Friedman: Six More Months Until Spam Kills Civilization


Thomas Friedman pens the ideal Friedman lede:

The best part of this job is being able to step outside of your routine and occasionally look at the world through a completely different lens. The Peruvian Amazon rainforest is such a lens, and looking at the world through this dense jungle has given me new perspective on two issues—Middle East violence and the spread of the internet.

Excellent! "Perspective" on the Middle East and that tube thing Ted Stevens was talking about, all in the space of 700 words. What pithy lesson(s) might the virtuous jungle hold for we corrupt city dwellers? Apparently, they lack wifi down there:

All we do now is interrupt each other or ourselves with instant messages, e-mail, spam, and cell phone rings. Who can think or write or innovate under such conditions? One wonders whether the Age of Interruption will lead to the decline of civilization…

What struck me about our Peruvian rain forest guide, Gilbert, though, was that he carried no devices and did not suffer from continuous partial attention. Just the opposite. He heard every chirp, whistle, howl or crackle in the rain forest…

Gosh, Gilbert sure is exotic and primitive, what with his… hearing. If only there were some way for the rest of us to avoid cell phones and spam without braving the Amazon. Some sort of… off button.

You can pay for that column here.

Matt Welch attempted to capture the Friedman back in August.