I have a not-so-secret love affair/obsession with my i-phone and technology in general. It’s the world in my hands and at my fingertips. If I want to find out how long to boil corn or how to change a flat tire, the rationale behind string theory or the number of monkeys in the jungle, it is all there waiting to be summoned from the mysterious depths of the internet. As wonderful as it is to have access to endless information, it is not my main reason to constantly check my phone or computer.
For me, it’s for the sense of connection that texts and emails offer and the validation that a like via thumbs up or a star provides. I constantly check and recheck emails and text messages and stats, giving too much time and value to the number of views or comments left. A void opens up in my chest when there is no activity. No calls, no texts, no views or comments. I am alone in the world and my loneliness is a black hole that threatens to swallow me.
Why do I allow myself to go through this torment over something that is as unreal and fleeting as phantasmagoria? All of it is smoke and mirrors, an intangible and impossible replacement for a real human connection and genuine approval. Yet, it is to technology that I continue to turn for entertainment, comfort and interaction and my anxiety around real people grows.
I am quite certain that I am not alone in this. I went on a bike ride with my husband, a real person, last weekend. We rode through a town in which people were gathered on park benches, waited in line for a restaurant and were seated at tables with steaming hot plates of food. Every single person on the benches had their phones out, they texted, played music and threw poke’ balls. Almost every other person at the restaurant had their phone next to their plate or in their hand. While standing in line, the people glanced at their phone or flipped through screens, some punched in messages or played games.
We rode onward and I felt a profound sense of sadness at the scene as it seemed like a fair representation of the greater population. There is a human desperation to feel a part of something greater, linked to others, approved and liked. Through technology, we have the ability to be constantly connected, no matter the distance. However, the closer the physical proximity, the less use or ability people have for a quality connection.
I am pledging to put my devices away for a bit and to appreciate the reality that surrounds me, to engage with other people, and to be present in my interactions. For the weekend, I will have to seek validation from within myself and connection with those in my household, on my block, and in my life.
Get ready husband and cats, we are about to have a seriously engaged weekend.