Pico Iyer On Unplugging

Originally aired January 17, 2012. Listen to the original broadcast.

Enough with the “always on” digital world. Pico Iyer is unplugging. He’s with us.

Author Pico Iyer. (AP)

Author Pico Iyer. (AP)

We text, we tweet, we carry cell phones like they’re life lines. We check our e-mails, our Facebook pages, our online status six different ways.  And then we start again.  We’ve known for a while now that the digital world – great as it is – could be addictive.  Overwhelming.  An obsession.  A leash.  A prison.

Some people are breaking out.  Letting go.  Staying off.  Travel writer Pico Iyer is one.  He moved cell-phone-free to the boondocks of Japan for a reason.  Better to go slow, go quietly, go off the digital grid.

This hour On Point:  Pico Iyer, and walking away from the “always on” digital world.

–Tom Ashbrook


Pico Iyer, essayist and novelist who wrote the New York Times op-ed “The Joy Of Quiet.” His most recent book is “The Man Within My Head.”

Mizuko Ito, research director for the Digital Media and Learning Hub and professor of anthropology and informatics at the University of California Humanities Research Institute. (@mizuko)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: The Joy Of Quiet — “In barely one generation we’ve moved from exulting in the time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them — often in order to make more time. The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug. Like teenagers, we appear to have gone from knowing nothing about the world to knowing too much all but overnight. ”

Los Angeles Times: The Writing Life: The Point Of The Long And Winding Sentence — “‘Your sentences are so long,’ said a friend who teaches English at a local college, and I could tell she didn’t quite mean it as a compliment. The copy editor who painstakingly went through my most recent book often put yellow dashes on-screen around my multiplying clauses, to ask if I didn’t want to break up my sentences or put less material in every one.”

Salon: No More Vacation: How Technology Is Stealing Our Lives — “Friday before the 4th of July, my friend Sara and I walked to the local pool, talking about work stress, anxiety, difficulty relaxing. We were both struck by how lately, after 15 years of full-time work, we were so unreasonably tired. Why now, we wondered, when we have more experience and self-assurance, when we are amply compensated for our labor at comparatively cushy white-collar jobs, do we feel more spent than when we were strapped entry-level drones, running our tails off to please insatiable bosses?”


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