Inside the Box
There’s gotta be a nap for that, right? Sorry, we meant “an app” obviously. We’ve spent so much time thinking “outside the box” lately that we’ve gotten a bit disoriented.
So it’s time to get back inside the box for a while, if you know what we mean. No? Sigh. You’ve been out of the box a lot too, it would appear. Hey, we can relate: it’s not easy being an uber-entrepreneurial hyper-creative digital-demigod who’s quick with a quip and smart with the snark. True that!
Before unpacking all of that, however, you might be interested in knowing that the clichéd “outside the box” motif likely draws its origins from more humble beginnings, namely as a litmus test for solving a low-tech puzzle by expanding one’s field of vision beyond the locus of points within the exercise. In other words, it’s a nod to seeing beyond the confines, thinking creatively, going beyond constraints. This is all well and fine in itself, except for the minor hiccup that we may have just moved to a bigger box.
Technology. A much bigger box. Like, a really big box, broken down into millions of portable, personal little boxes. The brilliance of these boxes is that they provide a sense of being perpetually interconnected but with the added virtue of minimizing the exposure of actual interpersonal entanglements. The sense of solipsism puts *you* at the center of things, with circles of affiliation radiating outward like the star you really are — or always knew you could be, and now can be, thanks to that magical sleek box (which you are most definitely still outside of, right?).
Now you’re a trend-setter, an internet brand, a self-marketing guru, a developer’s developer, an empowered coder, maybe even a whiz kid. You’re a creative genius, perhaps, or at least someone capable of building a robust list of followers, visitors, commenters, “friends” and more. Your workplace might be one of those boundary-breaking wall-less bouncy-ball corporate-campus cool-kids places. You are a unicorn, a person of interest, the center of a web of connections, and way way outside the box.
Not so fast. Was our tone a giveaway that something might be amiss with all of this? Yeah, we telegraphed it. [NB: at least the telegraph still took human operators and old-school tech to manage.] We don’t want to drain the joy from our diversions, or suggest that the problem is you/us personally. Yes, one might say (if one was like, a serious bard) that “the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves” — but that sentiment denies the reality and complexity of being homo technologicus, the techno-self.
Today, we don’t have the luxury of being all the way outside the box when it comes to technology. Not only is there no there there in terms of an “outside” to the web, but even if you could find such a place it would mostly amount to a kind of social, political, and economic isolation booth slash echo chamber. So let’s face it: we’re in the box, which — stay with us, now! — can be a useful thing. Rather than trying to always imagine oneself as above it all, ironically detached while incessantly online, way cooler than school, a step ahead of the herd, maybe there’s another way to think about all of this:
Get back inside the box! Take your phone (and other devices) in there and really dig into what makes them tick, what interests you about them, what you can do without, what you gain/lose in using them, where they end and you begin. Delete some apps and take some naps. Swipe left and sit quietly. Think of it like being in one of those signal-jamming “blocker bags” for a while — and when you emerge from the box, consider what’s changed. It’s not exactly the “red pill” of Matrix fame, but it’ll do for now…