Is the Web Stealing Our Old Souls?

Read about how the web is changing your aging process.

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Boomers are the first aging generation whose networks are actually growing as we age, as we have increased time and access to online communities. The 50+ generation is the linchpin to the highly interconnected life of extended families, on-going friendship groups and outreach to new communities of shared interest.

But I have growing suspicions, based on my own experience and buoyed by some recent books that have crossed my path, that at least some of us have figured out that many of us are having somewhat too much of a good thing. Two books in particular come to mind: What Aging Men Want by John C. Robinson and

The Wonder of Aging

by Michael Gurian.

The point these books make is essentially this: that there are psychological and spiritual benefits to disconnecting from old ways of relating to the world which, one presumes, includes allowing the Internet to call the shots in one’s lives. Continuing to operate in what Robinson refers to as “warrior work mode” may actually prevent you “from facing the developmental tasks and opportunities of aging until much later in life, when you may not have the time, energy, or wisdom to benefit from new experiences and lessons…We will not realize the full potential of age if we refuse to leave the war.”


Michael Gurian cites the Tao Te Ching to make a similar point about the role of disconnecting in the fulfillment of the human potential. “The wise person shuts his senses, closes all doors, dulls his edges, unties all knots, softens his light, renounces the sources of agitation—this is called the attainment of unity with the One…by renouncing desires, one sees the Secret of all life.”

An apocryphal story from the Hindu tradition illustrates the point. As the story goes, Alexander the Great was traveling through India when he saw an old saint sunning himself on the banks of the river.

“How wonderful that looks,” said Alexander. “I wish I could sit there beside you and enjoy the day.”

“Where are you going?” The saint asked.

“I’m going to fight one more battle and then I will return to join you.”

The saint paused a moment, and replied:

“If this is where you want to be in the end, why don’t you just skip the battle and join me now?” Alexander ignored the saint’s advice and never did make it back to enjoy the moment.

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Carol Orsborne
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