The unbearable lightness of being

I enjoyed the film but never quite understood why the lightness of being was unbearable.
I thought the male character was unbearably lightweight but I am not sure that this what the author meant by the title.

Then, with an early morning storm that roared across the rooftops like a runaway train, I awoke to the thought that the lightness of being is a global malaise which is becoming unbearable for many.

More and more of our time is taken up with online networking, social networks and chat rooms. We gather friends like pebbles on a beach. Four thousand friends? Who has the time for four thousand friends, four friends perhaps but four thousand? These are not friends; these are passers-by in the parade of life with whom we share the sweet crumbs of our lives.

We are attracted to photographs and sound bites; we flirt in chat rooms, fall in love over the airwaves and then try to conduct love affairs with sms and telephone conversations. In doing this we send and receive half understood messages into which we read our own fantasies and desires. With online friends we twitter, tweet, sms and skype our way through one sentence conversations in which the reality is never touched. As paid-up members of the ‘fun generation’ we share only the smiley happy moments, the achievement moments, the cool hip and happening moments. But we never share the reality that for most of our lives we live in the quiet moments, the 3am panic moments, the in-between moments, the slightly sad and lonely moments. But who wants to know, who cares and in the flood of one-liners who has the time?

I think the lightness of being of the ‘fun generation’ is becoming unbearable because we forget that in the digital world our sense of smell, of touch, our aura, a subtle change of tone, a shared glance and the moments of instant unspoken understanding can only discovered when a person is with you in the flesh. But in our insane need to be always in touch we have dragged our fleeting online form of communication into our real lives. We are never fully connected to each other, but always fully connected to the web. The conversations we have with the friends across the table are never interesting enough to stop us from interrupting them with conversations from across the airwaves. We live forever in the hope of finding, doing, hearing something better and more exciting. Like children at a funfair, we run from ride to ride chasing new thrills and never have the time to sit down and really connect.

The internet and the social networking sites have become a sad stand-in for the dinner table or older still, the camp fire around which, through slow conversations and long silences, we used to gather meaningful insights into our friends and fellow man.
It seems to me we are trying to keep the camp fire burning by feeding it with twigs and grass straws which, like the tiny details of our lives, we keep throwing into the flames and watch as they vanish without creating any light or warmth. We are becoming lightweight fluffy people who no longer have the emotional strength to chop through the undergrowth to find the giant log that will keep the campfire burning all night and which will still be around to heat the coffee in the grey chill of morning.

Ultimately the unbearable lightness of being lies in the fact that this form of interaction is most suited to the fluffy people of the world who with their great talent for meaningless chatter are leading society in a merry dance of glitter balls and candy floss. We never delve deeply into each others minds. Never take the time to explore another reality. I think each of our minds is universe of possibilities and through our lightness of being we are exploring those universes by using bottle tops instead of the finest telescope.

I think that just like the slow food revolution was a reaction to fast food, the world is ready for a deep thought, long talk revolution in response to all the shallow chatter.

All paintings, writing, designs, photographs and concepts on this site

copyright ©Annette Jahnel 1996-2010

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