The popular image of a ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ has been recently represented through hordes of cell-phone users being hypnotized by the tiny screens of their cell-phones oblivious to anything around them. A cyborg, or ‘cybernetic organism’ was once the stuff of Sci-Fi fiction, but the reality is now upon us in the presence of the ubiquitous digital zombies staring numbly into their phones and iPods.
I know this sounds harsh, but we are losing a true connectedness ironically through the use of these very technologies that are supposed to keep us connected. The sight of friends or family hanging out together, where each of them is entranced by the luminescent spells cast in glowing, tumbling words and images may yet be the recipe for social disaster. A surrender to a feeble ‘artificial intelligence’ looms that only serves to keep us in a disjointed awareness, without a grounding in the present moment.
As the new year is upon us, it opens an opportunity to reconnect. For some inundated by holiday overload it becomes a reason to retreat even further into the solipsistic space of the digital addiction. But this need not be the case.
I wish to suggest a three day ‘Drop the cell phone’ challenge as a way to reconnect in a more direct way with your friends, family, surroundings and self.
For a period of one to three days, I would propose that whoever feels the pull of the phone, like Frodo’s obsession with the Ring of Power, and is unable to go a day without a constant vigilance on the latest text or Facebook post, could be well served by setting aside the phone (or a computer screen if that is your window).
Try it for a day at first. On that first day, take note of any feelings or cravings to get back to the screen. Go for a walk. Enjoy a cup of tea. Keep the screen off your radar and replace it with more immediate and sensuous experiences.
On the second day, if you feel confident (or even if you aren’t), take note of people in the streets and the places you dwell. Is there anyone with a phone in hand as they walk or wait for a bus? Try to meet people’s gaze, greet strangers with a kind smile. Welcome the feelings of seasonal cheer and reciprocate any joy coming your way.
Okay, you’ve made it this far. If you are feeling the pull-back, give it one more go. This time, listen to the silence or song around you. Retreat to a quiet place and take note of the whispering wonderment that is always surrounding us, but we sometimes let fade from our attention. A child’s spontaneous delight is the key to kingdom. Be kind to yourself and others. If you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back and feel free to share your insights with others, either in face to face or on social media (if you must).
Happy New Year!