What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
So true. So very true. Yet, I wonder if this saying’s relevance is diminishing in an increasingly digital world? Does what you say become “what you do”–irrespective of action–in a world of words? Certainly actions are as important as ever, perhaps more so, but its seems that words are “actions” in the digital space.
Sometimes, when I think of our digital evolution, I long for simpler times. (Don’t confuse that with my longing for simpler thinking: Evolution of thought is both desirable and inevitable.) I like thinking of times when interpersonal interaction ruled the day. When getting together was an offline priority. When people watchers aimed at a town square, not a square screen. When reaching out and touching someone was a physical occurrence. When action and inaction were easily detectable and discernible.
I’d mourn the loss of instant information, “effortless” connection, and endless entertainment among others. Or would I? Perhaps I’d simply view and seek out these things in a different way. Maybe I’d once again haunt the library. Maybe I’d make more of an effort to engage and connect with familiar and non-familiar others. Maybe I’d put more thought into how and why–not to mention with what–I entertain myself. Maybe I wouldn’t.
All I know is that I perceive the rise of the digital age as the fall–or redefinition–of the “personal age.” I see people becoming increasingly detached from themselves and each other. I see equal parts information and misinformation fueling ideation for better and worse. I see a world of reaction based largely on disconnected and impersonal interaction.
Surely we are masters of our own evolution. Or are we? I don’t know all the answers even if I like to question. Sometimes I like being an internet-empowered know-it-all. Sometimes I like disconnected connection. Sometimes I like mindless entertainment. Sometimes I don’t. Whatever the case, we all know the difference between actions and words. My hope is that we are responsible and respectful enough to match our actions with our words. Further, that we make the most of both for the betterment of ourselves and others irrespective of our differences.