Disconnecting is the New Luxury.
I can’t tell you how many times I get a strange or confused look whenever I mention that I’m not on Social Media (Ok, I’m on Twitter). At times, people will admit their envy when they discover that I’m not on Instagram, Snap Chat, Facebook or anything else (besides Twitter). In fact, they ask me to share my reasons why, out of fascination. I find my reasons mostly boring because they remain far from any groundbreaking news. But I do want to share the crux of them with you.
Initially, I shied away from writing such an article because of the irony, given I’m on Twitter. But I also know the strength of Twitter is in its engaging community and not necessarily built on generating likes or followers so I can get paid to sell fat loss products or tooth whitening. Connecting to everyone on Twitter has honestly been fruitful for me. I’ve learned a great deal about different industries, cultures and personalities, and have enjoyed the digital connections I’ve made throughout its use. So, I’ve been rewarded with its benefits. I won’t spend time speaking against the other social media platforms nor discount them because this isn’t about Social Medial per say… it’s simply about us. And I’d like to note that many people, aren’t on social media either — so to my comfort — I’m no unique case.
The feeling of indifference is all I can muster up when thinking about Social Media, and I typically respond with a polite, “I guess its not my thing” (accompanied with a shrug) whenever asked why I avoid it. However, this wasn’t always the case. I’ve certainly tried nearly all of them before. Sure, they helped me “connect” in some respects, but I didn’t exactly find my life anymore rewarding because of these “connections”. What I was rewarded with though, was an enormous amount of distractions that laid the groundwork for mental disorder. That’s when I noticed something quite disturbing about modern living.
We don’t live productive lives. We live distracted ones.
Today I walk around with a smartphone as it effectively meets my everyday needs and demands with efficiency. But every once in a while, I think back to when I was younger, when no one had any mobile devices, few had computers — let alone internet — and find myself wondering how we ever existed without technology or the Internet of Things. It’s actually quite interesting to see what was then and what is now. It’s like observing two different lives.
One life was ruled by community events, bike riding, scraping around for materials to build clubhouses, sending letters in the mail to my pen pals, reading Encyclopedia Britannica, helping mom cut out coupons for food shopping, being mischievous with neighborhood friends, supper with the family at the table, and who can forget — the living room with the television set — and if you had it good, a VCR.
The other life, ruled by the obsession to hyper connectivity through mobile devices, computers, Internet, apps, video games, social networks, texting and entertainment media. All accompanied by a life desperately seeking WiFi hot spots and outlets for our depleting batteries.
We’ve come such a long way in technology in such a short amount of time. As a kid, I envied Captain Kirk on the Star ship Enterprise for his small communication device, and Dick Tracy for his wristwatch. I would’ve never guessed that in my lifetime I would own technology that surpassed these things — once considered only science fiction, but I do. Most of us do. It’s such an incredible human achievement where we stand today in global communications and technology. It’s exciting and fast-paced, but somehow, I still find myself looking for something more… and it’s a bit odd. I look around and seem to have everything I want: A nice computer, amazing phone, 4K TV, gaming console, etc. But I still feel disconnected. What was missing? Me.
It happened so elusively that I can’t even pinpoint the moment in time when it did: The time technology took over my life.
When going out to play ball was replaced by long chat room sessions online. When hanging out with friends was replaced by online gaming, and when talking was replaced by texting. Long gone are the days when our homes had that one telephone shared by everyone, and when you received that “special call”, you ran into the bathroom stretching out that curled phone cord to it’s max just to get some privacy. It may be silly but I miss that. And I think that’s what’s missing — the human connection. The weight and texture and rawness that comes with real life interactions. It’s something that cannot be forged digitally. And it’s been replaced by technology.
We don’t visit anyone anymore because we can just video chat. We don’t write letters to see how our friends and family are doing because we can just check their latest status on Facebook or Instagram. We don’t talk to anyone anymore because we can just text with a bunch of people simultaneously. It seems that we’ve allowed technology to replace the things that enrich our lives.
We’ve never been closer and further apart from the world at the same time. The answer is found in our balance.
I needed to restore a sense of equilibrium in my life. Technology has its place and time in our everyday lives, but it’s not required to have a significant one. I often hear people say that if they lost their phone, they wouldn’t know what to do. That they would feel naked or outright panic. Wow, really? Our confidence and dependence nowadays has gone from ourselves to the technology we own. Because of this, I’ve actually started to leave my mobile device at home during non-working hours/days and not watch TV for extended times, and use the Internet only when necessary. All in efforts to keep me from disconnecting from myself. Even something this simple most people can’t do now. But this is how my focus survives.
We need to simplify our everyday habits and focus on the things that keep us productive.
This literally inspired me to eliminate all the “additives” and distractions in my life. I want to simplify my everyday habits and focus on the things that keep me moving. In essence, my decision to get rid of the fragmented culture social media manufactures, came from rediscovering my childhood living — the lifestyle I seek to emanate.
In the end, my only gripe is that I did not do this sooner. I cannot tell you how much more purposeful and peaceful my days are now that I can get things done without anything to take away from my time and progress. There’s something powerful and pure about it all. Call me old fashioned, but this is the flow my soul loves.
In conclusion, I would like to leave you with words from a wise man to meditate upon.
“This is the paradox of our times.
We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers
Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints
We spend more, but we have less.
We have bigger houses, but smaller families
More conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees, but less sense
More knowledge, but less judgment
More experts, but more problems
More medicines, but less wellness.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often
We have learned how to make a living, but not a life.
We have added years to life, but not life to years.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back
But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We have conquered outer space, but not inner space.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted our soul.
We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We’ve higher incomes, but lower morals.
We’ve become long on quantity but short on quality.
These are the times of tall men, and short character;
Steep profits, and shallow relationships.
These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare,
More leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.
These are the days of two incomes, but more divorces;
Of fancier houses, but broken homes.
It is a time when there is much in the show window, and nothing in the stockroom.
A time when technology can bring this letter to you,
And a time when you can choose,
Either to change… or just hit, delete.”
-Dr. Bob Moorehead