“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
Restart. Reboot. Reset. Readjust. Rework. Realign. Result?
I have, in the past, touted myself as the patron saint of trickster gods. What does that mean? The short answer is that I advocate for the benefit of intelligent mischief makers who take delight in messing with the status quo. But while that’s not the subject of my ponderings in this moment, it does makes sense that I would lead with that.
No, for the past few days (years? decades?) I have been developing a talent in the art of the distraction. (I know, who hasn’t?) Especially considering all the amazing shiny things there are to distract myself with. My phone is full of them, proved not only by their existence but by how much time I spend gazing into the brightness of the screen.
But I’ve noticed recently that I’m not really ingesting much of the information I’m taking in. I’ve become en thrall to the sensational headline, the scroll scroll pause reader tactic, the “liking”, the “loving”, the observing without any engagement whatsoever. The interaction has started to feel insincere.
(To be clear, not on the part of anyone else but me. I can’t speak to the depth of experience anyone else is having, ever. I’m not you. I can look at you, but only from the outside. Please don’t ever think that my perspective of the tiny robot experience should in any way affect your own.)
Everytime it makes a noise, I reach for it. I’ll be in the middle of a conversation with an actual person and I’ll be thinking about what that alert indicated. Sometimes when I’m visiting, I’ll turn the volume down but if they get up to get another glass of wine, I have no problem idly scrolling through the feed while they’re gone. To be clear, they went one room away and I’m having trouble not filling in the seconds that they’re gone with more information that may or may not be pertinent to reality.
And so I decided to experiment with disconnecting, to a certain extent. I have no desire to disengage, I’m not leaving facebook, detweeting my twitter, unpinning my pinterest, deactivating instagram or any accounts that I’ve not signed into recently because I’ve forgotten the password.
But I’ve uninstalled them from my phone. I know the whole point of most social media is to have it there, to instantly connect with friends and family, to share what’s going on in one’s life in real time and it’s a damned beautiful thing to be able to do that.
But I was spending far too much time as an observer, without actually seeing anything. I had stopped commenting on pictures and posts from friends, beyond the lip service of a like, clicked hastily before I scrolled the screen to the next one.
It feels dishonest. So I’m taking a step back. I’ll still be accessible, if anyone needs me, I’m easily found without too much trouble. I’ll just be a bit quieter in the feeds.
I’m restarting gently. No hard reboot. Just a subtle attempt to reset my priorities, to readjust how I process the information I’m taking in, to rework my ability to more fully comprehend what I’m experiencing, to realign myself with habits that are beneficial not just to me, but perhaps resulting in a ripple effect of creativity and sanity.
I could use more of that.