When I go on longer drives, I like to find a couple good TED talks that I can listen to while I drive. On Wednesday, I heard one that really struck a chord.
The talk was by Sherry Turkle, and titled “Connected, but alone?“. At almost twenty minutes it’s one of the longer TED talks, but I highly recommend watching it. Turkle brought up some interesting points that I’ve thought about (especially robots being the demise of humans–fine, she doesn’t make that exact point, but she’s implying it).
One great point she made is that technology gadgets have made us uncomfortable with being “alone.” To the point that we (or I) lunge towards our phones for company. Turkle mentioned grocery lines and red lights. Guilty and guilty. The red light thing is something I realized a couple months ago. I got to the point where I couldn’t sit at a red light without checking my phone and trying to find something to interest me. When did I become bored with the people, cars, streets, homes, schools, stores, pedestrians, etc., that surround me? At some point, I felt the need to rush to my phone for entertainment for every second of down time.
I also latch on to my phone when I’m standing in line somewhere. I’m not sure why I feel awkward just standing there. Maybe it’s to avoid awkward glances or interactions with strangers. But the status I’m reading on Facebook might as well come from strangers, it’s not like I’ve seen most of them in a few years anyway.
Another great point Turkle made is how we prefer interactions via technology, as opposed to human interaction (in person or even on a phone conversation instead of texting) because we can “edit” ourselves: we can change, draft, delete, and perfect. We can present ourselves as we want others to see us. We can keep the bad to ourselves, and present only the shiny, cool, interesting. I often have to remind myself that people (usually) only post the great or fun stuff that happens in their life, and that I shouldn’t be jealous of the great trips, excursions, outings, etc. that they are enjoying at any specific time. I have those too. Just not at exactly the same time that they are. And they have shitty moments just like I do: they have to work, make a living, deal with the mundane of every day life. Sure, some of them take more trips than I do…but that’s for another discussion (socialism!) ;)
I decided that I fall into too many of the scenarios that Turkle mentions in her talk. Now that Lent is over and I no longer have to say “no” to chocolate, I’m choosing to wean myself off of my phone. Not that I’m going to give it up entirely (ha!), but I want to be better about being in the now, being aware of what’s around me, and not focus so much on being “connected” to people who’s lives and whereabouts have absolutely zero effect on my life and happiness.
I started last week by doing really simple little things, like leaving my phone in our room when we’re in the living room, or leaving my phone at home when we go on evening walks. Today I took a big step: no phone while driving. “Hey, isn’t there a law in California about using your phone while driving?” Yeah. Most people still do it, and I’m probably one of the worst offenders. Especially at red lights. When I was done with tutoring tonight, I challenged myself to not look at my phone at all during the drive home. I realize to some of you this probably sounds ridiculous. It is. But at least I realize I have a ridiculous problem that needs to be addressed. And for some reason this blog allows me to feel ok sharing my ridiculousness with all of you.
Anyhow, I made it home without looking at my phone. Instead, I sang along to the radio, belted out a few good ones, searched for better ones, looked around me, and had a thoroughly enjoyable ride home.
My next challenge: leaving my phone on the desk when I go to bed, instead of next to my pillow. I mean, really…I’m not in a career field where I’m expecting an emergency call, email or text in the middle of the night. And I don’t need to check Facebook as soon as I wake up.
Baby steps…(and yes, you can make fun of me all you want).