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In the film you refer to that as “mindful unplugging.” How has it gone over?

It’s been life-changing. I’m not saying that lightly. I kind of rush toward Friday night now. We light the Shabbat candles and cellphones go off. Computers go off. The TV goes off. Nothing is on for twenty-four hours, and it’s amazing—the day feels four times as long. But, on Saturday night, I can’t wait to go back online, and I appreciate the technology in a new way, too.

I highly recommend technology Shabbats. You know, you don’t have to be Jewish to do one!

Connected suggests that being online can help us reconcile our left and right brains, and realize our potential—similar to what your father suggested Leonardo da Vinci had done for himself five hundred years ago. Can you elaborate on that?

Our usage of the internet stimulates both the right and left brain hemispheres—and I think it’s changing the way we think. It’s really causing us to employ many more parts of our mind. I know that personally I’m so exposed to ideas and people, and subjects, and films, and other things that I never would have been exposed to before, just through Twitter and Facebook and the ability to connect with people online.

Even with environmental problems, and globalization, and poverty, and all of these things, we are connecting so many minds on the planet right now. It’s been proven throughout history that innovation happens when people are bumping up against each other with different perspectives. This has usually happened in cities, but now we have this global framework for people to come together. So, our minds are constantly being stretched open, and wider. I feel like the network online is a global mind that I get to tap into: I ask questions on Twitter and Facebook and get hundreds of responses. As I was writing the film I would throw out an idea, and get this instant feedback that was so exciting and immediate and gratifying.

One of Connected’s messages is that connecting deeply is key to our survival as a species. How might we connect deeply online?

I had friends who had adopted a child from Cambodia. They didn’t know anyone else who had done that, but they can go online and connect with all these families that have, and who can share experiences, and lessons, and give advice. That’s a deep connection. I know people who have fallen in love online. That’s another deep connection. Life is all about deep and broad connections. You feel broadly connected to your community. Now, with the internet, I feel a part of so many more communities than I ever did before.

Does this sense of increased connection make you more hopeful?

Yes. When I was younger—and maybe this is part of my being Jewish—I always felt like an outsider on some level. I really don’t anymore. There are so many channels for me to plug into online and in the real world.

When the internet first came about, there was this big concern that it was going to replace everything, that everyone was going to be sitting alone by their computers. And that isn’t the case. I believe we are evolving, and our evolution is to connect even more. Our curiosity and our desire to connect give me hope for the future of the human species. Those two things are what will take us to the next level.

 

To watch the Connected trailer, find out where the film is playing at a city near you or join the conversation, click here.

 

From the November 2011 issue of the Shambhala Sun. Click here to browse the entire issue online.






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