Peace is hard to find in the current state most of us live in. We are constantly connected to devices, with myself as no exception to the rule. There are currently 3 devices sitting near (or on) me. Laptop, iPad, and iPhone. I can be reached by anyone who knows me, and even by people who don’t know me, at any given time during my day. It’s a constant barrage of notifications from Facebook, Twitter, emails, Etsy…it just doesn’t stop.
I have had multiple conversations with people I know about the down sides to the constant connectedness that we human beings currently experience, but I can’t deny there are positives. It is so much easier for me to stay in touch with others via text message since I have always hated having phone conversations. I am able to get updates regularly from family members on Facebook that I haven’t been able to visit with in a long time. I see friend’s career successes and life events (babies! houses! vacations!) social media and am able to celebrate them, even at a distance.
Sometimes, there are major negatives to being so connected. I find myself checking my phone for no reason…it hasn’t gone off, I just want to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I’ve gotten into the bad habit of sending a message (text or Facebook) and checking back later to see if the receiver actually read it. That little check mark or read timestamp is a relief, then annoying if someone hasn’t responded. I like feeling validated when people notice my posts, and often feel a little disappointed when they don’t. When I browse Facebook sometimes, there is a sense that something is missing from my life, as I see friends and family taking vacations, being seemingly happily married, having babies, etc. No one really talks about the fight they just had with their boyfriend, the fact that their kid threw a 30 minute tantrum and they want to pull their hair out, or even that they have massive credit card debt. It’s a constant barrage of other people’s highlight reels, which isn’t necessarily healthy for us, mentally or emotionally.
But even with the obvious down sides, there are different ways that people use social media, and my philosophy has always been as long as you feel good about it, keep doing it. If it drags you down and makes you feel heavy, make a change. If it uplifts you and brings you joy, keep going.
I went to Walden Pond yesterday, the site where Henry David Thoreau wrote his book Walden while contemplating living simply in nature. It was interesting to watch people and how each individual interacted with the pond and surroundings. I watched a guy spending a significant amount of time to take a picture with his phone near the shore. He was bending and crouching at different angles, trying to get the lighting just right, I presume. He didn’t look up for some time.
Personally, I made an effort to experience Walden as much I could, keeping my phone in my pocket and attempting to absorb the surroundings. I wanted to record the moment in my brain, not in the digital universe. I did take a few pictures, but mostly I made note of the warm sun on my skin, of the smells of the water and woods, of the sounds of the birds and lapping of the water, of the light filtering through the clouds, of the conversations and people around me. It was relaxing and peaceful, even surrounded by people. I was not concerned about getting the perfect shot for my Instagram account, and I feel like my day was better for it.
The few pictures I did take, I’ll post here. Mr. Thoreau would not have approved of the first one.