Summary of I Used to Be a Human Being

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I Used to Be a Human Being summary

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When you see the headline of yet another article on information overload and the hyperconnected digital age, your immediate impulse may be to skim, scroll down and click on to the next thing. But getAbstract recommends you scroll back, print this article and read it offline. In this deeply personal article, Andrew Sullivan goes beyond the tut-tutting and hand-wringing. He explores the origins of people’s need for information; explains how people find ways to escape the onslaught of gossip, memes, points and counterpoints; and narrates what happened when he surrendered his smartphone.

About the Author

Andrew Sullivan is a political commentator and a former editor of The New Republic.


As a blogging pioneer, author Andrew Sullivan was among the first of a crowd that voraciously devours news to spew out an endless stream of posts. Sullivan constantly updated his blog, creating his stories in real time as the information was coming in. But this virtual living took a toll on his health. At one point, his doctor asked him: “Did you really survive HIV to die of the web?” Reluctantly, Sullivan admitted to himself that he no longer had control over his online habits. In 2015, he “quit the web” and, a few months later, checked himself into a meditation center.


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    j. w. 5 years ago
    #30DaysOfSummaries Too much information does have negative effects on our daily life, and this summary points out a way that might help us to alleviate the stress from that.
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    A. 5 years ago
    My wife is a BIG fan of Andrew Sullivan and I too have always appreciated his observations on politics and humanity. His perspective often enriches my intellectual curiosity. This summary impacted me, so much so that I forwarded getabstract to my wife, a therapist and frequent user of social media.

    Recently, I lost my cell phone and for a period of time used an old flip-phone. As a senior leader with a Ph.D in Engineering, I was taken back by the overwhelming reaction to the flip-phone, less about fashion than the pretense of judgement. The majority of people have become increasingly dependent on connecting to the internet, to the point of blind arrogance. One of my biggest resentments is a sidewalk full of pedestrians head-down buried in their cell phones. Frankly, this zombie-like behavior make me wonder if people are just sleepwalking through life? Is this thirst for electronic connectivity really necessary?

    For over a decade in the past I lead trading and sales operations at a major investment bank, where the ‘Alpha-Male’ typically ruled. However today, it is evident that the primary skill necessary to excel is ‘data mining’ is the capacity to identify and analyze most swiftly.
    No doubt, cutting-edge practices in data analysis offer competitive differential advantage. However, because it is becoming increasingly common today to leverage data collection, those that strive to complement technology with personal-touch to spur growth, will likely win!
    I still have faith in humanity.
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    A. A. 5 years ago
    I tried doing that (stop, turn off phone, sit still etc.) after yesterday's challenge - Mindful Tech; I think it may not be as much the addiction to devices as nothing else to do. Says a lot about our economy and our way of life.

    #30Days of Summaries: Two more days left in this challenge, can we actually find something that is not personal management, technology or work related to read?

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