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The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection by [Harris, Michael]
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The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection Kindle Edition

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Length: 256 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Product Description

Soon enough, nobody will remember life before the Internet. What does this unavoidable fact mean? Those of us who have lived both with and without the crowded connectivity of online life have a rare opportunity. We can still recognize the difference between Before and After. We catch ourselves idly reaching for our phones at the bus stop. Or we notice how, midconversation, a fumbling friend dives into the perfect recall of Google. In this eloquent and thought-provoking book, Michael Harris argues that amid all the changes we're experiencing, the most interesting is the end of absence-the loss of lack. The daydreaming silences in our lives are filled; the burning solitudes are extinguished. There's no true "free time" when you carry a smartphone. Today's rarest commodity is the chance to be alone with your thoughts. Michael Harris is an award-winning journalist and a contributing editor at Western Living and Vancouvermagazines. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1129 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Current (7 August 2014)
  • Sold by: Penguin US
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #220,034 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.1 out of 5 stars 69 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absence of absence 19 September 2014
By nellie dean - Published on
Verified Purchase
It is very clear that "absence" in human relations is as important to the human mind as presence. So far this has only been written about by psychoanalysts. The mind needs "boredom " and it needs absence to stimulate imagination and,phantasising. A book like this was about the flood of presence by instant communication. I have given copies to friends who never considered this aspect of
cell phones, instant games. The absence of absence, the absence of true original thought.
Innovations are not the same as true genius . Winning an internet game does not involve the many unknown neuronal connection between mind and body. I am a medical doctor who is highly aware of MY "absence" from patients due to the ubiquitous tablet or keyboard, I hope many people read this valuable book ( if they are still capable !)
5.0 out of 5 stars Something to consider - again and again 20 May 2017
By Tita Cupcakedujour - Published on
Verified Purchase
I recommend this book to all of my friends! The changes I've made to my device usage since reading this book have been truly impactful to my personal relationships and outlook on life.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dark Side of Internet Addiction and How to Shake It 13 September 2014
By James G. Dickinson - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an enormously important book, especially for anyone of our declining (pre-Internet) generation who wishes to understand the rising (post-Internet) generations and why they behave and think so differently. Harris, who has attention-deficit disorder not caused by the Internet addiction he analyzes so brilliantly, is non-judgmental about the addiction's effects as he delivers a vital prescription for everyone affected by it -- be aware of the permanent changes it is making in our neural "circuitry" and the value of retaining our humanity through periods of absence from the Internet.
5.0 out of 5 stars Like it or not 23 September 2014
By Jason Blatzheim - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This books raises some very important questions about the internet age and it's intrusion into (read: obliteration) of the real, analog experience of living which will be something that current and future generations will not be able to access or maybe even comprehend. Like it or not, we live in a new way, and Harris does a great job describing the weird, sad, in-between world that those of us old enough to remember the "old world" yet young enough to be fully connected find our selves in.

Recommended for sure.
59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wanted: The Sound (and Practice) of Absence 18 July 2014
By James J. Kane - Published on
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"Soon enough, nobody will remember life before the Internet. What does this unavoidable fact mean?" from chapter 1 This Kills That

I read the majority of Michael Harris' The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection prior to trip with nearly twenty young adults and teenagers to a youth convention of nearly five thousand of them and finished it prior to an eight day vacation which I promised my wife I would refrain from getting on the computer, and thus the Internet, during both events.

I failed as I:

tweeted about the event during the event (and was encouraged to tweet)

dialogued with some people via my cell phone (a non-smart one, by the way) via Facebook private messaging,

and exchanged texts with a colleague about what faced me after my 12 day "absence."

And Harris' words about the lack of absence, -a state in which free time is becoming less and less experienced, were a constant reminder about his fear that the "digital natives" of this age will never experience such absence but instead be consumed by the constant demands of a smart-phone world, - served as a reminder to me of a constant battle that I, as part of what Harris calls the Before generation, the generation who remembers what life was like before the Internet, now fight.

Some might read The End of Absence and consider it a rant by someone who is too introverted or sensitive to handle the new reality of on-line life. Others might read it and think that it is a call to a new kind of digital monasticism. I don't think so either way. Rather I think that Harris argues that intentional absences must become a part of our lives so that absence keeps us in touch with our humanity.

Divided into nine chapters, Harris uses a combination of history as he recounts the changes resulting from the Gutenberg press; current scientific research related to brain waves and malleability of the human brain to adopt to the changes current technology is causing; human resource management as he speaks with motivational speakers about how to keep technology within limits so that personal and corporate productivity is enhanced; literary criticism with the stories of how the democratization of book reviews and other once "elitist" activities are changing how people read and buy books; and the personal stories of how the digital world we now inhabit causes people such Amanda Todd to take her own life while seeking meaningful connection from this same digital world that so abused her. As such, End of Absence is a fast-paced book that weaves throughout these fields while Harris weaves in his own wrestling and journey to unplug from the digital world for one month.

I found the following chapters to challenge my thinking regarding the value and need for absence in order to think, remember, even believe in a larger context than what appears on my phone and computer screens.

Chapter 3 - Confession was thought provoking one as it addreses the issues of acceptance and how our on-line confessions are taking us away from working through "the mysteries of our own existence without reference to the demands of an often ruthless public."

Chapter 5 - Authenticity serves as a reminder that the importance of personal experience is slowly being replaced by a digital life in which "we can maintain confident-if technically less authentic-versions of ourselves."

Chapter 7 - Memory (The Good Error) took me back to Malcolm Gladwell's thoughts on memory in his book Outliers as Harris suggests that "human memory" (compared to digital memory) "was never meant to call up things, after all, but rather explore the richness of exclusion, of absence."

Harris' book serves as a reminder to me and, he hopes (so do I), to others that the need for absence is a critical one in order for us to live a life untethered to our technology. Or, as Harris says,

"Give yourself permission to go without one weekend - without any screens you look at when you are bored... Ask yourself what might come from all those silences you've been filling up."

I think Henry David Thoreau would be pleased.