I’ve been somewhat of a straggler when it comes to technology. I remember being annoyed when text messages first became a thing, and for several years I was always yelling at my friends to quit texting me because my cell plan only included something like 30 texts a month! Once it became clear that texting wasn’t going away I increased my plan, and these days unlimited texts are just the norm and phone calls are the weird thing.
Then smart phones became a thing and I avoided getting one until I started my business in 2014. At that time, an employee in the phone store mentioned to me how common it is for people to drop their phones in the toilet. I replied incredulously “What? The toilet? Why on earth would anyone have their phone with them when they’re on the toilet?” Um, yeah. It took me about two weeks of owning a smartphone to be scrolling through it every time I took a pee. I get it now.
And one of the most famous Carrie quotes in my group of friends came from way back in 2005. We were out and about, and people kept insisting on taking pictures with their digital cameras (this was before camera phones, of course). I was getting annoyed and declared “I swear, we spend more time documenting our lives than actually living them!” Oh, 2005 Carrie – you were so young and full of hope.
Look, I’m not trying to act like I’m above our cultural norms, and I’m not trying to act like pointing out how much we use technology is a revolutionary statement. We all know that as a society, we are very invested (some would say addicted) to technology. But there’s also a lot of good things about this stuff. Like, 2005 Carrie complained about digital cameras, but 2018 actually enjoys taking photos for Instagram (sometimes). And the introvert in me loves that texting and emailing lets me avoid the awkwardness of phone calls. So yeah – my point is not “technology is baaaaad!”
Here’s what my point IS, though: in the past few years, I have personally realized that there is less and less space for life to talk to me. I am as guilty as anyone of using my phone to fill up small pockets of time: I’ve been known to scroll through it on the toilet, or in line at the grocery store, or waiting for my food to come at a restauraunt.
These little innocuous periods of time seem unimportant, but I can remember a day in which they were spaces for life to talk to me. Instead of getting into a phone vortex, I would people-watch while waiting in lines. Or daydream about the novels I wanted to write while taking my daily dump. Or, you know, actually TALK to the people sitting with me in a restauraunt.
Perhaps most importantly, it is now harder to make space for any daydreams or insights waiting in the ether to come through. When I’m sucked into the whirlwind of a phone, I’m in a state of distraction. It’s never about connecting more deeply with the present moment, it’s always about withdrawing. Sometimes it’s even about pushing away the discomfort of, gasp, having nothing to do for five minutes.
Lately I’ve been trying to ease out of the habit of automatically picking up my phone in any tiny spare moment. Honestly, the urge has become so engrained that lately I’ve taken to leaving my phone out of reach so that I don’t even have the option. I doubt I’ll ever swear off technology entirely, because I do enjoy the connection and creativity it can bring. But it certainly has an oversaturation point, and that’s what I’m trying to address here.
Because I want more space for life to talk to me. I want to be open to the little messages from the universe. I want to be aware of the sights, sounds, sensations and smells of each present moment. I want to feel alive and present, not distanced and distracted. This isn’t a want that is manufactured by my ego. It is a craving of my soul. So I guess I’ll keep trying to make more space for life to talk to me.
But first, let me go see how many ‘likes’ my latest post got on Instagram…