Design for Life: Real Time

Experiencing the world through television and the Internet is like trying to play piano in mittens. Take off the gloves and get to know your world.

| November/December 2010

hands playing a piano

Experiencing the world through television and the Internet is like trying to play piano in mittens.

Would you rather eat a fresh, juicy peach or canned peaches? Share dinner with close friends, or send them an e-mail? Kiss someone, or watch people kissing on TV? The answers seem obvious—we usually prefer rich sensory pleasures to indirect experiences. Yet in the name of expedience, our lives are becoming increasingly indirect. We listen to digital music, eat meals of unknown origin, buy products online that were made halfway around the world, and interact via e-mail, texts and social networking websites. How much of your time is spent in direct living—having experiences that aren’t abstracted or distanced by technology?

My life has a fair amount of indirectness. I interact by e-mail and on Facebook and spend most of my day indoors, usually at the computer. I often use credit cards and sometimes shop online. I drive for errands and activities outside my neighborhood. I sometimes patronize national chain stores.

In other areas, my life is increasingly direct. I spend time in the garden, get together with friends, shop at the farmer’s market and usually cook at home. I patronize local businesses and craftspeople when I can. I don’t own a TV, and I don’t play computer games or send text messages often.

I want even more direct living. My body needs to move more; I want to see and touch my friends more; I want to grow more food and use less fossil fuel; and I want to support my local economy and know the origins of things I buy.

Indirection's Costs 

Beth Meredith and Eric Storm meet a lot of less-than-satisfied people through their consulting business, Create the Good Life. “Most people who come to us are looking for better connections and more creativity in their lives,” Meredith says. “These are itches our indirect culture doesn’t scratch.”

elderberry, echinacea, bee hive


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