How long has it been since you checked your email? Sent a text? Left your house without your phone?

We live in a connected society, but what does that mean for the quiet, reflective times? In his book, The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection, Michael Harris points out that for anyone born in the 1980s or earlier, we are part of the last generation to know life both before and after the internet. We lived in a time where the phone hung on the wall in the kitchen, and we only answered it if we were home, research was done at the library going through books, and communication was not instant. Harris ponders what we are losing and whether we realize that we are losing it, going on to think about the younger generations that do not know a disconnected life, that is, a life without instant access to the internet and other electronic communications.

Toward the end of the book Harris spends a month “disconnected” ultimately concluding that it is virtually impossible to be disconnected in today’s world where everyone else is bound by technology, but he also realizes that it is up to the individuals to manage their connections so that they can have those quiet, meaningful times. By balancing the use of technology, he posits, the individual will be more effective overall.

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