"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction." ~E.F. Schumacker
A few weeks ago, I was sitting with Marissa Hyatt on the pedestrian bridge in downtown Chattanooga when my phone was stolen. I wish that I could tell a tall tale of manly heroics and combat involving the loss of my personal communication device. This would be a story involving me having my phone be taken by a hooded fiend who I let escape after a long and bloody battle, but the actual story is not quite as exciting. I left my phone on a bench, and someone took it. Either way, for a short period of time I was phone-less but surprisingly not that upset. I of course realized the financial implications and overall inconvenience involved with losing a cell phone, but I almost felt as if I'd been unplugged from the machine. Or rather, some hooded fiend had unplugged me.
I have recently begun to notice that the pace at which I live my life is ridiculous, especially considering the fact that I consider myself somewhat of a relaxed, outdoors man. There is not a point in my day when I am not in some way connected to an electronic piece of equipment. I am obviously referencing my phone (may she rest in peace) but I am also referring to my laptop, and all the amazing things that she does as well as my TV, video games, ipod, and anything else that connects me with "the outside world." To try and explain the way that the internet controls and affects our lives is a topic to be covered by another blog (or term paper) and since I don't want to write an e-book tonight, I'd like to examine the negative aspects of technology in my life and hope that the cyber world can relate. And yes, I do realize the irony of writing about the evils of technology on an online blog, I also know that I will undoubtedly promote this blog on twitter and facebook. So yes, my opinions are conflicting and convoluted. What else is new?
To say that technology distracts me would be like saying Creed is sort of cool. Both of these are understatements the size of killer whales. (Speaking of which, has anyone heard from Shamu?) Technology distracts me because it is is so very inescapable. A typical Sunday afternoon consists of me watching the Tennessee Titans either destroy football teams, or run from them like little girls. While I am watching these games, I am on my laptop checking fantasy football scores for 5 different leagues (I'm losing in every last one of them), watching youtube videos, learning about new climbing techniques, chatting on facebook, looking up pictures on facebook, doing french homework (kind of), browsing craigslist, etc. The point is, although I am sitting down enjoying a football game, I feel the need to be constantly busy. Technology distracts me from the things I love by offering an entire universe of useless garbage for me to explore. I strongly believe that my generations lack of attention span is really not a lack of attention span at all. We can't stay focused on any one thing for long periods of time because we've been classically conditioned to be constantly exploring and gathering information. Even if the information we gather is relatively useless, we are still constantly searching for knowledge. I believe this level of constant stimulation is why teachers are having to adjust the style of their teaching to keep students' attention.
The accomplishments of the internet are obvious. We now live in a world where every human on the face of the planet is literally within clicks of one another. I can get online and look up traffic patterns in Tokyo while ordering a novel from Australia written by a Ukranian author who's currently explaining the ways that European pubs have developed over the past 500 years. That said, It's much more likely that I'll be on facebook looking at pictures of people I haven't seen in years instead of reading a book or getting well deserved sleep. All this to say, my point is quite simply that it is nice to unplug yourself every once in a while.
...and here a few ways how:
- Go for a drive with no known destination or idea of how long you'll be gone (take a best friend, a best cd, or both)
- Go for a bike ride with a friend (without a phone)
- Spend an afternoon at a park or mall reading (and people watching)
- Look up a local national or state park and go out for a day of hiking
- Cook dinner with some friends (It's cheaper and hopefully much tastier than fast food)
- Ask your local outdoors person to take you rock climbing
- See if your school or community has a kayaking club/lesson night (if you go to UTC, come to the pool on Tuesday nights)
- Have a day of picture taking (fill up your memory card/roll of film)
- Find an interesting place to dance
- Ask someone out on a date (this one's dangerous, but why not)
- Wake up and run
Those are some of the things that I do when I feel too technologically overwhelmed. What do you do?
"Man's heart away from nature becomes hard." ~Standing Bear