I remember the days when if you wanted to get a hold of someone, you had one number to call. Failing that, you could go over and visit them. If you lived a fair distance apart, you could send a letter, something you would have to put thought and effort into. There were days when I never heard from any of my friends, especially during the summer months. It was blissful! No, not hearing from my friends was blissful, but having that freedom, not being tied down to something that could put you in touch with the world in an instant.
That is my issue today. We are all too easily connected via technology and social media.
Now before you bring up the fact that I’m using a means of said technology to reach a bunch of people, hear me out.
Like anything out there, there are pros and cons to having the technology to call, email, text, tweet, Instagram, face-time, Skype, and everything else that will come out between the time I’ve started writing this sentence, until the time its finished. It is a cool thing to be able to connect with like-minded people around the corner, or across the globe. From talking about the newest TV show, to slamming the newest TV show, all these means of connecting and interacting with others is pretty incredible and fantastic.
Plus, it has brought to the attention many wrongs in the world. Would the Arab Summer, the Occupy movement, or any other injustices made in recent years have been brought into the spotlight without the likes of Twitter, Skype and others? It has also been a great tool for charities and social causes, bringing them the attention simple TV or radio ads never could.
There are also bad things about all this interconnectivity. Cyber bullying, cyber stalking, the means to promote hate and fear, identity theft, celebrities famous for nothing, and so on and so forth. But I’m not here to talk about the good or bad.
I’m here to talk the addiction many people have with all this technology, and what they are forgetting, the joy of being out of touch.
I recently started a new job and, thus far, have had the good fortune of working with some good people. But some of the younger ones can’t seem to work without having their smartphones out and within reach. Every so often, I see them texting or messaging someone. Now if it was an emergency, or if they were waiting for an important message, ok, I can forgive that. But I highly doubt their lives are so fraught with trauma that they need to be constantly on their phones.
Now, I have a smartphone, and I use social media, and text people. Yet when I’m at work, I’m at work. My phone is switched to silent and stays in my pocket. It only comes out when I’m on my break, or if I need to see what the date is, if there are no other means to check. If there is an emergency, my family and friends know they can contact me at work, on the work phone.
I’d say it is a generational thing, but I know many adults who can’t seem to put their smartphone down. Even if you having a conversation with them, they still have it in their hand and occasionally look down at it and do something. I always feel like slapping it out of their hands. Then there are the idiots who need to talk on their phones while driving. Even with the hands-free Bluetooth phones, it is still distracting trying to call someone, repeating the name or number over and over again when your hands-free system can’t understand you. I won’t even get into the brilliant fucking idea of putting a large screen in the dash to distract drivers even more.
Like I said, all this technology and means of connecting with others is great, but maybe, we should learn to step back, turn it off, or shut it down.
These days, more often than not, I leave my smartphone on silent, so I’m not notified of something someone said on Facebook or Twitter, or an email I got that I can look at later. When I need to reach out and tweet someone, I can, but we shouldn’t be beholden to our technology.
At the beginning of this blog, I talked about when I was a kid, during my summer holidays. Those were magical days. I hung out with my friends, watched TV, listened to the radio, or playing video games. But I also enjoyed the quiet times, the silence, the long stretches of time when I was alone, when I wasn’t planted in front of something. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the time I spent planted or whatever. But I also embraced my alone time. I enjoy not always being in touch. Even when I got my driver’s licence, I didn’t need to be in constant contact with others. I enjoyed just driving.
I think that’s my point of this blog, that because of these technological advances we now have at our fingertips, we feel the need to use them. But we don’t have to. We don’t need to post on Facebook every single solitary moment of our lives. We don’t need to post twelve selfies on Instagram. All these things we have access too, doesn’t mean they should consume our entire life. They are meant to be a means of communication, fun, and yes even education.
So here is my mission for any of you kind people who have taken the time to read this far. Try and get through a day without posting something to social media. Don’t send a text unless you have something to ask someone, or something to talk to someone about. Leave your smartphone in your pocket at work. For the love of God and sunny Jesus don’t do anything with your damn smartphone when your driving! At the very least, set your smartphone, tablet or laptop down and leave it there. The longer you can leave it alone, the better.
Maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn that you don’t need to be connected every second of every day. Maybe, you could even learn to enjoy staying out of touch.
… for a little while. 🙂