Uprooted, Part Four: A Different Storm

Note: I started this series the week of an unusual fall wind storm and am finishing the week of an early winter deep freeze. It's the first time I’ve tried a multi-part series in two years of blogging. It wasn't planned out in advance and evolved as I went along from part to part. Thank you for reading and thinking along.

Seeing a giant maple tree I’d known my whole life snap and fall in the wind storm rattled me. I didn’t think it make sense that something that big and strong could go down so suddenly. My unease was compounded by learning that hundreds of thousands of trees were down and that power outages had surpassed Maine’s historic Ice Storm of ’98. 

What I thought about in Part Two is that wind and trees have been dealing with each other for millions of years; well before humans got in the middle with telephone poles, wire lines, and “property”. Thinking about this wind storm in the context of trees’ 370 million years of existence and survival on the planet made me more objective. Nature has a tidying process. I might have over-reacted in Part One by describing the uprooted trees in my backyard as “crime scenes”. 

Even with perspective and power restored, I still had a lingering sense of vulnerability triggered by the events of this storm. News of uprooted trees and widespread damage reminded me of the news of uprooted businesses, careers, industries and ways of treating one another and being that pervades the headlines, media and feeds. 

Technology fuels the rate and means by which information is communicated. Algorithms increasingly decide what information is communicated. Being surrounded by technology and devices that learn about us and feed us what “we” want and need is altering the landscape in which we live. We share our space with fast-moving, invisible code that affects our behaviors at home; work; on our commutes - almost everywhere. 

The digital “wind” that is blowing through is uprooting how we experience the world around us and one another. 

Its rapidly advancing speed and presence means we are in a perpetual storm of change.

Despite the climate of connectivity, it’s hard to feel grounded - or rooted - when our practice and concept of “reality” is skewed by the incoming we receive. 

I started this blog series with a quote by poet, David Whyte:  

“Vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding undercurrent of our natural state.” 

As the technological revolution continues, I wonder if it’s not just our vulnerability that will be challenged, but our natural state. The digital wind will continue to advance on the borders of our external and internal selves and on the very things that make us human. 

What the intersection of natural and artificial intelligence looks like is anyone’s guess and should be everyone’s debate.