9/23/13

Shutting It Down . . .

Before you read . . . watch this.



Okay. I still have you? You're here? You're present in the moment? Good.

Let me tell you what irony is (not) . . . me using a digital communication tool to criticize myself for only using digital communication tools to communicate. Let me tell you what is not irony . . . I need to be better.

I mentioned on Facebook last night (I would do and share a screen grab but, well, this would just become parody at that point) but if we are "friends" on Facebook you can go see it and read it that I was considering taking all the apps off my phone and only using it for phone conversations and work e-mail (you could still text me but I would not respond via text and I would discourage people from texting me as part of my response).

This is something I've been thinking about for a while. When you live alone 50% of the time and when you spend six months unemployed and when you spend about 75/day (average) running around Wichita with just your headphones and your thoughts you tend to THINK about being "alone" and the pros and cons of it.

PROS -
  • Lots of time to think about whatever the heck strikes your fancy (clothes, movies, bills, friends, family, boobs, etc.)
  • Lots of time to wonder why you don't spend more time on and with the above (especially the boobs)
CONS - 
  • Ummmmmmm.
  • Welllllll
  • Let me think
There are NO cons to being alone. NONE. Let me pause her to clarify that I don't see ANY overlap between being alone and being lonely. And I don't think people around you prevent loneliness or being (forget feeling - BEING) alone. I was at a Cowboys game today with seven colleagues and nearly 100,000 other people (not including staff, players, etc.) and at one point every. single. person in my group had their face in their phone. Who's alone now? More over there is even LESS than nothing wrong with being with other people. ESPECIALLY people you like/love/enjoy/get value from.

I digress . . . my phone. So here's what I want to do (and this is just a logical continuation down my good-intention-paved path to insanity of quitting social media in general (but I am NOT saying I am doing that here/now - I am saying no more PHONE usage. I can still fire up the laptop and Facebook, Tweet, or blog away if that is how I want to waste (and it is a waste of) my time and energy) is to stop with the phone as my end-all and be-all. I had a colleague at Associated that would not meet with me if I had my phone. I mean for work meetings or to have lunch. My child once hid my phone because I was texting with my colleagues when I should have been playing dolls with her one evening (ONE evening - I'm an engaged parent, I promise). 

Fact: The sum and total I have with my family most weeks is an e-mail I send them every Sunday updating them on my week's activities. My shrink and I compromised on this a year ago. I might text with my brothers here and there and will talk with my parents for a few minutes when they do their weekly Ava calls. I don't put the energy in to more. But I have cleared hundred of levels of Flow Free and I have 40,000 Tweets under my belt. I'm a bore. 

I can't just sit. I can't just enjoy either being with someone or being alone because this stupid little box glows and beeps and shakes and hums. I have had plenty of other strains, blips, crises, and challenges in many other relationships in my life since going "smart phone, dumb owner" so many years ago. The generation before me worried about raising "Couch Potatoes" . . . I worry I am a Cell Phone Dullard. And I don't want my kid to follow me in this regard yet I ration tablet time and give her more minutes on it versus a cash allowance when she does her chores.

Yeah, yeah . . . I get it. I can ignore it. Yep. And I don't have to eat every potato chip that's ever been fried and bagged and I don't have to use every four letter word the world has shared with me and I don't have to be a fine mixture of OCD and ADD. Yet I do, I do, and I am. 

So this goes back to why I started running in June . . . I can control it. I can walk away from it and draw a line in the sand that unless you are my employer or looking for me in a professional context you'll need to actually (gasp) CALL me. Come SEE me. Write me a letter. Whisper my name in to the wind. And if I want or need you - same rules apply.

I don't know that I'll do it. I know that I want to. I know that it will probably mean losing what little shred of touch I have left with people who are digitally "in my life" to begin with - 24 hours ago I got an e-mail from a friend who said she "Only knows (I am) alive because (I) blog daily." - but I have to presume it would be an even exchange. And if I can stop just pulling out my phone and jamming my face in it tomorrow and if I can stop with social media reliance the day after that and if I can spend that time on my mind, my body, my spirit, my relationships, my passions . . . how much better off would I be by next week (Editor's Note: When I reference these things in the context of "days" I mean weeks/months/millennia.)

I'm not sad. I'm not lonely. I'm not alone. I'm not in crisis. I'm not trying to isolate myself. I'm tired of making excuses for why I'm not a better son, brother (in-law), uncle, friend, colleague, etc. etc. etc. and I'm tired of giving my time and energy to crap (like my phone) that doesn't care bout me. For those of you that have evolved past me (congrats on having less knuckle hair, by the way) and can do all these things in "moderation" - goodonya. Truly. 

I hope to someday have shiny, bald knuckles and the ability to just BE but if I don't shake this phone thing . . . I'll certainly never become a better person.