The two weeks I had away from work, away from the constant pull of Twitter and Facebook and blogging and the many tiny glowing screens that infiltrate the lives of most people I know, were astonishing. I felt so much more, well, connected to my life — to to my breathing, to my son and family, and even to thinking.
I try not to be a complete luddite and complain about how all this technology is wrecking the world. I realize it’s here to stay, and I am doing my best to keep up with it. But this brief reprieve has left me wondering if maybe there isn’t something to stepping back just a little bit?
When I got back, I found this New York Times article had been sent around and around among my friends and colleagues. And just yesterday I saw a woman at my town’s kiddie pool, tapping away on her iPhone as her unsteady toddler teetered at the edge of the water. She looked up for a millisecond to bark “Don’t … don’t … DON’T!” and grab her child’s arm to keep her from falling in. Then, back to the iPhone.
My heart popped with recognition. I do that. All the time. Maybe not at the pool, but in my house. In fact, sometimes (who am I kidding, most of the time) Nate sees the phone in my hand and starts whining. He knows my attention is going to be diverted to this tiny contraption. And while 75% of the time I am actually working on it — sending email or conducting a business call — the rest of the time, I am picking it up out of habit. Out of boredom. Out of a need to connect with an adult voice on the other end.
It’s not bad for him to learn that his every need can’t be met by me in an instant, and I’m grateful that being able to check my email or conduct a call anywhere allows me to work from home and for us to go to the park and do many things we could never do without it.
But more and more I find myself feeling fragmented by all the information – both consuming and producing. It’s almost like I can’t catch my breath – I am so fixated on the next tweet or image or comment or email. This is one reason why I’ve been slow to come back to blogging since my trip. I’m making a conscious effort to slow down, to try to not view every thing that happens to me as a possible blog post (trust me, no one needs that!) and instead, be in the moment. It’s close to impossible, quite honestly, but every once in a while, if I’ve left my phone inside while I walked the dog or didn’t pick it up in the middle of reading to Nate, I do feel a little less crazed.
So on the verge of this holiday weekend, I wish everyone a happy time away from the rectangular screens that claim so much of our attention.