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The Digital Citizens

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The Digital Citizens

Since Jan. 1, 2015, I’ve been interviewing one person each day about the meaning of life. Mostly total strangers. The Meaning of Life Project is my way of sharing what I've learned.

I think about death a fair amount; it’s a strange and not entirely unwelcome side effect of working at My job makes me think about life more and encourages me to unplug, slow down and live.

On the flipside, I’ve become more aware of things that hinder this type of mindfulness. One of those things is technology; our ever-present devices monopolize our attention, acting as both enabler and tyrant.

This month, inspired by these musings and keen to find better ways of living with technology, I focused my interviews on “digital citizens.” There’s a range of technological comfort reflected in the interviews, from an Uber driver who embraced mobile tech simply a way to make a living to executives who have built online publishing empires. In each interview, though, there was a common thread of daily work driven by technology.

Thank you all for taking the time to connect in an old-world way, helping me capture your inspiration on paper at a satisfyingly slow speed.

Female, 27

“Relationships and love are the meaning. When my husband's grandfather was passing away we all stood around and he said “This is what it's about: family and your relationships. I'm not going to be here. You have to continue this on.”

I'm trying to slow it down.”

Male, 40

“I think the definition of family is the people around you, not necessarily the people you are related to. Your family is who is around you.

Think ahead and plan for where you want to be. Think it through for the long term.

Tolerance and being open are key. People who discount other people don't get the meaning of life. People are limiting themselves. Be open to listening to people… it's the way we should live.”

Male, 54

“Pay attention. Usually people give children an iPad… I don't see kissing and hugging. I'm Brazilian, we touch people. I see my friends, I hug and kiss. Come on, pay attention.

Keep your family together. Family is all. If you have a nice base, a nice family, you will grow up and be strong. If you are together with your family you can go to war even, you are strong.”

Female, 32

“Stay curious. It's all about happiness and love, not imposing your beliefs. Loving others and being loved.”

Male, 26

“Life moves pretty quickly and things change unexpectedly. Cherish your relationships. Take advantage of every opportunity. I'm a people person… I always have my "talk-to-me" sign on. Something good always comes of the conversation. Be present and live in the moment. Don't waste your time on things you're not passionate about.

I wish I had traveled more. The exposure I had to other cultures impacted me greatly. I don't have kids yet, but I want to make sure my kids have that exposure. I know there is more out there. It's a big world - there is a sense of adventure.

Everyone is here for a different reason. Everyone has a different purpose. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. I think things always come down to family and building good relationships. Family and friends are all you have at the end of the day.”

Male, 38

“Always take care of people who take care of you. Put $20 in the tip jar. [I like] the Stephen Covey quote, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." Don't worry so much.

Leave the world a better place than when you found it.”

Female, 37

“Be in the moment.

Live big. Ask for help. Don't be afraid.

Community. Togetherness. Collectiveness. Life is about creating social infrastructure on a micro-level. Build an awesome micro-community. In this individualistic world, you can't do it alone.”