Friday, September 12, 2014
My 24-Hour (Virtual) "Moment of Silence"
It's true. Our world is getting (virtually) smaller and smaller. 24 hour news and social media put us into direct contact, and often conflict, with those we'd never meet or even be aware of otherwise. In virtuality, it's possible for us to meet and interact with any/every other human being on the planet; all 7+ billion of them. Are you ready for that?
My 24 hour "moment of (virtual) silence" was pretty enlightening. It allowed me the self-imposed freedom to spend my time and energy on something we may be forgetting to do or consciously foregoing. The lack of virtual stimulation (I also eschewed the 24 hour news stimuli) compelled me to face and interact with only those things that I can touch, i.e. the "real" world. I'm fond of saying that virtuality is real too and, on many levels, it is. Those levels are usually the very most negative and anxiety-provoking; online bullying, for example. But, at least for my generation and older, the tangibles are irreplaceable: gardening, a relaxing day at the beach, walking the dog, doing the dishes, learning to sail. I wonder if because we're spending more and more time in virtuality, are the conventional stimuli to our bodies being sacrificed for greater and greater levels of stimuli to our brain? If so, what's the saturation point?
Since declaring my intent to observe a 24hour moment of virtual silence (conceived with my "boonie" hat covering my face while sprawled on a beach chair in the sand at Perdido Key, by the way), I have freed my body (and mind) to reminisce about times gone by. A sunny drive in the convertible, cleaning and prepping a bed in storage for introduction to its new guest room home, doing the dishes, doing the laundry, yardwork, finalizing plans to purchase and enjoy a sailing dinghy, listening to classical music on the RADIO (yes, radio!) and allowing myself the mental freedom to be immersed in all without the insistent tug of a PED. It feels nostalgic, familiar and a little bit romantic. Are Gen-X, Gen-Y and Millennials as comforted by the mundane, the quotidien, as the Baby Boomers and older seem to be? Has my generation robbed its progeny of the ability to enjoy drinking water from a spring, catching lightning bugs, picnicking on a mountaintop, removing bats from the cabin, hunting 4-leaf clovers, etc? If so, are there generational equivalents? Video games and chat rooms?
I realize that I'm probably asking the same questions that eons of humanity have asked when they reach "a certain age", curious about the motivations and dubious about the chances of those who follow. But OUR generation is seeing those changes at "warp speed", aren't we? The innovations of the last half-century eclipse those of the previous few millennia in terms of wow factor and individual empowerment. Is the brain ready?
I don't know the answer. And the not-knowing scares me more than a little. Perhaps a touch more yardwork will yield a clue! I know this much, my general feeling of anxiety today is much, much less than yesterday. That can't be just a coincidence.