People keep pointing out to me the apparent "irony" of fueling a digital-media resistance movement via the Internet. Many critics of the present environment, like myself, try to be clear that we're not Luddites struggling to destroy the machines. We're just trying to slow them down a bit, perhaps keep them in their circumscribed place instead of letting them creep all over our culture.
In any case, Facebook just might have something to teach us about this nascent concept of slow media. As of press time, the "Slow Media Movement" on Facebook has nine members, including yours truly. Here's a glimpse at their mission statement, which takes aim at multi-tasking and what might be called "distractedness":
"We believe, first and foremost, that listening to music or watching films should be deliberate acts; that the current trend of collecting music and movies in gigantic batches of unrelated and overly compressed digital files is not only changing our methods for interacting with such materials, but is fundamentally changing the materials themselves; that a far better way to enjoy music is in an intentional or deliberate manner where the listener or viewer is relaxed and prepared, rather than solely while on public transit or while engaging in other activities. Does this mean we hate our iPods and iPhones and other media devices? No! It simply means that sometimes media is best enjoyed without dividing your attention between it and other activities."
The "Slowbies--Slow Philosophy" group is doing slightly better, with a membership of 77, though it focuses less explicitly on media. The guy who started this group was inspired by Carl Honore's book "In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed." He also sings to the glory of idleness, though he's specific about not being anti-productivity:
"In this media-drenched, data-rich, channel-surfing, computer-gaming age. we have lost the art of doing nothing, of shutting out the background noise and distractions, of slowing down and simply being alone with our thoughts. Boredom----the word itself hardly existed 150 years ago----is a modern invention. Remove all stimulation, and we fidget, panic and look for something, anything, to do to make use of the time. When did you last see someone just gazing out the window on a train? Everyone is too busy reading the paper, playing video games, listening to iPods, working on the laptop, yammering into mobile phones."
He says that the group is part of a growing global movement against the addiction to speed that's "16 million strong in the UK already." (He also links to a site for the International Institute of Not Doing Much, which claims more than 2000 members and sells t-shirts.) I'll have to look for the basis of that figure... Also, I wonder what the OED has to say about the origins of "boredom."
Then there's my own group, "Facebook, Stop Colonizing My Lifeworld!" My supporters only number in the single digits, too... so far. Maybe the semi-obscure, quasi-elitist Habermas reference is scaring away the masses. Or maybe all these strands of the Slow Media Movement need to be woven together, to present a more unified front, to mix a metaphor.
If you know of any more groups--Facebook or otherwise--plugging Slow Media, please post a comment and let me know!