“Check texts on the run.” —said a Samsung smart watch ad.
“Wait — what?” I did a double take. The young, fit jogger on the poster smiled at me. I realized that this was more than just a clever pun. Samsung was actually trying to sell me a smart watch by telling me it would make it easier for me to check my texts while running. Pfft, as if I even exercise on a regular basis. And when I do choose to exercise, running is definitely not in my routine.
But to all the spirited runners out there, do you really wish you could check your texts during your morning jog? Is this actually a desire that’s been burning inside of you?
I’m going to take a guess here and say no.
“So Samsung, why do you think this would work?” The woman on the poster keeps smiling. I’m not sure what she would say to me if she could talk.
“Now, you can be connected even when it’s incredibly inconvenient.”
“Haven’t you always wanted something to stare at while waiting for the light to change?”
I laugh. Nice one, Samsung. Technology is supposed to make things easier right? Even when it doesn’t always make sense.
For the last two weeks, I’ve actively been choosing to spend time in silence.
When I’m on a streetcar, when I’m walking down the street, when I’m waiting for the bus; I put away my headphones and turn off my phone or iPod.
I do this because I feel like I need to give my brain some breathing room. If I’m constantly subjecting it to a non-stop stream of noise and information, when will I ever just think?
If I’m consistently detaching myself from my environment, when will I ever see and hear what’s new to discover?
It’s interesting to me how active this choice has to be. It seems it’s more natural for me to plug myself in, than to just stand, sit or walk. It’s like I can’t commute without a soundtrack. I’ve lost the ability to just be alone with my thoughts. And I find that to be a terrifying.
Thinking, pondering, reflecting… all of those are vital to the idea-generating process I so desperately need to fuel my writing career.
So, I’m actively choosing to be still — to give those quirky ideas the space to float into my brain where they can hatch into something new.
It is ironic that the first thing I do when I get home after staring at a screen all day is:
1) Turn on the computer
2) Check my phone (which I’ve already been doing on the commute)
3) Check my email and Facebook
By the end of my work day, my head is literally pounding from the screen glare. My eyes can barely stay open. But by some freak of nature, the second I walk out of there, I crave technology.
I don’t know if that means I’m sick or enslaved.
I’d like to think that technology at work and technology at home are two totally different things. At least, psychologically. I feel better sitting on my couch, typing away on my laptop. But then again, I guess you wouldn’t feel that great after gawking at a screen for five hours straight no matter where you are.
At home, I get to do what I want online, with no pressure. At work, well, besides trying to absorb every tweet and post in every feed and, hatching new creative ideas, my brain is overloaded. It’s a wonder it hasn’t crashed sooner.
Still, could I re-wire it to last longer? Or is this more destructive than restorative?
What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
I’ve run out of things to look at on my phone. I’ve exhausted every feed of every social media I am a part of. Even the ones I never look at. My phone battery is at 10 per cent.
No one is texting me back. My boyfriend should be home from work by now, but he’s not texting me. Is everybody really just that busy? Apparently, I am the only loser sitting in a parking lot waiting for my mom.
My eyes have officially glazed over. My body is entering a nap-like state. The theta waves are in full gear. I recline the car seat and give in.
I wake up to the first ping. Finally, someone to keep me company. The more I text about my situation, the more it bothers me. There were so many things I was planning on doing tonight. Why did I agree to drive my parents here? I should’ve just stayed home.
I can’t believe this. I’ve wasted 45 minutes here in the parking lot, just sitting in the car. This is disgusting. I had so many plans for tonight. I wanted to write. I wanted to read. I wanted to play my ukulele. I shouldn’t have to sit here after a long day at work. I deserved to stay in and do what I wanted. When she gets back in the car, I’m going to give her a piece of my mind.
Still waiting. I’m just so tired of waiting. I don’t even care anymore.
She raps on the window. I unlock the door and start the car. She starts to tell me all about the clinic. About the rooms and patients and all the wires. I can barely take in the words. She’s not even sorry for making me wait. As if she had any control over the situation in the first place.
In my lethargy, I doubt if I have a right to be upset. As much as I want to punish someone, there’s no one to blame.
What does it matter that I had to wait? I had no control. I had no choice. There are greater tragedies out there than waiting in a parking lot for an hour.
But it stills feels unjust.
I’m lucky enough to work at a job where I have the liberty of checking my cell phone every now and then. When it’s really quiet and there’s nothing to do, I’ll text someone I haven’t talked to in a while.
This is a very strange way to go about my day. Technology has given us the ability to be in more than one place at once. This is not a new idea. But it led me to think about what I would be doing with in those moments that I was texting someone if I didn’t have a phone. Would I make more of an effort to talk to my co-worker? Would I clean up around the store more?
And what would happen to those relationships that have largely been supported through text? I guess those relationships would disappear once we stopped sharing a common time and space.
The scariest thing about that thought is that I struggle to think back to time when I didn’t have a phone. What did I do? I can only picture myself in silence, not really doing anything different at all. If that’s true, I guess technology has only added to my life. But part of me is haunted by what I could have missed in those moments of silence.
Do you remember what it was like?