Yesterday, I was knee deep in a newly discovered podcast. It was surprising to me because I don't often like many podcasts. Which to many of you may come as a shock, especially since I co-host my own. But I'm not a podcast enthusiast. In fact, I didn't even know what they were until a few years ago. To say I'm out of the cultural loop is probably an understatement. The same mystification goes with finally discovering what hashtags were. Where are people learning these things? I'm not on the same page or even in the same library, it seems.
Anyway, this podcast is right up my alley. The last episode I listened to was 2 hours long, and they talked about Neo-liberalism and Animism and lots of other isms and it made me quite happy. I was fully involved in the conversation as I was doing other things like revamping my website and checking off my own podcast to-do list.
Eventually, my work day was coming to an end and I had a decision to make. I could stay inside and listen to the rest of the episode or go outside and pick blueberries. Then I thought, "Oh, I could just listen to this episode while I pick blueberries." But I quickly remembered part of the conversation I had just listened to. The host recalled a situation where he watched himself interact with his phone. He had just checked social media, and then put his phone down. Then 3 seconds later, picked his phone up again and checked the exact same app. 3 seconds later. 3 seconds!
Does this alarm anyone else? It alarmed him. It alarms me. I do the same thing, or at least I used to. Over this past year, I've decided that my phone does not, in fact, need to go to the post office with me, or the woods, or to my blueberry bush no matter how interesting the conversation is. So, I put my phone down.
But, as I walked out to my blueberries, I thought, "Oh, what an interesting blog post this situation would make." Then I shook my head and thought, will I ever be able to enjoy anything without the voyeurism of the internet? Can I just enjoy a thing and keep it for myself?
It's a complicated situation, really. I think we all struggle with feeling tethered to the internet in one way or another, but one thing I have discovered is that it is a choice. You are the one in control of how you spend your time, and some folks will continue to stare into the blue-light abyss or wear ear buds in perpetuity. But, then they will miss the mourning dove's voice while they pick blueberries. And they won't hear a dragon fly before they turn their head to see it.
I've discovered through my own untethering that I do miss the nuances of the real world if I'm constantly wondering what is happening in other people lives instead of wondering what's happening in my own. If you are constantly watching reels of other people dancing to 15 second sound bytes, then you yourself are not dancing. You are co-opting the satisfaction a dancer is experiencing as they dance. Then, you are hooked into the next video of another person's experience- consuming that too, while never truly experiencing anything at all.
I'd like to see a collective switch from consumers to creators. Or perhaps to at least blueberry pickers. You have to start somewhere.