this film explores are close to my heart. Firstly, I have always been fascinated with technology and am currently writing a series of books that specifically relate to our increasing addiction to it. Secondly, because death and the impact of losing a loved one has been of great personal interest since my own Mom died 16 years ago, and was the subject of my last book Your Legacy of Love: Realize the Gift in Goodbye. Tiffany’s film is also about love. Perhaps my favorite topic of all. And finally, Connected highlights our interdependence rather than our independence, a message I’ve been aligned with since I was a little girl. I never did understand the concept of Nationalism, I always saw myself as a part of the World, a part of the human race. I couldn’t understand the idea of “borders” and fighting for territory either. Surely, we (the human race) had a set amount of land, water, clean air to share and utilize fairly for our survival?
But for the purpose of this article I want to focus on the technology aspect of Connected. The film highlights the fact that the advent of the internet has increased our awareness of the fact that we, and everything on planet earth—from the bees to the polar bears— are interdependent. Yet, somewhere along the way, as we moved into more left-brain thinking, mankind began to take the position of superiority to nature, developing a belief that we were separate to the whole, and since then we’ve been negatively impacting the earth, each other, our environment, other species, even our air, water and food supplies. Oops!
The good news is that technology is helping us overcome this temporary amnesia. Now, when something hits, a natural or manmade disaster, such as the Deep Water Horizon oil spill, the news travels at light-speed around the globe, and we are all able to see how this effects our eco-system, not only on the shores of Louisiana and Florida, but the food chain in the Atlantic ocean, and even our air quality as far a field as Los Angeles. As the saying goes: “When a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world it can cause a hurricane in another part of the world.” ~ Author unknown.
The day after watching Connected I happened to be standing in the Apple store waiting at the Genius bar to get my drowned iPhone repaired, or replaced. The store was buzzing. As I surveyed the minimalist, high-tech retail space I noticed the wonderful array of Apple consumers. The store was brimming with people of multiple ethnicity, seniors, dogs, children, teenagers, middle aged men and women, dudes with piercings and pink hair, men in loafers, trainers, sneakers, Doctor Martins, there was a blind Apple employee with his Guide dog giving advice on iPhones, and a little old lady inquiring about an iPad for her son. As I observed this melee my heart smiled. What a wonderful representation of the evolution of human consciousness and the progress we’ve made thanks to technology, especially Steve Jobs, R.I.P. The coming together of this conglomeration of humanity is something to celebrate. As little as 50 years ago, even less in some areas, many of the customers would have been banned!
However, modern-technology is a double edged sword.
As Tiffany confesses in the film, she is guilty of faking a trip to the bathroom after jonesing to check her iPhone for emails and texts, even during lunch with a friend she hasn’t seen for years! She wonders how we are all coping with this light-speed evolution in technology and communications. Well, if you look at the increasing number of journalists reporting on Digital Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) or Internet Addiction Disorder, not to mention Cyber Porn Addiction, and World of Warcraft, the answer is clearly, not so well!
And a new Children’s book which parodies our reliance on this high-tech world, written by Ann Droyd (surely a pen name Android?!) does a great job of illustrating how we are drowning in equipment, you can catch it here.
Yet it seems there are still more pro’s than con’s. And Connected, which I highly recommend you go and see, does a great job of documenting them. But the film’s real message is about our increasing consciousness around the fact that we are not independent of each other; we are totally interdependent. Connected is enlightening, thought-provoking, visually brilliant, inspiring and entertaining, it’s a moving story, and one that is simultaneously personal and universal. You can watch the trailer right here. Or head over to the Connected Facebook page and show them some love!