We live in a world of screens and gadgets. You can sync your music to about seventeen different places, save something on your iPad and pick it up later on your laptop, walk in the the Apple Shop and you’ll get a message on your phone, welcoming you to the store.
Technology is glorious and always moves in leaps and bounds. Mostly it’s great. At the click of a few buttons you can learn about ANYTHING you so desire. You can access recipes, news, do your shopping, chat to your friend in Thailand, apply for University, read about string theory, or watch a compilation of ‘The 50 best Cat Faces – EVER!’
I love the internet. I love Facebook. I’ll advocate Twitter. I use the internet to share things with friends (including this blog) and to talk about the work I’m doing, and have been fortunate to get many jobs in the past through social media. It’s also handy having my smart phone – I can respond to emails quickly. In my line of drama-facilitation work, a company will often email out upcoming jobs to all of their staff and whoever responds quickest gets the work, which is why having constant access to the internet is not only wonderful, but vital to my survival in this industry.
Nowadays you just have to look around the commuter train carriage in the morning and every single person has their head down and is engaging with their technology. Reading papers, playing Candy Crush, texting, even working on their way in to the office. I avoid this train if I can. There’s nothing worse that being hip to arse, shoulder to shoulder, elbow to stomach and eyeball to eyeball with strangers, especially when NO-ONE engages in any form of conversation whatsoever.
All of this technology is wonderful, it truly is. BUT, from time to time, I think it’s imperative that we step away from it. Switch it off and switch ourselves on. I have days where I take a train out to the countryside and switch my phone off on arrival, if I miss out on work – so be it. At least I’m not missing out on the here and now. Sometimes if I’m going out for dinner I’ll leave my phone at home, or turn it off in my handbag. I’m getting better at doing this too. because every moment we’re engaged with our technology, we’re disengaged with those around us, perhaps not entirely, and it’s not always a bad thing, but freedom away from time to time is refreshing.
Because there is a freedom that comes with disconnecting. If I turn on my laptop, my world suddenly expands, I am connected to almost every part of the planet. I see and despise the work of internet trolls. I bear witness to horrific ways in which the world is not yet equal, or fair. I come up against the trivial and the superficial. I’m connected to the media – images of women air-brushed within an inch of their lives. I am continually presented with perfection I will never obtain (nor necessarily want to, but it’s there, niggling at me.) Adverts ping up in my side bar, reminding me that I still have so far to go before my life is ideal, and then another bout of articles on the sexism epidemic infect my newsfeed.*
If I turn off my laptop, it’s just me, and my two housemates, and our one cat in our three bedroomed apartment in Croydon. It’s whatever we’re having for dinner, accompanied by whatever we’re choosing to talk about – and when we downsize our world in that way, it makes it all a little bit simpler, even if only for an hour. It’s all still out there when we go back and we can pick up the battles we were having, the things we were learning, the music we were listening to, or the news articles we were scouring. Enjoy those quieter moments away when you can. The internet is a version of life – an extension, it’s not real, real life. Check in to the tangible world, just once in a while.
*And I don’t mind any of this stuff, because I want to fight for a fairer, better world, but being bombarded with all of this constantly is exhausting!