Our Lives Are So Virtual

Food for Thought

Giselle has a farm in Trinidad @onefamilyfarm where visitors can help in exchange for accommodation. My wife went this summer for a week. Giselle is in New York this week and, last night, she cooked up a storm for a bunch of her friends. She is a great cook, and one thing she does that seems almost magical is how she can delegate the tasks to random people and somehow coordinate them to deliver a wide range of dishes simultaneously. When I cook, I can’t manage other people, and I can only cook one dish at a time. What Giselle has is beyond the knowledge of how to cook.

I’m intrigued by the idea of going to her farm in Trinidad even though I’m not a nature person. The idea of going upstate to walk in the woods or of lying around on the beach bores me. What Giselle’s farm could potentially teach us is not nature or culture but the integration of the two. Her friends and families farm for themselves. It’s not like the apple farmers upstate New York; Giselle’s people live on the produce they grow. What interests me is this direct relationship between their daily work and the impact it makes on their own lives.

I spend most of my waking hours staring at my computer. I know that my products have some value for my clients only because I get paid for them. I rarely see their impact firsthand, and even if I do see them, I wouldn’t know how it impacts the rest of the world and in turn, affects me. It’s like a big black box—I put something in it, and money comes out in varying amount. Beyond that, I don’t know how it works.

But this disconnect, I suspect, has consequences. No matter how many YouTube videos about swimming we watch, they cannot train all the necessary parts of ourselves that allow us to swim. When we simulate selective aspects of an experience, what the different parts of ourselves (eyes, nose, mouth, voice, arms, legs, ears, emotions, intelligence, muscle memories, etc..) learn from it has no cohesion. Simulated or mediated experiences do not come in a package that allows us to relate to the real world. This, I believe, is the difference between knowledge and insight. The latter is achieved by connecting knowledge with the real world.