Technology saturates our lives. Because we live in the digital age, our lives are, well, overwhelming digital. I honestly cannot go a day without my laptop or my phone. If I’m not tethered to these devices, I will miss something important — an assignment, a quiz, an announcement. A deadline. Things that have significant impact on my future. To be successful, I cannot afford to disconnect.
That’s not the way I want to live. Though, believe me, I’m hardly an advocate for the “technology is consuming our generation and I weep for the future of humanity” slogan.
(I’m concerned for the future of humanity for different reasons. The election is in two days and it’s getting rather difficult to breathe.)
Even though I’m still doing my weekly walks, my phone is still with me. It’s not silenced, though maybe it should be (my watch buzzes when I get a phone call, so I could still be reached in an emergency).
I don’t think I use technology mindfully. I’m on my laptop for most of the day; the only reprieve I get is the two hours I spend in class, trying to be present. It’s a necessity — I have to graduate, and in order to do that I have to be on my laptop, trying to chip away the mountains of – pardon my French – shit I have to finish in order to earn my freedom. And when I’m not doing that, I’m endlessly — mindlessly, admittedly, more often than not — scrolling social media trying to catch my breath. Technology is an escape; or rather, it used to be. Now, it’s like a prison yard. More open, but still a cage.
I really like Leo Babauta’s article, “Simplify the Internet,” and I think he makes some excellent points and offers some tips that I’m — eventually — going to follow. I’ve been on the fence about deleting Facebook, or at least taking it off my bookmark bar — I’m only active during political seasons anyways, really. And, honestly, it’s become a source of pain. It’s full of reminders of the past, of the ways I can’t measure up to my family’s standards; it’s a reminder of all I’ve lost. Cutting it out, I realize as I type this, may be a good way to heal.
And, for some reason lately, I’ve been all about healing.
I don’t think Facebook — or any other social media site, really — is inherently harmful. But it has the potential to be. I don’t think digital technology is any more consuming than the introduction of the newspaper, or the telephone, or the plethora of inventions that have the paradoxical effect of connection and isolation.
Technology is, itself — in my opinion — inert. It’s neutral. It’s all about how it’s used, and like it is for many, if not all, things in life moderation is key. It’s about balance, and balance is achieved through mindfulness. Through consciousness and conscientiousness.
I think, when I can finally breathe again, when I can finally afford it, I’m going to assess my usage and cut it down. I’ll be down an email account (thank gods), and merging accounts seems amazing (even though I already have them centralized), and I’ve been needing to adjust filters and unsubscribe from so many sources. I’m certainly going to clean out my following list.
I don’t think I can ever do completely without the Internet. I don’t think any of us can. It’s not just an individual “addiction” (I struggle with this terminology), it’s the way our society is built. It’s bigger than individual habits, but society is also made of individuals.
In Katrina Schwartz’s article “What Happens When Teens Try to Disconnect From Tech For Three Days” this line caught my eye:
Teachers and students at Convent & Stuart Hall have become so used to using technology for everything that even when teachers knew there would be two days of class without it, the lessons stalled.
It’s not just the kids. It’s not just those young people. It’s everyone, it’s how we’ve structured our lives and how we’ve let our lives be structured. It’s the way our workplaces exist, the way our schools are setup: a constant, inescapable barrage of information and deadlines and things that we can’t afford to be disconnected from.
I’m including this TED Talk without much comment, because I feel that it stands on its own, and it is definitely worth the ~20minutes it takes to watch. However, I want to conclude by pulling this quote:
Wherever you go, there you are.
You just have to be aware of it.