MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “Digital world”

Filtering our focus

In a time of rapidly evolving channels of information, is the problem that we know too much, or that we think we do? We’re constantly trying to keep up with the tide, but it seems that something else beats us to the news. There is always something happening we know little to nothing about, or worse – we only know part of.

We hoard information from so many sources for later. Because there’s just too much to read out there, and there’s little time to do it in. No matter how fast you skim read, haven’t you found yourself skipping articles or emails, or saving them for later, if it’s more than three scrolls long? In this busy contemporary lifestyle, we need to get to the point quickly. We’ve become so easily distracted that things – people and conversations included – need to gain our focus fast (and keep it), otherwise they’re considered tiresome and unworthy of our attention.

It may be dubbed “first-world problems”, but let’s face it, this is the environment we live in. We need to adjust to survive.

This acute article that came my way from my inspiring boss who knows me all too well, resonated with me from the very first sentence. If you’re a reader, you know to the bone what it’s like to hoard reading material in all forms – paper and digital. You also apprehend what it feels like to tell yourself you’ll read it later, but instead keep elongating that list that never seems to get shorter or even at the least done. Perhaps the real problem though is not that we hoard too much, but rather that we fail to filter right. It is indeed unfeasible to read everything we would like; a lifetime would not suffice for that. But shouldn’t we be able to prioritise what’s important?

Like the people and things we devote our attention to, prioritising is important in maintaining a healthy, productive and sane lifestyle.

Just think about this: when you’re younger you usually make a habit of remembering everyone’s birthday, sending out celebratory wishes and attending as many parties as you can. But as you grow older, you begin to filter out people, keeping in your social circle those who matter, who enrich your life and who make you smile. Even if you do remember certain birthdays, you choose to celebrate those of value. And that’s what makes them more special. Because they belong to the selected list of few exceptional people.

Shouldn’t we be doing that with everything we dedicate our time and attention to? Otherwise, what’s the point, really?


Needing something you don’t know you do

The thing with shopping is that you don’t know you want something until the moment you see it. And despite not really needing it before, in that precise moment you can conjure up so many different uses for it that it becomes a must-need purchase. And just like that, you become a shopper.

Jenny was an avid shopper. For all kinds of things.

The most dangerous type of shopping is the online one. Because there you spend hours on end scrolling through sites, experiencing a different kind of window-shopping, to the extent that you forgot what you actually needed to do, or how you even ended up on that particular site. But in seconds, you become so mesmerised by the need to acquire something you only see on a screen that you end up rapidly spending money you don’t actually ever see to buy products you cannot feel or test. And then there is the added anguish of having to constantly monitor your order to ensure that it will eventually arrive to your doorstep. And if not, there is at times an endless bureaucratic procedure to get your money back or at least the product at a delayed arrival time. It makes you wonder if it is worth the trouble of actually going to a store and purchasing things in hand.

But Jenny loved online shopping. It somehow offered the therapy she needed from the comfort of her own couch, scrolling thorough different interesting products and styles and imagining how she could wear or make use of them. She knew that online offers were a lure. A cheeky one often, because they were targeting consumers like her who couldn’t resist. But she would always fall into the trap and then rummage for cash until the end of the month.

She was somehow compensated for it all though when her digitally-purchased package finally arrived. And the unboxing process filled her with joy. As if someone else had given her a gift.

Sometimes the things we give ourselves are what make us happy, even if they do decrease our funds.

The difficulties of detachment

The reality is this: even when on holiday, on a leave, on a short getaway, we feel the need to be connected with the world digitally. We fear we’ll miss out otherwise. That something life-shattering will occur and we won’t know about it and we’ll be the only ones feeling we’ve been living under a rock simply because we don’t know of the latest trending topics.

So we spend our entire lives – without break – constantly attached to a digital world we are paradoxically trying to escape from.

We can’t turn it all off and disappear, although we know that would be the ideal.

We are unable to disengage, to discharge from the social media stress because we’re constantly thinking of our next post, our reaction to someone else’s post and so forth.

We’re caught up in an unhealthy antagonism of who’s having the most fun in the better place, and we waste time like this instead of actually having that fun and enjoying ourselves with the people physically next to us.

We find it almost impossible to distract our minds, to unplug from it all and simply relax. It’s as if we can’t not do anything. By now, due to the radical rhythms in which we live our lives, something still and tranquil is considered by our systems as abnormal. As something we are almost physically incapable of doing.

We are so dependent on our devices, we cannot enjoy the reality of doing things without flaunting them.

And in the end, we forget to chase our dreams because we’re busy chasing after the acceptance of people we hardly even know. For no apparent or useful reason.

It’s good to – at least try – to detach from it all for a while. To remember what it was like without the intrusion of social media in our lives. When everything – even our relationships – were so much simpler. And we weren’t all so constantly agitated and stressed that we are perpetually on the verge of a burnout.

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

The World is Going Digital

A decade into the 21st century and already the 1990s seem like a lifetime ago. With tape recorders and VHS video tapes being replaced by CDs, Blu-Ray discs and MP3s, the younger “digital” generation seem to be conversing in a language unbeknown to the older ones. Black and White television has been replaced not only by Technicolour, but by LCD, Plasma and LED High Definition TVs and soon even 3D TV. What is more, digital channels are replacing analog ones, and wires are becoming extinct due to the power of Wi-Fi Internet.

Children going to school today are no longer asking for a new set of coloured pencils, or pens, they are demanding new laptops, tablets, and any new technologically advanced gadget that may have emerged into the market. Even learning material is now being placed online with e-textbooks soon becoming the norm in schools that will replace pages and sheets with screens of various sizes. Books have already taken the digital form with e-books surfacing for use on the Kindle and other e-book readers.

This of course does have its benefits in that it reduces the amount of paper and ink, for example, consumed, as well as the weight and bulk of books, while it also makes it more convenient – for instance if you are searching for a journal online, this saves you time from running to the library and searching for it in paper form. Digital forms also allow for greater accessibility, portability and usability, especially as added features such as embedded video, interactive activities and digital annotation tools are becoming more standard. But it also has its disadvantages. This “digitalized” generation might never experience the joy of turning the yellow, crispy pages of an old, priceless book. Or even what “doggy earing” a page means. Or taking notes at the side of a textbook and highlighting important passages. They might even forget what it is like writing with a pencil or pen, as typing has weaved its way so deep into our routines that it appears almost natural to use our fingers to communicate in writing on a digital screen.

In fact, when you have to search something you don’t know about, no one says “go ask so and so”, they say “Google it”. Obviously, the digital vocabulary has even become part of our language. In fact, the “digitalization” of today has entered with such force into our lives, and has brought with it an array of abbreviations. It is questionable, however, how many actually know the meaning of all those terms they so often use: HD, LCD, MP3, DVD, CD, Wi-Fi, WLAN etc.

Nonetheless, digital technology is not confined to the younger generation alone. Even the older ones become acquainted with it, not only because it simplifies their lives, but in order to keep up with the changing tides. Newspapers are read online and now everyone is suddenly a reporter. Citizen journalists have evolved out of the very application of having a camera on your phone – whether it is smart or not. Opinions are now freely expressed, by anyone, anywhere and at anytime, whether they are welcomed or not. Indeed “we live in a digital world that is filled with more information, more things to do, and more ways to communicate with others than ever” (Mike Sievert).  Anyone can have a blog, a Facebook account, a Twitter account, and any other profile on any social network of the numerous available on the World Wide Web.

But how World Wide is this Web? I doubt if the people fighting in Syria over their independence and democratization have the will or even the time to surf the web. Or if the starving people in Africa and other so-called Third World countries are blogging about their situation and their news. The world may be going digital but this fundamentally applies to those having the advanced technology and the capacity to be able to do so. China and the other Asian countries for example are perhaps the leaders in this concept, as Asians so often flaunt the new technology they own – the latest smartphone, tablet, camera, computer etc etc. The digitalization of a society thus also depends not only on its facilities and infrastructure to do so, but also on their economic capacity to fund such a change.

Nevertheless, whether responding to the need to facilitate citizens’ lives, or the desire to realize advanced ambitions, the world is going digital. And whether we agree with it or not, it is a change occurring in an evolving world, and it is one which we must adjust to.

Also part of Daily Prompt: The Next Big Thing

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