Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer's Here, Slow Down, Unplugged

In The Shawshank Redemption, senior citizen Brooks gets out of prison decades after he went in as a young man. He took one look at modern life, and declared the world went and got itself in a big, damn hurry. I think that might be the mantra of today.

Step Away from the Blackberry

One need not look far to see the modern world has an affliction of technology ADD.

"It seems like he can no longer be fully in the moment," Brenda Campbell said of gadget-obsessed husband Cord in a New York Times article, Your Brain on Computers, Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price.

On the first night of a family vacation with their 16-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter at a cottage in Carmel, California, "We didn't go out to dinner. We just sat there on our devices," Brenda bemoaned.

I recall seeing an ad for new Sprint device that allowed users to be working while at a fancy restaurant, or on the beach. The ad tried to reflect the message you would be away from your desk. It left me with what I observe: people are always working.

And it also seems so many cannot put their devices down. While people talking on their cell phone used to be the norm, almost every time I'm savoring a meal at a restaurant, someone nearby is furiously typing away on a device. While enjoying grilled vegetable cheeseless pizza and a cider on the patio of Jersey Boys Grill, a young woman (21 I'd say) was with her parents and she spent half the time texting and e-mailing. Conversation is becoming a lost art. Remember when it took a major storm for families to sit down and converse? Children younger and younger are already hooked on gadgets. The makers of these devices are no doubt thrilled.

According to the Times article, "At home, people consume 12 hours of media a day on average, when an hour spent with, say, the Internet and TV simultaneously counts as two hours. That compares with five hours in 1960, say researchers at the University of California, San Diego."

While my job requires me to be in front of a computer all day at work, I am blissfully unplugged on the weekends. My cell phone is almost always off. I rarely send a text message. I'm not on Facebook (Paul Rudd wisely remarked that if he wasn't friends with you in high school, he does not want to be friends with you now). Amen. And I don't want to project every emotion I'm having at every second. The only tweeting I want to hear? From the birds. I do love my iPod, but would return it in a hearbeat to live in a world before all this plugging in.

Tonight marks the summer solstice. The heat is on, and the body must slow down. Mother nature insists upon it. This summer, unplug unapologetically and unabashedly for hours at a time. Remember the world was once quite functional without cell phones or Blackberries.

Savor the season. Delight in the simple pleasures of a cold glass of lemonade on sultry day. Relish in a mid-afternoon nap on a weekend when it's just too hot to do anything else. Read a library book in the shade. Enjoy a swim at night. Do as Natalie Merchant did in "Where I Go," - go to the river and "ponder over the crazy days of my life. Just sit and watch the river flow." Be fully in the moment.

Happy Summer to all.


ConsciouslyFrugal said...

That article totally freaked me out, as I saw too much of myself in their ADD-esque behavior. Eww!

I don't know where I found this quote, but it sings (and yes, pardon the irony), "As we record everything around us, we're inevitably undermining how we experience the moment. It's like when you continuously tweet, you can only pay partial attention to what's actually happening right then, because you're thinking about how to broadcast it." Dan Ariely

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

What a thoughtful quote, thank you for sharing it. It made me think of some of my travels when people are so busy documenting things they're not taking in the moment. How many times have I seen someone walk up to a piece of art in a museum, take a photo, and walk away without even observing the art in front of their eyes for a few moments.

I do think there are some good social aspects to some of these outlets and sites (especially using it for activist purposes). A lot of it just isn't for me.

It's all about awareness about how much it can overtake our life. I'm plugged in too on my blog and take many a photo myself. But it's good to strike a balance and step away from it too. Staying away from my computer most of the weekend helps. Set boundaries, and don't apologize for them, I say.