Sometimes its good to be bored my father said to me when I complained as a child of endless summers of nothing to do and the television quota met for the day. I didn’t realize it at the time but the musicals, skits, and stories written to allay the idleness were the most beneficial things I could have done for myself. I needed those quiet moments of nothing to reflect and grow creatively. Steve Jobs, may he rest in peace, despite being the man who brought us the ipod, smart phone, computers and all the other means to perennially distract ourselves credited his creativity to boredom:
I’m a big believer in boredom. Boredom allows one to indulge in curiosity and out of curiosity comes everything. All the [technology] stuff is wonderful, but having nothing to do can be wonderful, too.
Last week I wrote about my desire to unplug. Though I failed at my mission to kick the internet out of my life for a week as planned, I did learn a great deal, including just how seamlessly it has woven itself into the fabric of my life and how difficult it has become in this day-and-age to be bored. I listen to NPR streaming as I do morning chores. I read blogs on my smartphone as I put Waleed to sleep. Small things I never noticed until I tried stopping. Meth addicts might have handled their withdrawal with better dignity than me.
As much as I wanted to share how unplugging changed my life and I now sit by a zen garden each morning whilst doing yoga- I can’t. The good thing though is I did learn about my habits. I became aware of how much I use the internet and in learning this I can learn to tone back. In particular I learned that:
(1) Facebook is a time-suck. It’s purported benefit of connecting you with others is mitigated by the fact that if you’re not connecting any other way, what relationship are you nurturing? The new format, the way it throws everyone’s business in my face on a nonstop stream makes me feel sick. I was off FB for a week. I don’t miss it. My posts auto-post to my account, but I’m debating deactivating and being done with the whole thing, especially after Ruby pointed out FB is quite the “Big Brother” I can’t help but wonder is having an account worth it?
(2) I know some people thrive on twitter, and social revolutions perhaps stemmed from it but I’ve never fully understood it and time apart makes it seem even more disconnected to my daily life. The more I’m on twitter the more it matters, the less I am, the less it does. It feels like high school again. And I don’t want to go back to high school. [though this applies to facebook as well I guess] and [does anyone else have these weird nightmares where they dream they found out they actually didn’t graduate high school because they missed one credit and have to go back and start all over again? Just me? Mkay] And while I know twitter is beneficial for many, for me its more time-wasting than time-enhancing.
(3) Julia said it best, moderation is key when it comes to smart phones usage and connectivity in general. How insulting to those in the flesh before me if I’m clicking my phone responding to e-mails, texts, and reading updates effectively dismissing the value of those before me? How distracting a life to live doing three things at once? Now, while I enjoy my NPR as I do dishes, I put my phone away for meals. While I read blogs while waiting at a doctor’s office, I close the laptop when I’m not using it to simply surf mindlessly.
While I plan to completely unplug at some point, at least for now, all or nothing doesn’t work. But maybe with moderation, I might find a way to actually succeed in the long-term. The key with wanting to stop, is not to prove that I can, for the simple sake of a self-challenge- but to allow my brain some room to breathe, to think, and to create. And to teach my son to the same. He’s growing up faster than I can blink, and no screen is beautiful enough to miss a moment of bearing witness to the person he is becoming. I hope when it comes time to give him his internet quota for the day, like my father and my TV quota, I will tell him to do as I do, and not just as I say. If that’s not motivation to moderate, not sure what is.