MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “addiction”

Living with/in social media

asocial-networkingIn an age where everything is public, everything also inevitably affects us no matter how much we deny it. We are so hooked on our digital existence that we really can’t see to be without it. It is as if we don’t exist unless we document our actions and share it online for the world to see. No matter how trivial or silly these may be.

The problem with social media nowadays is that nothing is truly private anymore. The confines of personal space and data have become blurred. Once information is “out there” it can literally never be retrieved and re-hidden, regardless of how much it is deleted.

We live in a period when our pass-time is spying on one another online. We may never speak in real life, but have the closest virtual connections and know all about one another’s life – or at least the image we each want to portray – solely from what we post online. Fake or real, our lives have been transferred onto a screen, be it big or small. And it is in that, however, that we’ve lost our human emotion in an attempt to gain more communication. The digital evolution has undoubtedly advanced communication through the certainty granted by the distance provided by the screen, and the time allowed to work on the expression of your views; because otherwise we would seemingly drown in all those things that would have been left unsaid. Yet, filling up with words and flagrant demonstrations of actions, we have become void of sentiment. We have lost the ability to talk, to gaze into the other person’s eyes and speak without saying a word. To understand through the tone of their voice, the message of their heartbeat. To comprehend their state of mind, simply by observing their body language. There are so many things that a screen can still not convey.  And it is through this smartphone and digital media addiction, that we have brought upon us the death of conversation, panicking like drug addicts experiencing withdrawal symptoms when we are found without a device in hand. It is a necessary evil of the modern age, but like everything in life, we need to be able to control and take hold of it. Not allow it to be the other way around.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Panic

Advertisements

What to do in a blackout

http://www.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/blackout_1.jpgThere you are, enjoying a steaming hot shower after a freezing cold day. You take your time, reveling in the warm water running down your shoulders, allowing you to relax and feel rejuvenated after a tiring day. A flicker of light gets you worried for an instance, but you decided to think nothing of it. And just when you lift your foot to get out, the lights go out and you find yourself in a total blackout. You can see absolutely nothing, so it is good you already know your way around. But what do you do?

Firstly, you need to put something around you, if only to soak up the water dripping from you. Then you need to find light of some sort – be it candles, the computer screen (for as long as the battery lasts), or even a torch on your smartphone (see, it is smart after all).

Voices are heard in the corridor, because it is not just your flat that lies in darkness, but the entire building. You half-open the window shutter to witness that the entire block is out of power. This is interesting.

It might take a while to get back the technology you are so accustomed to, so what do you do? You mainly appreciate the silence, acknowledging how much noise electricity actually makes – well, you did have the fridge, computer, television, radio, heater, and tea kettle on.

Then you begin to wonder what would people do without electricity? Sure, you still have your computer and phone working, but for how long? And there is no internet, so basically you are cut-off from that form of communication.

Are you dressed yet? You need to keep warm.

There are noises outside, running up and down the stairs. At least, someone is trying to fix the problem.

You head to the kitchen for a snack. There is no use staying hungry all through this ordeal. Find something healthy, like wholemeal chips. That will keep you busy while waiting in the dark.

You hope the power will return before the battery of your savior-machines bails on you.

And all of a sudden, there is light! You can hear the fridge sounds return, the TV turning back on, the modem signaling it’s on, the computer plugging in, the radio singing, the heater warming up again. You rejoice with the “return to civilization”. You exhale a sigh of relief, as your boredom ends.

But it is short-lived, as the blackout revisits. Apparently, the problem was not fixed.

So you sit and wait, until the power eventually returns for good this time. And as you watch the candle light casts its shadows in the dark, all you can do is acknowledge how addicted we have become to things we take for granted. Things that we can now not live without. Things that may help us, but at the same time have converted us into technology-junkies vulnerable to any situation that does not involve their use. Because, be honest, how many of you took a photo during a blackout to post once the power is back on?

 

N.B. Based on a true incident, Athens, Greece, 30 November 2015 (apart from the blackout selfie).

Selfish Shellfish Selfies

ShellfieGo into a café. Look around. How many people do you see who are really conversing? Who are actually talking and listening to each other? Look at their hand gestures, their body movement, their eye contact. Any? Now, count how many people you see instead being distracted by a digital device. Too many to count, huh?

It’s amazing how the first thing we have come to notice when entering a café, a bar, a restaurant, is whether they have free Wi-Fi or not. As if that is the criterion of whether their food will be healthy or tasty, or even edible. Because of course, we then have to check-in, post on every social media account we have, that we are at that specific place. And then, we have that irresistible need – that feels like an itch that must be scratched – to take selfies of everything, as if that is what will prove our existence.

We have become such narcissists and so self-centred that when someone asks us what we do, we hesitate for a while, and our thoughts run to the last thing we posted or read online in order to find an interesting conversation starter. How many hours of the day do we spend sunk in a screen, reading. As though we are shellfish retreating in their hard exterior, waiting for the moment a pearl will emerge. Reading about the news, about other people’s status updates, about pretty much everything. Because we need to be informed about everything. And then we also need to have an opinion about everything too. And we obviously need to post it to demonstrate that we are opinionated and follow the current trends.

But just consider for a moment, what happens during a power cut? We sit in silence not knowing what to do. And if we still have charged phones, we might take a selfie and save it for later, to post as soon as power is back – #blackout #nowwhat #awkward.

Is this what we want to be remembered as? The generation hashtag? We are so busy trying to prove that we are active digitally that we don’t really do much in reality. What is the point of going for a hike or for a cross-country train ride, when you keep posting updates of your location? How are you exactly enjoying being in nature away from the digital insanity? Sure, take pictures, but save them for later. Then you can comprehensively recap your experience and tell others how worthwhile it was to escape for a while. Prompt yourself and others to step away from the screen.

Because, honestly, is this all we have to show for ourselves? That we are selfish shellfish taking selfies?

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me

Also part of Daily Post: 21st Century Citizen

Disconnected

DisconnectedOK, who turned the modem off again?

Did the cat pull the cable or is the bunny munching on it again?

It was a usual day at the Thompsons’ house. Four people were all surfing the web, sending emails, or downloading videos on all kinds of devices – smartphones, tablets, computers, even on the television itself.

Can we call Carla again, mi hijo? I want to ask what happened with Juanita!” Even the grandmother had become accustomed to the wonders of a Skype call and she was really getting used to this technological marvel that brought people closer.

But today, there was a problem. Elliott was the first one to notice it. He couldn’t log on to the App store to download a new game and was beginning to get agitated. He had reached a level that was simply unsurpassable in all his existing games. He needed something new.

Jenna was also upset. She could not see the rest of her favourite reality show as the streaming was too slow and would constantly break up.

Charlie was complaining because he could not finish his work and couldn’t even send an email to warn of the delay.

Sandra was also yelling. She could not find anything else to do and had grown up with the Internet. From what she remembered, she had always lived a life online. How would she now check for social media updates? She felt extremely cut-off, isolated. “WTF!! It’s as if we’re back to the Stone Age!

Will, the father of the family had just got off the phone with the service provider. There was a technical problem and the Internet could not be fixed today. Efforts would be made to solve it as soon as possible, but tomorrow was the earliest that could happen.

Panic ensued in the Thompson house. “How will we ever survive?!” was the main concern of the youngsters, while grandma lamented not being able to see her sister in Columbia today.

Will was aghast. What kind of a world are we living in? We have no Internet and suddenly, life as we know it is gone? Do they even know that people had more of a life before the Internet? People in the Stone Age perhaps lived a more fulfilling life than we do today, he thought.

So he decided to try a different tactic with his digitally-addicted family. He dug out the box of board games that was conveniently stuck in a corner and was gathering dust.

He was shocked to hear that the youngest members of the family had never even heard of the likes of Scrabble, Monopoly, even Jenga. So he set on a mission to rectify this. It required a lot of patience and calming down the constant Internet complaints. He was determined to teach these new dogs, old tricks. He was sure that once they get past the fact that they all involved more than a swipe or touch of the finger, it would be fun.

He was right. They all, including Sandra, soon forgot about the screens they were so attached to and began laughing their hearts out when bricks fell, words were misspelt and money was lost while the players were sent to jail! “This is awesome! How come we never did this before?” wondered Jenna. Charlie looked at his watch. It was three in the morning but nobody seemed to care. “Just one more round of Jenga please?” begged Elliott. And alas, there was life beyond the Internet, and it was enjoyable too!

Saying ‘yes’ to ‘no’

Very busy manIt’s nice to be nice. But how nice is nice? Lost? Everyone wants to be appreciated and thought of kindly. And for this, many choose to act as such too. Often it leads to doing things over and above your limits or endurance. It means going out of your way to please other people, sometimes at the expense of your very self. But sometimes, all you have to do is simply say ‘no’.

It’s not easy, but sometimes it is necessary.

Trying to please everyone and be on top of everything, controlling as much as you can, because of the popular belief that ‘if not done by you, it won’t be done right’, will at one point of other result in more than just a perpetual state of “busyness”. It will lead to burnout. And then, being nice is no longer an option. It simply does not exist.

Like this amazing article explains, “burnout happens when you’ve been experiencing chronic stress for so long that your body and your emotional system have begun to shut down and are operating in survival mode.” It leads you into a state where you are unsure about everything, cannot make decisions, do not want to do anything, and have no desire to snap out of it either. It is close to depression, but with the added exhaustion, both physical and mental.

We tend to live in societies where being available 24/7 is seen as advantage but feels like the exact opposite. We need to feel the constant vibrations of phone calls, or hear the constant bleeps of emails and messages arriving to feel important. That’s why we spend most of our day with our faces stuck in a screen, to the point where we even fall asleep with these still in hand.

Somewhere along the line of technological development, we forgot that we are human beings, and transformed into “human doings”. We are the ones who created this “disease of being busy”. And we now occupy a world in which “we have more and more and more to do, with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?”

We have become so wired up, that it actually feels strange when we have nothing to do. As if it is a sin to not run around constantly. Life coaches themselves state that we need to allow ourselves a little break every now and then; to say “yes” to life by saying “no” a little more often. To allow ourselves to wonder at the marvels around us, to enjoy the small pleasures of life, to actually live.

We cannot please everyone. And no matter how hard we try, we never will. So why don’t we all just try to do the best we can, and enjoy the little time we have in this world. It all starts with two letters: “no”. Sometimes it’s all it takes. And if said as nicely as possible, you won’t lose face. You will just be seen as a person who knows and admits to their limits. And that takes more courage than struggling to do everything.

 

No one is too busy in this world. It’s all about priorities”.

Surviving without the Net

mac-internet-sharingThere is a child in a pram holding a tablet. It can barely say two words but it knows how to swerve its fingers in order to play a virtual game. There is another one which needs a screen in front of it depicting moving images, so it can eat a spoonful of food. Then there are the older ones that have a smartphone stuck to their hands as if their life depends on it. There is a man who enters the swimming pool with a digital gadget in a waterproof case. And these are not unique cases.

We spend our days fixed onto a screen; a digital depiction of reality, while real life passes us by. We are so deeply addicted to this new-age “disease” that we cannot even imagine life without it. Without a smartphone, a tablet, a computer, or simply put, the Internet.

So much, that when you are found in a location with no Internet access, you immediately classify it as an uncivilized place – because, really, who in this day and age does not offer free Wi-Fi!? – and then you struggle to survive a few days without the one thing that has become an intrinsic part of your day. You can feel the withdrawal symptoms already kicking in in less than 24 hours. You desperately try to find a Wi-Fi network anywhere. Simply to log-on and surf the web. Just open a browser onto any page. To view anything. Simply to feel ‘safe’ that you are online, even for 5 minutes. To sense that you are in familiar space, no matter if that is virtual.

By the end of day one, your hands are already itchy. You are even considering knitting. Simply to keep yourself busy.

We have become so addicted to the Internet – that place where you can find literally anything – that surviving without it seems like balancing without a net. And as we become all the more connected and digitally forward, we become socially awkward network junkies. All the while, reality continues to pass us by, without us even noticing.

Post Navigation