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Is the black mirror taking over your life?
We are always online. We post to Facebook, update our blog, pin things on Pinterest, skim through Instagram, and share our day on Periscope and we do a little Snapchatting on the side.
Then we answer a few tweets as we peruse through Vine, all while talking about something via text that we saw on the internet to a friend we’ve never met in real life. We even watch TV over the internet, taking screen grabs to share on Reddit as we go. It never ends. We are always either on the internet or talking about something we saw on the internet. Usually via that amazing little handheld device we call a smart phone or as I like to call it, the black mirror.
But is all this instant connection really good for us? Is it mentally healthy to have our nose to the screens when we could be talking to the person next to us? Do we really need to know what someone in Germany who you have never met is having for dinner? Or that a high school friend—who you hardly knew ten years ago—is getting a new lawn mower? Really? Is that more important than what’s going on with the person sitting next to you, who also has their nose to the black mirror?
Have you noticed that people have also begun basing the health of friendships on your online interactions with them? Many people think that if you don’t like all their posts, you don’t like them. They wonder why you liked only one of their Instagram posts, or why you thumbed up a friends post on Facebook but didn’t thumb theirs up. This is the new norm in online ideas of friendship. Let’s face it, basing a friendship on how many posts someone liked or didn’t like is insane. So maybe people should realize others aren’t mad or ignoring them. Maybe, just maybe, they are busy with life that doesn’t exist online.
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I love my phone, my internet, my laptop, my iPad, my tablet … the list goes on and on. But recently I’ve been wondering … Is it all worth it?
Last night we were watching a movie as a family. With a teenager, I am just thrilled when he’s home and in the same room, let alone watching a movie with my husband and me. Deeply engrossed in the film, I look around the room for a moment and realize, I am the only one fully engaged in this movie. The rest of my family have their phones out and are glancing back and forth between the movie and the black mirror. This is family movie watching at its finest in the 21st century. I know, it’s not a new thing, you probably see it at your house too. With everything at the touch of our fingers, it’s a hard temptation to put down.
That’s when I realized, we are now in a generation of people that never have to wait. We can get anything, and anyone at the touch of a finger. From movies, to food, to clothing… you name it and you can order it at the touch of a button on the black mirror of yours. Hell, if you want something bad enough, you can go to Amazon and get it delivered the same day. We never have to wait for anything, it’s all here and now and as fast as possible.
Some days, I just wonder if we aren’t better off without it all. Were we possibly better off when we had to share the phone line with dial-up? Had to actually log in and out, so your time was limited rather than limitless?
Then I got a crazy idea, maybe I should just unplug it all. Pull the cord and see what happens. Could I do that? Being an independent author I spend several hours a day online updating my social media and advertising my books. I don’t have an agent, one of those wonderful fairy godmother literary agents, who plan your appearances and handle your book deals. As an indie author, I get to do that all myself. Most all of it is done online. So, I quickly realized that if I unplug I would probably be unemployed. A conundrum. Stuck in a world where, thanks to instant gratification, I have a job that I love, and I am able to do it from home.
So I got an interesting idea, instead of cold turkey, maybe we should, as a group, cut down our time online? Limiting our use of our online personas and feed our off-line lives instead. Take in a park, hit a movie, go out with friends, and be in the moment rather than an onlooker.
Try doing a crazy thing. … Leave your phone at home.
What? I know. Remember a time when we didn’t have a phone tethered to us? Remember when people couldn’t instantly find you? Remember when you didn’t have to check your email, or answer a text while you were out having dinner with friends? Why not try it? Go a day, leave your phone home. Even better, power your phone down for a whole weekend. Tune into the people around you. Really listen – with both your ears and mind – to the conversations people are having with you, rather than around you. Find out for yourself if you are more than the black mirror we hold so dearly.
I dare you.