Monday, February 25, 2013

You (yes YOU) are in a box

I tell my students: you are in a box.  You came from another box this morning, and rode to this box in a smaller box-on-wheels.  But the world, the universe is OUTSIDE the box!  If you spend all your time in boxes, you're missing it!

Before this century, most of us had a more intimate, if usually prosaic, familiarity with the great outdoors.  Doris Kearns Goodwin, in her book on Abraham Lincoln, reports that among the presidential contenders for the 1860 election, Seward loved to spend time in the gardens around his New York mansion, and then discuss their progress around the breakfast table and in his journal.  Lincoln, from the other end of the economic spectrum, and after a youth spent in unending toil for his ne'er-do-well father on frontier farms, had no use for gardens or plantings around his home in Springfield.  However, I have no doubt Lincoln knew where the sun rose and set.
What has changed?
The consumer electronics revolution, that began late last century and seems still to be accelerating, bears some part of the blame.  Another share is belongs to media-generated fear.  More of which later.