Music today is from an instrumentalist called Tony Anderson. He has a number of albums but is more known for his work providing music for films and television. His music is ambient, emotional, and damn near perfect for writing to, able to provide tone without the distraction of lyrics.
I just saw a screenshot a friend of mine posted on facebook. It was an interaction he had on twitter where he tagged a celebrity in a photo he tweeted and the celebrity responded. That itself is telling of where we’re at today. He facebooked a tweet he had with a celebrity. The world is weird and not just because anybody is contactable through social media but because it made me think of how much we give of ourselves into our phones.
It wasn’t even the multiple layers of social media present in the photo that started this thought. It was the notification bar at the top of his image that was almost accidental added when he took the screenshot. It was littered with symbols displaying all the apps and functions that were currently in use on his phone. Tweets were being received, photos were being synced, something was being downloaded, awards were given for playing games, and a multitude of other symbols for things I didn’t know, as well as arrow suggesting there were more symbols that weren’t being displayed because there wasn’t enough space on the notification bar. Then when I scanned across to the symbols on the right – those for bluetooth, wifi, reception etc. – I saw that his battery was almost empty. It seemed like a perfect analogy.
I have felt like my friends phone must right now. Overtasked, overstimulated, overconnected, and running on nothing. Too often I can feel like this. I get it, I want to be productive. I want to connect and play and sync and download. The problem is there’s just too much of it. Too much content waiting at our fingertips that it’s impossible to get through all of it, but our fear of missing out tells us that we must. Articles to read, tv shows to watch, interviews, recipes, music, photos, memes, advice, videos, news, and an endless stream of social media that we can just keep scrolling and scrolling through endlessly in an attempt to get to the bottom of the metaphorical well. Instead we just end up getting lost in it.
The trick, of course, is to know when to log off; but it’s so hard to do. A dead battery is a clear sign that it’s time for a break but instead we just plug in the charger and keep on going. How many of us check our devices as soon as we open our eyes in the morning and how often are their screens the last thing we see at night. I’m as guilty as anyone, which was why seeing the screenshot rocked me so much. It felt like I was looking at a notification bar for myself. It instantly made me want to stop and do nothing until the bar was cleared.
Remembering to do nothing, or at just less things at once, is the hard part. Often I think to myself I’ll log off from whatever I’m doing right after (insert digital activity here). Then that digital activity leads to another digital activity to another digital activity, or three, or four at once, until all the tabs in my brain are open and I’m exhausted and I’ve forgotten that I was going to set aside some time to do nothing. Then I remember again when I lay down to sleep and find myself weary but wired.
So, consider this your reminder, and mine. A reminder to stop, cool down, and recharge quietly. What am I going to do now? Well, first I’m going to post that screenshotted status bar somewhere where I can see it regularly then I’m going to go give my girlfriend a hug and read a book.
Also, because I saw this earlier today and it seemed appropriate here’s a comic from Poorly Drawn Lines