This weekend I received a request to remove the link to my BLOG from various social media platforms. I did. And this morning I put the links back up. Evidently the previous post about addiction to devices struck a sour note with some people.
I thought about it, cried and got angry. (Crying is how I express anger) I also decided that this is in the 'hot button' category. It's well worth writing more about. In my opinion devices and our ever growing need to be linked to an internet is disturbing.
My husband and I went out to eat this weekend, our payday treat to ourselves, at a local restaurant. We don't eat out much. I love to cook and being a bit introverted, we both enjoy our time by ourselves. But I also love the theater in the round that a restaurant is. People come in, mingle while they wait for their tables and, when they are seated, always start out with 'company manners'. About ten minutes in to being there they begin to relax. It's like the opening scene in a play.
Lovers hold hands, families get their children set up, meals are ordered, older folks talk, professors debate, singles watch and sometimes interact with people next to them. It goes on and on and it's never dull. There's nothing more fascinating than the human animal in a social setting. Even better the lighting is usually good and you can hear the hub bub coming from the kitchens too. I love the clatter of dishes and wait staff rushing around. It's a kind of unplanned and complicated dance.
We were sitting at a little out of the way table for two, enjoying the beginning act. We could see folks outside waiting to be called, talking and moving around. And the never ending stories inside were even more fun. A young couple with two children, a little girl with mismatched clothes that she had probably picked out herself and a little boy with that crackling energy some kids have were wiggling around while coats were removed and special kid sized chairs were set up. Mom was carrying one of those huge bags full of stuff all parents carry with them when they go out and Dad was busy snagging his kids as they began going around the table in circles. I love watching families!
And then Mom reaches down in to her bag, pulls out two iPads and gives one to each of the children. She gets her phone out and so does Dad. The light, that unseen energy that is there between people who love each other, went out at that table. They completely disconnected from each other. Ordering was perfunctory and NOT ONE WORD passed between any of them. They all sat there with that mechanical light that comes off of a device, reflected up on to their faces.
I watched and waited. They ate without looking at each other. Occasionally Mom would pick up something off the floor or wipe a chin off, but no one looked at each other. No stories. No laughter. Nothing. Leaving was just as perfunctory. The kids were crabby when the iPads were taken away, coats were put on and they left. I was so disturbed I could hardly eat. It was awful and sad.
We came home and I was given the request to take my link down to my post. How interesting. I had just watched a family sit at a table and disconnect from each other because of devices. It was like a cloud had settled over their table. It was lost time, lost opportunities to tell tale tales, laugh, solve problems, teach, debate and build memories. In my mind the point to my previous post had been proven. How VERY interesting.
I thought I would tell you what I'm doing to disconnect, to control the urge to constantly check in. The research is there and, ironically, easily accessible on the various search engines, supporting the facts. Cell phones, pads, computers and the internet is addictive. It's set up to be that way on purpose because it's the ultimate way to sell stuff as well as control large numbers of people. This isn't conspiracy stuff. It's all based on the idea of ADS and SELLING PRODUCTS. It's made to be bright and shiny, fun to watch and listen too. It is purposefully designed to activate parts of the brain, to provide rewards using brain chemistry to keep us checking in and buying, participating and focused on yet more bright shiny, sparkling things. We are being programed by fewer than three hundred engineers and programmers located in silicon businesses. They have, through the endless number of apps out there, the undivided attention of more than a billion people. And that number is growing!
On my previous post I added the interview with one of those former employees of one of the big companies. He gave me some good ideas to try. They're working too. 1. I changed the colors on my iPhone. I set it for grey scale, no color at all. It makes the screen dull to look at, takes all of the visual interest out of it. 2. I turned off the sounds except for the phone ringing. No more pinging and booping or clever funny sounds to get my constant attention. 3. I put my phone in a holster and leave it there. When I'm at home, I put it on the counter in the bathroom and leave it there. 4. I found an app titled FOREST. It cost me $1.99. I set the time to completely leave the phone alone and it grows a tree for me. In real time, when I reach the goal time, it sends a signal to the company and they plant a real tree! I am literally panting a forest while I make sure I do not pick up the phone. For me, inveterate tree hugging former hippy chick, that is just exactly the kind of reward I need. I can even set the time, on a little dial, to longer and longer periods. I started at sixty minutes twice a day and I'm now up to ninety minutes twice a day. The idea is that you can wean yourself off the need to use the phone all the time. It's a definite two thumbs up for me! 5. Today I am going to take off unnecessary links on my phone or put them in to boxes so I have to work harder to get to them.
Am I addicted? Probably. My excuse was loneliness. That one isn't going to work anymore. I'm focusing on my word for this year, TRUST, and I'm going to put a little faith in to the real world and use the virtual world as the mechanical device that it is. It's a tool that isn't going away soon so I am going to control my contact with it the same way I chose to control the gack that comes from TV and radio. I am the master and not the other way around. I am accessing it on a need to use basis and disconnecting in a profound way the rest of the time.
More quiet, less virtual noise. And I do treasure my quiet time.
One more PS. I will never follow anyone's request to take down anything I write again. If you don't like what I have to say, go away. Go play with your bright shiny things and leave my voice alone.
I am, Nancy, smiling and out the door in to reality!