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The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection

end of absence

It won’t be long before people fail to remember a world without the internet. Michael Harris explores what that means in his new book The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection.

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In 1998, the writer Linda Stone coined the phrase that perfectly describes the state of most people: “continuous partial attention.” More than welcoming this impoverished state, most of us run toward it.

We are constantly distracted. Pings. Texts. Emails. We’re becoming slaves to devices and perpetual connectivity.

I think that within the mess of changes we’re experiencing, there’s a single difference that we feel most keenly; and it’s also the difference that future generations will find hardest to grasp. That is the end of absence— the loss of lack. The daydreaming silences in our lives are filled; the burning solitudes are extinguished.

Before all memory of those absences is shuttered, though, there is this brief time when we might record what came before. We might do something with those small, barely noticeable instances when we’re reminded of our love for absence. They flash at us amid the rush of our experience and seem to signal: Wait, wasn’t there something . . . ?

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