For years, consumers have been promised a simple, carefree digital future. We could live, work, learn, and play from the comforts of our homes, and have whatever we desire brought to our door with the flick of a finger. Instant communication would bring us together. All this technological convenience would give us more time to focus on what really mattered.
When the pandemic hit, for many, that future transformed into the present almost overnight. But the reviews aren’t great. It turns out that people like leaving the house, instant communication can spread more anger than joy, and convenience seems to take away time rather than giving it to us. Oops.
But as David Sax argues in his new book The Future is Analog, we’ve also had our eyes opened. There is nothing about the future that has to be digital, and embracing the reality of human experience doesn’t mean resisting change. Sax explores work, school, leisure, and more, asking perceptive and pointed questions: what happens to struggling students when they’re not in a classroom? If software is built for productivity, who tends to the social and cultural aspects of our jobs? Can you have religion without community?
For many people, the best parts of quarantine were the least digital ones: baking bread, playing board games, going hiking; using our hands, hugging our children and breathing fresh air. Sax suggests that if we want a healthy future, we need to choose community over convenience and humanity over technology.
David Sax is a writer, reporter, and speaker who specializes in business and culture. His book The Revenge of Analog was a #1 Washington Post bestseller, was selected as one of Michiko Kakutani’s Top Ten books of 2016 for The New York Times, and has been translated into six languages. He is also the author of three other books: Save the Deli, which won a James Beard award, The Soul of an Entrepreneur, and The Tastemakers. He lives in Toronto.
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