Connections

The digital world facilitates connections. Someone half a planet away can quite easily find you if you’re both somewhat public about announcing your mutual interest in a shared topic. New tools, platforms, services.. They all exist to make these connections easier, automated, and more transparent.

Yet they all facilitate virtual space. Even those that promote shared activities like hiking or running groups can also be host to dozens of participants that live too far away from each other to make actual “meat space” connection either impossible, financially improbable, or inconvenient. As the rarity of the time we spend with others in physical space, the more valuable that interaction becomes. Or it should…Yet the majority of social situations are rife with faces illuminated by handheld devices.. Each connected device is a fully user dictated portal to access specifically controlled content. No matter what physical space we inhabit, we can retreat into this screen and have total control – Any lull in the conversation, any discomfort.. All addressed by handheld escape.

What only exacerbates this situation even more is the specialized content that is available through mobile screens. Since it has such complete penetration in the developed world, the social rules that surround it make it a fairly acceptable activity.. Or at very least silently tolerated by all but the most outspoken pundits in most situations that might be much less flexible with other activities.

Of course, everything above that I’ve written is common sense, but still helps set the scene, to illustrate the new “norm” that’s taken hold in as little as maybe 8 or so years…Most of my content always comes back to self control, moderation, balance… Human beings as a species, especially in 1st world countries and civilizations are always seeking the route of minimal effort.. By not being challenged by basic elements of survival, we tend to create alternative stresses and still want to spend considerable time escaping those artificial situations.

are-you-making-the-right-connections

The more time I spend away from other people, the more excuses I’m make to continue to hermit away. Perhaps it’s because my job can be easily accomplished from anywhere with a laptop, but I have to physically force myself to get outside, to get in front of people.  The real kicker is that when I do I realize how much I missed it. How much I need it, how much I thrive in the interaction.

Tonight I had a drink with an old friend. Our parents were social when we were kids, we went to high school together (albeit a year apart, and so there was less academic social mixing)  As we sat and chatted about various tech solutions, and what we’ve been up to for the last decade or so, it was refreshing to be spending time discussing the human element within all these faceless services, tools, and ideas. We didn’t pull out a device once.. And it was glorious!

It’s prompted this rant, and only motivated my writing anew. I have committed to engage in something similar at least once a day, whether it’s seeing my folks, or talking to a stranger at the bus stop.

Try it. Keep your phone in your pocket and say hi to someone new, or make plans to have coffee with an old friend you haven’t seen in ages: you’ll thank me for the suggestion, and perhaps feel as rejuvenated as I do!

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Changes

So it’s confession time. I’ve not been sitting for a couple months now, since getting to my new apartment. I’m definitely missing the positive effects it carries with it, but I still find it incredibly easy to procrastinate even taking ten minutes to myself to just breathe.  For someone like me who is such a fervent supporter of meditation, and a champion of just how many areas of life it changes for the better, I’m almost scared to get back into it again.

Now I’ve written about fear before, but I’ve never experienced it like this. The last few months have led to increased anxiety; what’s the solution? Medication? Moving to Thailand and selling coconuts on the beach? I’ve been looking for answers in all the wrong places: I can easily admit that it’s a common behavior for me.. I’ve been doing it most of my adult life. In fact, it’s become so ingrained that I often find myself following patterns and behaviors where I am in complete awareness of the impending negative outcome.

Am I along for an oblivious ride? Not even.. I am fully  cognizant of the destination to which I am headed. Despite common sense weighing in, prompting me to turn the wheel.. nothing happens. I’ve been trying to understand this repetitive process, perhaps looking for the easy way out, how to stop getting in that car in the first place. There’s a few things that I have identified (and continuing with the automobile imagery)

  1. I take some modicum of comfort in the familiarity of the destination. I’ve been there before, and it’s actually an easy, self-fulfilling processsabotage-your-diet
  2. Steering the car in a healthier direction becomes harder and harder as the journey and time spent in the car increase
  3. Identifying this pattern before it begins, stopping myself from even getting into the car, would probably be the best decision in avoiding these scenarios in the future, but this doesn’t effect any current travels I’m still undertaking
  4. A general sense of self-approval and internal gratification model is woefully absent from my psyche. While this sort of thing is not uncommon (as humans, we all wax and wane on the happiness scale: some controllable, some inevitable), I feel like introducing one at this stage would require far more resources than I have available.
  5. I’m more used to failure than I am success. In fact, so much so that I often sabotage efforts before they begin. Am I afraid, not of change, but of happiness? What on earth has convinced me of something so foolish? (Bit of an epiphany here. Blinking back tears)

There may be more to add, but I’ll stop there so I can continue with my train of thought. Now despite all the history listed above, I don’t live entirely obliviously, without any effort to break the pattern. If you’ve read anything else I’ve posted, you’ll already be acutely aware. I will admit here that perchance I might not work on it as dilligently as I should, or put in the energy and focus that is required to clear results. And here’s a further obstacle pointing to that portion: When I decide to actually implement a positive change in any area, including this one, I am ridiculously inflexible, unbending..there can be no room for error. Obviously this self-imposed stress only exacerbates the situation and I abandon any beneficial changes almost right away

So what now? Where do I go from here? I think I’ve identified a number of things in this post that could use attention. Most of them I’ve known about for awhile, yet there were some revelations as well. I’ll post a follow-up in a couple weeks with updates and (hopefully) a strategy