Put down your phone…close your laptop…turn off your iPad…
Good lord, folks, when did we surrender control of our own lives to the tools and toys we built to make them “better”? More importantly, WHY did we do so?
Now, look, I hate social media. That’s no secret, and no surprise, to anyone who reads this blog…or who knows me in the slightest. I’m an anti-social misanthrope who has no real desire to be “connected,” so crap like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are nothing to me. But still I spend far too much time on the web, and on email, and on texts, and on all the other “conveniences” that have become so unavoidable.
When I was young, answering machines were the thing. If you needed or wanted to talk to someone, you called. If there was no answer, you left a message that might or might not be returned in the next day or two.
Nowadays, we get pissed if someone doesn’t text back in fifteen minutes. And God forbid we fail to respond instantly with a Like or a Retweet or a Thumbs Up…
If something is that important, if something is that pressing, you should probably be talking, anyway. If it’s not important enough to talk, by the way, why the hell should anyone else care?
We spend hours a day…no, that’s not right. We spend by far the majority of our days enslaved to our screens, and to the dictates and commands of the electronic impulses they show. We Tweet and post and text, and call that “good.”
It all started with work. Because…of course it did.
For many years now, work has not ended at the end of the day. Not even close. Emails and texts and phones that are never Off, and our willing enslavement to the concept of instant response, and of “connectedness.” Our hours away from work became nothing more than “out of office work,” and our lives suffered accordingly — we suffered accordingly. But it was “work,” and work was “important,” so we “had” to do it…
Even as that culture built, we complained. We complained about overwork and demanding bosses and ”work-life balance.” We complained and cursed and whined, yet still we expanded on it. Still we built it into our personal lives, too. We let it enslave our free time, let it take over our relationships, until “connectedness” has become the only thing that matters.
And I’m just as guilty. I send a text, and expect an instant reply. I spend huge gobs of time on the web reading — researching, I call it, to make it sound more “writer-ly.” My many email in-boxes are always full….but still I check ‘em when I see that little notification. The world is one big Pavlovian response nowadays, subject to the compulsion of the many, many dings that control us. One ding for a new text, a different ding for a new tweet, yet a third for an email… The dings never stop.
I’d say we have becomes rats in a maze, but at least the rats get some freaking cheese out of the deal…
Put it down. Put it all down. Unfortunately, it’s a lot like giving up smoking — going cold turkey is a recipe for failure. Take it in steps, instead. At the end of the day — at 5:00pm or 8:00am or whenever you’re done with your day, turn off the dings. Stop checking, stop responding, stop being somewhere else, and focus on where you are. Turn off, disconnect, if only for a few hours a day. Once you get over the withdrawal and the DTs of that, try it for a day at a time…try to free yourself, a little at a time.
They say the first step is admitting you have a problem — well, that electronic collar we all so-willingly wear is a pretty big problem, if you ask me.