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Shouting in the dark

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Anticipating what for many will be a week of holiday between Christmas and New Years, of family togetherness and gifting and bunchy sweaters and eggnog, you may be experiencing some mild anxiety.

I am. Being together so much can be intense, especially these days as we're collectively losing muscle mass for genuine human interaction.

Clinging to our devices and checking our status with habit-forming frequency, we’re interacting – but not connecting.

To my fellow brand-builders and career-carvers out there, social media gurus, coaches and marketers like Danny Brown advise: create and share killer content every day, track your impacts, and stay on top of what’s new, hot, happening and relevant.

Sound advice, but also a one-way ticket to what Alexis Madrigal calls “the Stream,” an exhausting, soul-sucking place that’s widening a cavity in human consciousness and eroding our capacity to be present.

Online life has become a lot of shouting in the dark. We type something, click to share it, and then commence compulsive refreshing in hopes that someone (if we’re honest, we don’t really care who) acknowledges it.

We want to talk to the whole world and end up talking to no one. Headphones in, heads down (or eclipsed by our built-in cameras), we’re fraying our own social fabric. As Sherry Turkle brilliantly described in the Times, we're too busy documenting our lives to lift our gaze and meet each other’s eye.

Feasting on a diet of empty calories, we're actually starving for something else. Something real.

Food is real, and a vehicle by which our need for human connection may be realized, as renewed interest in whole (unprocessed) foods, farming, cooking and the sharing of meals reflects. This week’s passing of Article 89 tills the soil for more and more face-to-face, hands in the soil food activity across the City of Boston in 2014.

So: this holiday season, take a deep breath or two, stash your hardware in the drawer or under the bed, and try to exercise your muscles for just being where you are, in the flesh and hashtag free.

You may feel agitated at first. Your fingers may wiggle in withdrawl. But eventually, you’ll feel better, more connected - and rested, which is critically important too.



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