The Age of Acceleration.

A new book is out worth a trip to the library. It is Thomas L. Friedman’s newest book, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations. The book recognizes the fact that as we depend more and more on technology for every kind of interface with others and the active world, we grow lonelier and our interactions have less value.

The best way to review the book is to watch a video interview by Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson.[1]

The issue addressed in Friedman’s book centers on the explosion of technical capacity in 2006-2008. It is the time of the iPhone, the tablet, the cloud, big data, a dozen processing platforms that accelerate transaction speeds off the charts. Then it was 2008. Without warning, people lost jobs, homes, and whole lifetimes of savings. It was a double whammy which left our culture overwhelmed with isolation, defeat and loneliness. Friedman focuses on the battlefront that will exist in our culture for the next couple of decades: those who want to build walls against the hurricane of change and those who want to learn how to live in the eye of the hurricane.

Part of living in the eye is to associate again with people in groups and activities that are socializing in nature and help develop empathetic skills. As an example, Tom mentions a new, rapidly growing business that sponsors paint-by-number painting in bars. Our society yearns for the camaraderie that existed fifty years ago. We are squeezed dry by faster and faster transactions in everyday living.

Tom often is seen on Global Public Square, Fareed Zakaria’s Sunday show on CNN. He is an eclectic writer who easily crosses from one segment of society to another and has won three Pulitzers.

This is another critical read similar to Eric Metaxas’s book, If You can Keep it, which discusses the lost spirit of our nation.

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Each of these books reminds us that history moves at blurring speeds today. Even as an athlete trains constantly to keep his place in his sport, so we must constantly train to stay in Tom Friedman’s eye of the hurricane. Life will not be successful without constantly learning about new ideas, different life situations, even constantly preparing to keep one’s work skills current – at any age.

New cycles of careers and life patterns no longer move along generational lifetimes. They move in months or a few years; waiting while we plod along through kindergarten to college will leave us behind, falling into the hurricane. It is a new lesson we must learn – even to learn again how important empathy is to a happy, healthy life.

Ancient Mariner

[1] See https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/thomas-friedman-human-interaction-digital-age/ .

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