Nobody calls me a Luddite anymore, but I still maintain the same caution toward the mediated world I’ve held since the 80’s when I hosted the first TV Awareness events at my school. How much more screens have come to dominate our lives since that now-innocent time! We all benefit from some of it (the opportunity for me to write this blog!), but we also need more healthy doses of life off-screen and an intelligence that recognizes gifts and limitations and the need for balance. I still cringe when I hear people say “there’s an ap for everything” and “anything you want is online.” How small have people’s desires become that they think all they need can be electronically delivered! I’ve looked, but I can’t find anything that lets my hand feel the vibrations on the back of my recently departed Mom when she spoke.
And while everyone is scrambling to the Online Universities and looking for how to transmit their limited concept of knowledge to people far away, there are simply some things untransmitable in virtual reality— they require visceral reality. They need the warmth and sweat of living human hands held in circles, the touch of the teacher, the taste of the snacks at break time and the real time physical vibrations of voices and instruments charging the air and our own nervous system. The Orff approach that has shaped my life is one such tradition and though some in my world have drunk the electronic Kool Aid and are looking to bring it all online— or bring the Smart-Board on-lineness into their classrooms— most (I hope) realize that our physical bodies, beating hearts and inquisitive minds are now and forever where the whole show takes place.
Why are we in such a hurry to live in the i-Cloud? According to one tradition, we’ll have all eternity to float around up there. Let’s get our hands dirty down here while we can, celebrate this body and the bodies of our fellow humans and the body of this earth. Get wet, get muddy, get cold, get sweaty, get smelly, get washed clean, get moving in the dance, get singing, pleasure in the earthy boom of the drum and watery sounds of metallophones and airy stream of fluted breaths, all without plugging in a single cord.
Especially with the little ones. Later, the teens will need electric guitars to scream louder their painful passage to adulthood, the singers will want mikes when the jazz band is blaring behind them, the inspired moments captured on video will be fun to see on Youtube and yes, spread the good news far and wide.
But amidst it all, let’s remember the importance and pleasures of visceral reality, of life unplugged.