*For the next few months I’ll be featuring modified chapters from my upcoming book “Punch Failure in The F*cking Face” as posts: Hope you enjoy & they whet your appetite for more!
“I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here; it didn’t require any discipline to attain it” ~ Dr. Ian Malcolm – Jurassic Park
Full disclosure: When it comes to technology I know I’m a dinosaur; and truthfully, I’m probably way more Barney than velociraptor… I know, brutal right?
I don’t know what Google share is, nor do I know what Google Hangout is. I can’t find pictures in my drop box, nor can I pull up files in Slack; what is slack? I don’t even know.
I can’t do most of the things normal people do on their computers and/or handheld devices – Shit, with these fat fingers I can barely bang out a text without auto correct changing words like EpiPen into “epic penis” or meditation into “masturbation”. Hence to save face I keep my texting to a minimum.
Seriously, epic penis? More like EPIC FAIL.
I do own an IPhone, but use it as sparingly as possible. I don’t have a data plan; in fact I didn’t know what one was until a bill showed up last year to educate me. Apparently data comes from something called a “service provider” a title that implies a service is being provided in exchange for money; except this wasn’t my experience, not one bit.
Besides the$600 bill I received for I-still-don’t-know-what, the only service I received was to be on hold for an hour while someone in Delhi named Mike told me that (a) they would elevate the status of my claim, and (b) that the Visa credit card I give them needs verification – the same credit card that’s been perfectly fine for twenty years.
What’s the point of this rant? I’m pissed off that I’ve been forced to jump through all these stupid hoops to join a club I never wanted to be in in the first place; this being the club of people who’ve allowed their lives and intellect to be hijacked by the expensive, palm 2’ x 4” sized computers that seem to have taken over everyone’s lives and turned them into zombies.
You know the people I mean: Those people glaring down at their phones while blindly crossing busy intersections, oblivious to speeding cars; or parents who stick their phones up in front of everyone else so they can film the school play; or those so distracted by their texting that they trip and fall into mall fountains. Actually I like those last guys; they prove that karma really does exist.
I’m pissed that this same society says that if I don’t want to be ignored, I must join this crowd with their constant posting of pictures of what they had for lunch that day, or where they’ve been chasing Pokémon Go. Just give me a lobotomy and be done with it.
And therein lies my problem: Because of my close-minded black and white approach to technology I’ve missed out on some good stuff in the past. Not texting has caused me to miss messages telling me a friend was running late, or that they couldn’t find the Starbucks were we were supposed to meet at for coffee. And it sucks.
I miss out having a GPS in my pocket for those difficult to find addresses, or being able to instantly call the Auto Club if my vehicle breaks down in the rain on a busy highway.
Oh, and because I don’t have a handy camera at my disposal, I miss taking a really cool photos (Note: NOT always selfies) whenever the opportunity presents itself.
And if I’m going to be honest, I’ve come to view technology as a bad thing when really it’s not; it’s just being used very badly by most people, something that I’ve allowed to cloud my judgement of how it can actually help us.
For every good reason to use a handheld device (like contacting the auto club in an emergency) there are at least a hundred weak ones (LOL!) or downright stupid ones – I’m thinking Candy Crush and Pokémon Go – that have become the everyday norm.
Just as John Hammond felt no responsibility by recreating dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, the Internet has also put incredible power in the hands of people who’ve done nothing to earn it, therefore don’t feel responsible for the aftermath their ignorance creates.
Oh sure, devices won’t eat us when they run amok; but they’ve already proven to (a) override social skills, and (b) distract us from potential dangerous situations – and that scares the bejesus out of me. (Don’t even get me started on texting while driving)
In her excellent book “The Joy of Missing Out”Author Christina Crook identifies the good versus evil relationship society has with both the Internet and their smartphones, and very honestly describes her own struggles so much so that she went on a complete, 100% full-in Internet fast for a whole month and chronicled her findings in the book.
In the beginning Christina definitely struggled with the fidgety aspect of not checking Facebook and emails every few minutes but ironically soon discovered that what we rationalize as “quick” checks of these things (a) actually break our concentration of the task at hand, and (b) really adds up over the day.
She writes that after a few days a couple of interesting things happened. First, her concentration improved, as did the amount of time she now had to attend to her work and family. In other words, rather than helping her achieve her goals, having quick access to the Internet at all times seemed to imped them.
Once the 31 days was up she slowly integrated technology back into her routine, but much more cautiously, and sparingly – and for me, this was the lesson of her book.
Until I read “The Joy of Missing Out” I’d pretty much come to loathe how smart phones have turned much of society into a bunch of mindless, instant-gratification seeking zombies, but as Christina’s book clearly out it’s not the technology that does this, but rather how individual people use it.
And she’s right; we have a choice, and its up to us as individuals how – and when – we are going to use technology. The key is to use it wisely.
So rather than jumping back up on my soapbox to give the same old tired reasons why I can’t stand people being glued to their phones, instead let me highlight some important benefits we can gain by choosing some discipline by limiting our use of both the Internet and smart phones.
TOP FIVE BENEFITS FROM UNPLUGGING
- Opportunities to Connect: Not planning every social gathering through social media channels leaves us open to spontaneous encounters with old friends, plus the opportunity to make new ones
- More Time For Loved Ones: Scheduling specific email + social media check times and sticking to them keeps us focused on the tasks at hand, plus gives us more time for real life activities
- Better Real Life Experiences: Not staring down at a screen means looking up at the people and things in front of us. By not feeling the need to document and share every single on of these moments makes them more special and genuine for all involved
- Appreciating Real Life Takes Time and Effort: By taking time to live more in the real world rather than a digital world we feel more, experience more and learn real life lessons. We remember that real things in life take time, and that the instant gratification we get online is an illusion
- It Makes Us More Interesting: Reading actual books to learn new things, doing real things to enhance our life experiences and by actually connecting with people face to face makes us far more interesting than only reading online articles, or Googling activities, or only messaging people as a way of communicating.
PLAN OF ACTION
- If you want to gain control of your online habits (and your life) then limit the time you use your phone and push yourself to have real life experiences
- Check out Christina Crooks book “The Joy of Missing Out”