Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Life Intervenes

More attention seems to be focused on the fact that people allow themselves to be distracted by mobile devices. I am glad to hear this!

Distraction is a choice. Most of mobile devices are made to take messages, to pause, to stop, to turn off. There is no need for them to interrupt more important things in your life. And I am talking about things like:  paying attention to bodily needs and functions, being with your children, your elderly, your friends and significant others, engaging in solitary thought or mutual conversation, experiencing quiet or rest.

Distraction is a choice.

Many people have become obsessed with their distractions. Perhaps too many people have.

The question I would ask is this: are you fully alive when you are experiencing your technology, or is your technological conversation being made at the expense of other life aspects that may be more necessary, more engaging, more fulfilling and more healthy? What are you shutting yourself away from, when you choose distraction?

I know that there is a via media with regard to electronic media. I also know that people have been trained to purchase all the latest gadgetry, without being trained to socially conscious and respectful ways of using the apps and features, without training on how to discover -- or even that it is necessary to find -- a via media for their electronic usage.

People talk and talk and talk. It's a free country; you can talk if you want to. Blah, blah, blah. People talk about privacy, but they constantly give it up in public places. I hear about the infidelities and peccadilloes of many people I do not know (many I would not want to know, after hearing some of the stories) while I am with my family or even alone. Where do I hear these things? At the grocery store, the farmers market, the bank, the post office, the library, coffee shops, restaurants. The conversations are all one-sided, that is, I hear what the person is saying into the phone, but I can't hear the replies. I am glad of this. I don't want to know! I don't want to hear private information of others. It is not as if I am eavesdropping; no one can help overhearing the indiscreet commentary of others. When people talk face to face, voices modulate to make discretion possible. When people talk on cell phones, they battle with dropped signals and various levels of sound quality--this is seldom a recipe for discretion. Indiscreet behavior is modeled to children and other adults constantly.

And this is the point. Discretion. People have forgotten what that is. People have forgotten that even though thoughts run through your head, you don't have to speak all those words. People have forgotten that private conversations are really only those that are discreet, and by that I mean unheard by the public. People have forgotten that discretion is a useful social tool, perhaps more useful than all the electronic devices we have to "be connected" with.

But this is not the only problem. Our communication becomes evermore opaque and indirect.

Do we tend to leave messages, rather than speak to someone face to face?

Do we have email conferences, rather than speak to a primary person over the phone and disseminate a formulated plan for approval? I have to say, it is exhausting to deal with 30 to 50 emails, just to find out if 5 people can meet to discuss something.

Do we use public information forums as a place to rant our impotent rage against the things that irritate us or make us afraid? Does this solve our problem, or does it merely become a pathology?

Do we use our electronic tools as firewalls toward avoidance?

I am asking these questions because I want to know.

I live in what is laughingly referred to as the first-world, and it becomes less civilized, less willing to engage in true discourse, less democratic as the days increase.

If there is one thing I know, it is this:  life intervenes. Your socioeconomic status and the amount or quality of electronic equipment you own doesn't mean a hill of beans when that happens. Your distractions will likely have no say, hold no sway when life intervenes, though they might be of some nominal assistance, if used correctly.

Are you ready? Is any of us ready?

Trust me: your phone, your computer and your peripherals will all be waiting for you when you return from the intervention.