You make a lot of really good points. I have so much I want to respond to specifically...please forgive the novel.
I'm 21 years old, and I'm completely terrified of the information overload, it's basically what I think about when I'm most anxious (and what my art practice revolves around) so I wouldn't say we're comfortable - we're more trapped than that.
1- I'd like to see this art practice of yours. I'm intrigued. What medium do you use? Do you have a web portfolio?
2- I think 'trapped' is an interesting word choice. IMO a lot of the time, we consider ourselves trapped when we're simply just accustomed to the way in which we're doing things. I hate texting, but sometimes it's more convenient than picking up the phone and most of my friends are texters. I feel stuck in it and know that it's better if I just respond that way but deep down I just want to call.
That doesn't mean that it's frowned upon to take a vacation or even relax when your work day is over - it just means that most people are convinced that that is how a stable, healthy work environment looks like.
I think that's the issue though- that relaxation is changing. Productivity is infiltrating our entire lives because it can- so why shouldn't we let it? It is less about pure joy and peace of mind and more about "I will clean every speck of my house and reorganize my freezer and I will feel joy and have peace of mind because I am productive". Plus, if you are home from work doing laundry and you're interrupted by an emergency call from the office, at least they didn't interrupt something you actually enjoy. Even when some activities are purely recreational (like hiking or going for a walk) they are rationalized by the fact that they are killing 2 birds with one stone: relaxation and calorie burning.
I can see that you're coming from somewhere else, and I think that's good because I wouldn't be able to see it from that perspective - but that's exactly the point I'm trying to make. It's not the same for everybody, it's different for everybody. Some kids I know are hooked up everywhere they go and accept it as a natural part of the way they live - and who's to say it isn't?
Then there's the aspect of some people having been culturally conditioned to seek self-realization (like me, but of course in more extreme cases in Asia) and how they feel that their entire ego is built on the premise that they may soon obtain widespread recognition and gratification. Some are more lucky than others and realize soon enough that no matter how hard you try there's going to be some ups and downs. But people like my friend's chinese cousin (who lives and studies in China) are so conditioned to believe that the only important thing in their lives is their education and later their work, that when presented with the prospect of going somewhere where there's every possibility to socialize and meet new friends, they're confused because they've never had any.
I like that you pointed out what you did in that first section. It may work for some people even if it doesn't for others. I try to hold tight to that notion in most situations but I tend to get carried away when it comes to things that I consider fundamental needs (like relaxation). I'm a very anxious person and without my downtime I think my brain would explode.
The only thing that I question a bit is where you mention self-realization. At first it sounded as though you were talking about self-realization in the way that it is described by humanist psychologists- after an enormous list of tangible accomplishments, one has fully 'realized' their potential. But the Buddhist interpretation (which is what I though of when you mentioned "extreme cases in Asia") of self-realization is quite different. The way I understand it is that it is only achieved through awareness and internal reflection...without the influence of external forces or occurrences. Maybe I misinterpreted what you were getting at?
What I'm trying to say is that it's not necessarily sad that it's like this now, it's just different and that's not relativism - it's knowing that every generation has lived differently and the elder generation will always be somewhat skeptical of "the new ways".
With that being said I'm completely in love with physical media and insist on buying new music on vinyl when I have the money and use Spotify or other streaming sites for when I don't. I seek the old ways too, and I enjoy having to flip the LP but I know that this isn't true for everyone.
This makes me feel old. I'm only 26, and I'm definitely not entirely skeptical of "the new ways"- I have a Kindle, an enormous iTunes library and I'm a last.fm addict. Don't get me wrong, I love technology and all the fantastic advances that have been made in the field- my dad built me a computer when I was 7 and I've watched all the changes come and go since then. And I'm a Google fiend- I'm fascinated by the accessibility of information and sometimes I question what I would do without it. But I think my attachment to the past is the artistic/romantic aspect of it all. There's something that seems more meaningful about it that I can't quite put my finger on. Something more enjoyable about the less technologically oriented ways of doing things. I don't think by any means that we should all throw out our gadgets and go live in the wilderness....but I think every once in a while, shutting off your cell phone can be the most liberating feeling in the world.
Also, to pwhodges and doombilly- exactly! In most cases, our salaries are not increasing with our responsibilities. Unless you're an hourly employee, it doesn't matter how many phone calls outside of work you get- if you take 3 one week and 30 the next, you're still getting the same paycheck.