Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mindfulness and corporate America’s bottom line.

New Republic senior editor Evgeny Morozov writes a piece called “The Mindfulness Racket”. (I have been working on a brain/mind web lecture on the mindfulnesness / attentional / default / upstairs / downstairs themes, but the deluge of articles in these area is beginning to make me feel like I'm carrying coals to Newcastle.) Some edited clips from Morozov's article:
Mindfulness on the cover of Time magazine...Huffington publications’ stress-tracking app named “GPS for the Soul”…”digital sabbath”…”digital detox”…In essence, we are being urged to unplug-for an hour, a day, a week - so that we can resume our usual activities with even more vigor upon returning to the land of distraction..In our maddeningly complex world, where everything is in flux and defies comprehension, the only reasonable attitude is to renounce any efforts at control and adopt a Zen-like attitude of non-domination.
Huffington hopes that the pursuit of mindfulness can finally reconcile spirituality and capitalism…”So yes, I do want to talk about maximizing profits and beating expectations - by emphasizing the notion that what’s good for us as individuals is also good for corporate America’s bottom line”…
But couldn’t the “disconnectionists”…pursue an agenda a tad more radical than “digital detoxification”? Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic complains “Individuals unplugging is not actually an answer to the biggest technological problems of our time just as any individual’s local, organic dietary habits don’t solve global agriculture’s issues.”
…why we disconnect matters: We can continue in today’s mode of treating disconnection as a way to recharge and regain productivity, or we can view it as a way to sabotage the addiction tactics of the acceleration distraction complex that is Silicon Valley. The former approach is reactionary but the latter can lead to emancipation, especially if such acts of refusal give rise to genuine social movements that will make problems of time and attention part of their political agendas - and not just the subject of hand-wringing by the Davos-based spirituality brigades…. We must be mindful of all this mindfulness.

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