Trying to cut the chatter in our busy lives is near impossible. There are so few times that we are ‘off’ and for me there is a constant white noise keeping me company. There are very few moments in my day when I am not in some way having a conversation of some sort with someone – or multiple people. In a five minute period I could be speaking in person with someone (or some people) while answering phone calls, listening to voicemail messages, sending SMS messages, Skyping someone, sending photos via MMS, answering and sending Facebook messages.
And at the same time, it’s possible that I’m taking a photo of my coffee, updating my Facebook status (This coffee is awesome!) and sending a tweet or two (Great coffee from new café in Melbourne’s inner-North) all while adding the picture to Instagram.
There is no silence in there. No gaps.
This last week, I’ve taken a step away from some of the noise in an effort to try to find some calm. With my eyes still not one hundred per cent, simply grabbing my phone, swiping to awaken it and checking Facebook, Twitter, email, SMS messages etc. is not so simple anymore. Glasses need to be located and put on and then I can start. It’s not as instant anymore. And because of that, the habit is slowly, but surely changing.
It took the better part of the week to deprogram myself.
I’ve realised that this is something that needs to be done consciously. Yesterday, at lunch at an outdoor café with a large group of friends, I looked over to where our kids were sitting on the ground in the shade. There were about 12 of them, all gorgeous, fit, sun-kissed kids who are more than capable of holding a conversation. And they were sitting in a row, not conversing, not playing, not teasing and joking with each other. No. They were all looking at their own iDevice. Totally enthralled and engaged. Just not with each other.
As someone who is permanently attached to my iPhone (seriously, if I had to make the choice between life-saving-insulin-delivery device and I-can-connect-to-the-whole-wild-world-all-the-time device, it would be a difficult decision) I am certainly not saying that technology is the end of civilisation. I’m not demonising our connectedness and if the truth be told, being able to reach out and ‘see’ someone from the DOC at any time is incredibly reassuring to me.
But is it the end of the world if I don’t know that the New Yorker Facebook page has just updated its status with a new cartoon? (Probably not, but this one is hysterical!) And really, even though it can be incredibly frustrating if I can’t remember the name of an actor in an episode of Breaking Bad, it will not kill me if I don’t IMDB the answer straight away!
So – I’m trying something new (as promised earlier). I am going to try to detox the constant chatter from my life. It’s not about going cold turkey, deactivating my Facebook page and leaving the Twitter community. It’s about boundaries. It’s about giving attention to the people I am with at any given time. But more than that. It’s about giving myself time. And space. And silence. Because sometimes, the answers are found there.
Just after I wrote this piece, I read this Huffington Post blog. I totally get it!