Fascinating article by a friend of my dear brother, Carl S.
With the proliferation of training courses espousing the benefits of yoga and meditation, critics have coined the term “McMindfulness” to describe a cottage industry whose profit motives appear to contradict the ethical foundations of the practices it appropriates. From a Buddhist standpoint, mindfulness is not a mere stress-reduction technique: it is a “distinct quality of attention” with transformative social potential. Paradoxically, mindfulness programs are commonplace in companies that depend on advertising – an industry that manipulates attention to enhance revenues, often at the expense of economic justice. Digital technologies enable more efficient techniques, and experts even encourage marketers to “design for interruption.” Facebook, iPhones, and Google Glass exemplify such strategies. As Nicholas Carr argues, “Google is, quite literally, in the business of distraction.”1
The paradox of corporate mindfulness is an outgrowth of the process of externalization in market capitalism. Silicon Valley companies create “integrity bubbles” that allow employees to reap the benefits of mindfulness while externalizing the problems of fragmentation and distraction. The resolution of this tension would mean the reconfiguration of the digital economy as we know it, in the spirit of what Jaron Lanier calls “a new digital humanism.” This goal requires a more holistic approach to the politics of mindfulness that examines both personal and civic mindfulness, the latter of which includes a contemplative approach to critical media studies and the revitalization of journalism as a public good.
- Jaron Lanier: We’re Being Enslaved by Free Information (spectrum.ieee.org)
- 4 Ways to Avoid Social Media Fatigue (suzemuse.com)