Sunday, July 20, 2014

Digital Diet


I know, I know, I hate diets too...just trust me on this one...

I have this new fascination with trees.  I would rather be looking at a tree right now than a computer screen.  There is something wise and peaceful and calm about trees.  I mean they have seen it all and they know.   They may know more than my computer.

I want to be like a tree.  I want to just sit there in the sunshine and breathe.  Creating oxygen and growing is their only job.  I used to never be nutty nature girl, but now I’m like so granola lately it’s out of control.  I know I’m a self proclaimed hippie and all, but I mean I’m not a gypsy.  Although I’ve lived in a few different parts of America in my day.

Perhaps like Bono I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.  Have you?

I’m looking for trees apparently.  Trees and waterfalls and oceans.  I want to be close to the beauty of the world. 

Of course I’m at a place that has no respect for trees, Barnes and Noble.  Do you realize how many trees have been chopped down to create all these books?  I don’t know if I love it, I hate it or I’m indifferent.  I love books, real books with pages and covers and interesting smells.  But let’s be honest the e-book is saving trees like nobody’s business.  We need trees more than we need the nostalgic value of a hard cover book.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to sell the hell out of hard cover books, but that my friends is another hypocritical dilemma I will deal with in the unknown future.

The thing is an experiment is being done on me by circumstances.  I had to leave the house for like six hours for various reasons and left my cell phone at home.  I’m going to be straight up honest: it is very freeing.  First of all because no one can bother me as I’m working, I don’t have any distractive little thing to text with or fuck around with.  I mean I still have the Internet on this computer, but generally speaking no one really knows what I’m actually doing or where I am.  I kind of like that story.

I remember in college, for irresponsible reasons my phone was disconnected at my apartment.  Irresponsible is a euphemism for “I didn’t pay my bill.” I didn’t talk to my parents for like two weeks.  Nowadays it’s strange if I don’t talk to my parents twice a day.  I liked when they could not get a hold of me for weeks at a time.  In fact once I lived in Washington DC and didn’t even have a phone in the room I was renting.  I was “temping” at the time and I would call my parents from various company telephones.  And sometimes I would not call them at all.  In fact once I didn’t call them for like a month. My mom started screaming that her daughter had run away when I did call. 

My point is I was free.  Yes I was free to screw up my life in any way that I wanted to.  But freedom is freedom.  With all its risks and counterpoints, in the end I loved being free.  Does that mean I don’t want a cell phone surgically connected to my hand twenty-four hours a day?  No.  I want my phone.  I just don’t want to set the precedent that I’m available on my phone all the time.

What’s in a phone anyways?  I mean why are we texting and emailing and Facebooking all the livelong day?  What were we doing with that time before then?  We were living, people.  We were living.

Is this electronic obsessive behavior really living?  What about walking in the middle of the forest and not taking our iTunes with us, but listening to the sound of the birds instead?  Or walking with a friend and having a really long, really deep and meaningful conversation? Or how about laughing our asses off without having to say LOL?  How about we actually laugh out loud instead of proclaiming that we are laughing out loud?

I love my Kindles and phone and light as a feather computer as much as the next guy.  In fact I’m using the very computer I’m warning you against to warn you against it. 

Isn’t it ironic?  Don’t you think?  Sooo Ironic.

I was teaching a class on irony and tried to use Alanis Morissette’s song: Ironic.  I tried to get the video to play in the class so the students could write down all the ironic things that she pointed out.  Of course the video was not loud enough and they could not make out her words.  That is technology for you.

In the future, when robots are teaching kids, we won’t have to worry as much about technological glitches.  We won’t have to worry about anything: we will be robots.  We will have apps instead of emotions.  Our phones will be surgically put into our bodies along with a GPS device and our social security number.  People will know where we are, what we are doing and how to get a hold of us.  They will record our conversations, video tape our actions and find us wherever we are.  Nothing will be private, nothing will be real and the world will be sadder than it is now.

Wow, look at that.  That is a premonition I don’t want to come true.  I’m not sure where that came from but I think it was as deep-seated fear.  A fear that we are not only connected to machines but we are becoming machines.  Or we have become machines, you pick.  Are you a machine?

Am I a machine?  I mean I really don’t know if I can look at myself objectively.  But am I closer to a machine than to a tree?  Maybe. 

I’m trying, I mean this whole day without a phone is kind of a blessing.  It’s making me rethink my relationship to technology.  The thing is I shouldn’t have a “relationship” with technology, relationships are saved to have with people.  Somehow I think technology increases or enhances my relationship to people.  It doesn’t.  It may also be impeding my relationship with myself.

Why can’t I be alone and just be me without needing these gadgets?  When is the last time you were disconnected from the world and let yourself just be?  I want to breathe again and feel and really live. I don’t need the Internet or a phone to do that. 

Truthfully I don’t know if it is the fault of our technology as much as it is the fault of our society.  We have become more disconnected, there is a less sense of community.  People are lonely and alone.

We in fact are social animals, and naturally we don’t need social media to fill up our social needs.  We need people.  We need real friends, not just Facebook friends.  How many of your Facebook friends could you call up in the middle of the night if you had an emergency.  I think I can count them on one hand.  I’m lucky I have that many people. 

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy having a public persona, but this is just a persona.  I want to be real with my real peeps.  I want to shoot the shit. 

You know what shocks people, when you call them in response to a text.  It usually surprises them.  Do that.  Instead of emailing someone, give them a ring or stop by their home or work.  Let’s make a date with each other. 

Let’s have a real relationship with the world.

Now put down your device and go do something real.


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