Julia Baird has caused me to pause. There I was sitting in the car line at school waiting for TD to make her wild-haired appearance and reading her piece, 'The Devil Loves Cell Phones'. We have all heard that silence is golden, but is it also the key to the sublime?
Baird writes, "The anonymity of the Internet has been replaced by hyper-identity; the idea of shutting up and staring at a rock, piles of sand, or blinking stars for hours, if not weeks, seems profoundly countercultural. I know, it sounds like the lament of the Luddite. But if generations of mystics and seekers have insisted that there's something that connects silence with the sublime, you have to wonder what we are distracting ourselves from—and who we could be if, every now and then, we paused."
While I was reading this I was consciously making the effort not to stop and check my phone. What groundbreaking moments were happening in my inbox or on Twitter? I must know! It's difficult for me to say this but it took some effort to not reach for my phone. It took real effort discipline to sit still and read a one page article. How sad is that? I complain that I am always distracted by the kids but I'm apparently completely distracted by technology too. And now I have no idea who I am spiritually. Life's noise, all those pings, pokes and blips has swallowed me up and I've lost the soft inner core of me.
That same day I had to drop off my phone for repair. When I left the store I felt a tiny moment of terror. I frantically thought of all the "what ifs" that could happen on the ten minute drive to TD's school. If something happened I would have to rely on the kindness of strangers. Those same strangers who are also so involved in their cell phones that they often don't notice when a woman is being abducted and thrown in the trunk of her car. We are so enamored of our own tweets and personal conversations on these devices that we have disconnected ourselves from the actual world around us. We fail to notice what is passing us by-good or bad.
What I am saying is nothing new. It's not revolutionary by any means. But for this week I'll be shutting off the noise. Embracing the silence and seeing where it takes me. Please feel free to join me.
What does this mean?
-Twitter only for uploading work-related posts.
-No time suckage that is Facebook.
-Less phone checking, radio listening and television watching. Period.
-More silence and looking at what is going on around me.
*In other news, MPR has its Holiday Guide up. It's small but has some good stuff for a variety of people on your wish list.
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