What We Learn Is Taut
You may have heard of the Third Wave by Alvin Toffler, but have you heard of the Fourth Wave? Probably not, given that I just made it up. This wave is the one where our capacity to absorb new information is being stretched to the limit. Muscles tight, moods edgy and tense, no patience, short with our loved ones, snappy and stressed to the point of losing all clarity and focus. We turn to the safest distraction from ourselves, as we delve deeper into our habitual fascination with the Internet. We remain firmly in its grips as if a vice were squeezing the remaining droplets of our personalities out through the pores of our skin. By the end of the day, we are frazzled and thirsting for something more, but to no avail. At night we hit the pillow with our laptops or tablets at arms reach. We have trouble falling asleep because we can’t shut down our busy thoughts. We toss and turn, look up a few imaginary ailments, maybe look up a school buddy, a lost love, a missed opportunity; maybe we purchase something frivolous just to make us feel better about ourselves, and then eventually we succumb to sleep, only to do it all over again when morning comes. We have the choice of conversing with our partner or browsing on the Internet, but we choose browsing every time.
The responsibilities for change lies with us, at least for now, but what happens if we do nothing? At work we huddle around our computer screens, we share our tweets, our photos, our chats, our emails, snaps of what we eat, what we wear, what we don’t wear, you name it, we share it. We can’t help but seek approval for everything we say or do online. While attending a Paul McCartney concert recently, I noticed most people watched the show through the lens of their cellphones. Of course the only time they would ever replay what they taped is if they could show it to you or someone else to seek approval. Why else? You know they are not going to re-live the concert on their cell phones, or would they?
How long are we going to put up with depriving ourselves of real substantive face-to-face contact? We have more point of contacts with names and emails than ever before, yet as the breadth of our human contacts increases, the depth of these mostly superficial contacts diminishes. We wait with bated breath for a “like” or “dislike” on something we post online as if this acknowledgment has any real value for us. It has gotten so bad, that we now turn the cellphone camera lens on ourselves so that we can record our every move. We replay it, we modify it and then send it to everyone we ever knew desperately seeking their approval. How in the world did we allow this to happen? Are we so uncomfortable in our skin that we have to immerse ourselves in cluttered digital chaos to get out of our own way?
I hear people beginning to complain about online dating sites and how they are becoming a shallow and meaningless exercise in futility. One person told me she gave up looking at her cellphone while waiting in line for a cup of coffee just to leave open the possibility of having a conversation with another person waiting on the line, only to find that everyone waiting for a cup of coffee, was staring down at their cellphones. Are you kidding me? An attractive person puts a cell phone down for a few minutes to engage in conversation and others are standing on line looking at their phones? If this weren’t so hilarious, it would be sad.
So here is the routine – Go on a picnic, go to a concert, take a bike ride, go on vacation, walk a trail, go to the aquarium, go to the zoo, go to sleep, but leave your cell phone off. Pull the plug on your laptop or tablet and take a few minutes each day and night and make a promise to get to know YOU again.
Of course, if you absolutely have to go online, as it is your only source of comfort, visit us at connectionsny.com, learn about us, stop by to chat with us, and if you are fed up with your present job, let us help you find a new path forward.
Because we all live on the same planet, we just have to learn how to move around in it again.
Our time on earth is precious; being stuck is a waste of time.