It’s 10pm. It’s dark and it’s quiet. I’ve settled into bed after a long day sitting at the computer. My room feels peaceful and still compared to the world I’ve just stepped out of. For the first time today I’m left alone with just my thoughts, and a familiar gecko rests quietly by my bed in the comfort of candle light. No where to be, no need to communicate. Today I read emails, wrote emails, and answered the phone, got tweeted, texted, instagrammed, facebooked. Since when is “facebooked” even a term? But you get it.
In between work and getting home, I sat with friends and ate a slow dinner. Grazed, shared stories, laughed out loud. Audibly. Matilda was back from trekking the Himalayas with a group of strangers, she nursed the wounded in Nepal, meditated in Northern India, fell in love, cycled through the French countryside, toured Europe in a bus with a group of musicians, and wound up playing ping pong with Queens of the Stone Age back stage at Coachella.
I watched as the girls locked eyes around the dinner table, smiled wryly in unison and unleashed wicked rumbles of laugher as the story dipped, meandered, twirled and twinkled. It was one of a ten billion satisfying moments in my life, where the close friends around me were carried away on the same wave, feeling the same exhilaration, the same momentum. No distractions.
Matilda was back from trekking the Himalayas, meditat[ing] in Northern India… and wound up playing ping pong with Queens of the Stone Age back stage at Coachella.
As I lie in bed, I think about how difficult I often felt it was to share the little energy I had left at the end of a long day with my beloved friends. Why? Too much in a day. As the thought lingers, I pick up my iPhone and open Facebook. My eyes narrow as I compromise with the sharp light of the screen, my thoughts are interrupted as I stare into cyber space. Nothing’s changed out there, nor do I care if it has. But my precious thoughts have been interrupted. Thoughts more consequential than I have the wit to acknowledge tonight. I’m contradicting myself again. I realise, and toss my phone. It’s quiet now.
As I drift off, I consider how the most precious moments in life have come from opening my eyes and opening my ears. Perched on a mountain summit gazing into the spectacular reaches of the snow capped Rockies, sitting cross-legged with new friends from the far reaches of the globe, intersecting for a moment in time to be humbled by our differences, and marvel at what we have in common. I’m completely engaged with my surroundings, present in the moment, allowing ideas to flow like flowers in bloom.
It’s 9.00am on a Saturday morning and I pass a table of friends who could be mine. Two sip their coffees with one hand as they refresh their “feeds” with the other, their finger tips dance naturally and effortlessly between the abundance of apps. The girl at the head of the table is texting madly. Another positions her latte, snaps, and “filters”. For a moment I imagine the caption of her photo. #Coffee #Friends #Joy #Conversation #Weekend.
Then I imagine the caption for my mental photo of the scene. #Sad #Lifeless #Decayed #Stop.
We’re living in a new time, where disconnected engaged is an oxymoron that has lost its foothold, but its relevance has more weight than ever before.
We’re living in a new time, where disconnected engaged is an oxymoron that has lost its foothold, but its relevance has more weight than ever before. We are so obsessed with being connected that our ability to engage is being crippled with every swipe of the screen. We’re trading in the daily pleasures served up by the people around us, for up-to-the-second updates about people and things that are largely inconsequential.
When the coffee cups are cleared, the girls gather, smile sweetly, snap it, send it, post it, like it, share it, refresh it. If ideas were exchanged over breakfast, they were soon forgotten. Anxiety beings to grow as each minute passes. The newsfeed calls.
Try being disconnected engaged. Dare to dabble in your thoughts, listen to your friends, be present, observe, think, question, absorb. Don’t miss the miracles happening around you for fear of disconnecting with a hollow cyber space. Use the tools of a new era wisely, or be left one day staring a gaping and lonely void, an alien in your own reality.