Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Reflection and Resolution

Before moving forward into this fresh, new year, I'm taking a moment to share some thoughts that have been simmering off screen. For the last two months I've been investigating and discussing the virtual (and physical) clutter of my life. It began after I read an article from the New York Times discussing how the ways we communicate today are being interrupted and transformed by our constant connection to the internet and media. I knew my tablet was never out of reach, but was I allowing my connectivity to dilute my in-real-life relationships?

I took stock of the hours I whittled away on my tablet. Most often, I was browsing Instagram or Facebook, marathoning TV series, or binge watching all the Book-tubers I follow, inevitably growing my To-Be-Read (TBR) pile.

These hours were justified by my "exhaustion" from work or that I was "just browsing." One hour, however,  would quickly turn into a whole morning, and the plans I had to read a book, write morning pages or begin some household chores--something productive-- were out the window. Not to mention, hours in the evening I spent doing these activities were stealing away opportunities to talk with my husband or work on research for a long-dreamed-of novel.

How many things could I accomplish if I divested that time from media consumption and gave in instead to my dreams or responsibilities?

So I set up an experiment. I challenged myself by a No Tech Thursday with my husband. For at least three hours we would turn off all computers, phones, my tablet and the TV. Instead, it was connecting time. Face- to-face without screens distracting or interrupting.

The first Thursday, my fingers itched to pick up the tablet. My brain felt like an Olympic ping-pong match (think Forest Gump). Thoughts jumped and scattered: I need to send this email, write this post, respond to that comment, see what's the latest on Instagram. About an hour into the detox, though, the urge faded and I settled into an evening of laughter and conversation.

When I picked up my tablet the next morning (literally one of the first things I usually do once I'm out of bed), I recognized a pang of guilt and a longing for more "Thursday night moments." There was something attractive about the simplicity of disconnecting. I wanted less waste, more life.

A friend and I discussed at length my growing detest on connectivity and the media's push to binge media. My annoyance was a fiery passion, calling all to arms any who would listen. "The media is brainwashing us into wasting our time in front of screens! Won't you people wake up and see what is happening?!"

 His perspective was more balanced and focused on the portion size of media. Despite my annoyance at his logic, he pointed out that technology in and of itself wasn't wrong, it was how we utilized its benefits to our advantage. It was when we lost the control on our accessibility that it bled into an addiction.

I glumly accepted he had a point and faced reality: An addiction to media consumption is where I am headed if I don't make a change.

This year, I am resolved to not be ruled by my tablet or my "need" for entertainment. I've trimmed my Youtube subscriptions and am determined to only watch videos and shows in which I've truly invested my interest. My Feedly app is daily glanced at and articles I'm never going to read are dismissed. No more guilt about not getting to them. My TBR List has been purged and categorized. I will hear your recommendations but carefully weigh my interest before adding them. Everything has a season and right now, mine is to simplify and focus on my energies on the right things.

Here's to a sweet and simple '16. Cheers!

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