Disconnecting Is The New Luxury
I cannot tell you how many times I get a strange or confused look whenever I mention I’m not on Social Media (OK, I have a private Twitter account). Every so often, people will admit their envy when discovering I’m not on Instagram, Snap Chat, Facebook, Linkedin or anything else besides Twitter—asking to share my reasons—out of sheer fascination. I think my justifications are boring though because they remain far from any groundbreaking insight. Regardless, I still share them, hoping they may somehow edify those seeking deeper tactile for their lives.
I initially shied away from writing such an article given the irony I’m on Twitter, but I also perceive the strength of the social media platform—in its engaging community—over general “clout” chasing, generating likes, followers etc. in efforts to become the ambiguous “influencer” (a rather peculiar form of profession I argue isn’t real) to sell fat-loss products, tooth whitening or detox teas. I won’t spend time speaking against social media, nor discount them, because this isn’t about Social Medial as much as it is about us. Let’s also note many individuals aren’t on social media , so to my comfort , I’m no unique case.
A feeling of indifference is usually all I can muster whenever topics surrounding Social Media arise. “I guess it’s not my thing” (accompanied with a shrug) is my go-to response, but this wasn’t always the case. I’ve actually tried all of the Social Media platforms at one point or another before. Sure, they helped me “connect” in some respects, but I didn’t exactly find my life anymore rewarding because of them. What I was rewarded with however, were an enormous amount of perpetual distractions, superfluous content and irrelevant data that laid the groundwork for personality and mental disorders. It was then 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 convenience. 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. Almost like observing contrasting lives.
One existence ruled by community events, bike riding, scraping around for materials to build clubhouses, writing letters to pen pals (remember the taste of licking stamps?), 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 more current existence is ruled by the obsession to hyper connectivity via mobile devices, computers, Internet, apps, video games, social networks etc., accompanied by desperate times 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 Starship Enterprise for his small communication device, and Dick Tracy for his communicating 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 regards to 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, was me.
It happened so elusively I can’t even pinpoint the moment in time when it occurred: 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 its 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, texture and rawness that comes with real life interactions. It’s something that cannot be forged digitally. It has all 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 solution is found in unmitigated self awareness.
I needed to restore a sense of equilibrium in my life. Technology has its place and time within everyday living, but it’s not required to have a significant life. I often hear people admit if they were to lose their phone, they wouldn’t know what to do, that they would feel naked or outright panic. Has our confidence, productivity and dependency gone from ourselves to the technology we own?
As a result, 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 prevent me from disconnecting from myself. Even practices this simple most people cannot fathom—let alone— do now. But this is how my focus, priorities and productivity survives.
We need to simplify our everyday habits and focus on the things that keep us effective and efficient.
Understand the value of this literally inspired me to eliminate all the “additives” and distractions in my life. I want to simplify my day, not confuse it. I want to focus on components that propel me forward, not sabotage it. In essence, my decision to get rid of the fragmented projected culture social media manufactures, came from rediscovering my childhood living: the qualitative lifestyle I seek to emanate and sustain.
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 accomplish tasks and meet goals without anything stealing my time and progress. There’s something powerful, authentic and pure about moving through life this way. Call me old fashioned, but this is the movement 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