Cold Turkey

Cold Turkey and I’m not talking about the turkey in the freezer, waiting for a special supper. I’m talking cold turkey, the event in my life for the past ten days ((due to technical difficulties it’s actually been more than two weeks since I initially wrote this)).

I have in the past given up chocolate and beer, both seen as empty calories really, but this time it has been something different. For me the concept has been coming for a while but recently a morning blurb on CBC Radio highlighted an issue in my life. So I delved deeper and watched the Marketplace episode called  Are You Addicted to Your Phone? . Trust me, this is worth 22 minutes of your time.

I saw in the show, myself,  with the constant cycling from one social media app to the next one. The never-ending stream of new feeds in all my loops; scanning for information and not wanting to miss anything. The tech companies are competing to keep us on their sites for marketing purposes. They are influencing our brains, emotions and behaviours without our ever being aware of it.

In July on #MyCanadaDay150 I poached my cell phone in the pocket of my rain jacket. I was out of the loop for a few days and realized how much time I spent on it. I can say it doesn’t rule my life but if I uploaded the device that tracks time spent I think I’d be appalled. I’m very productive at home and only check it on breaks at work. I set it aside easily when loved ones and friends are around. But I also reach for it as my camera,  alarm clock, fitness recorder and my work schedule and ….. but the truth is I spend a lot of time with it. I blog and read blogs, I connect via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. So truly it never seems very far away. I have restricted myself to absolutely no use between 11 pm and 6 am even if I have wicked insomnia because I have read the reports of the havoc it causes with sleep cycles and I struggle enough without adding that element in.

Recently during a difficult period I was having trouble writing. That, tied along with a couple of comments about how everyone knows what I’m up to, made me really stop and think about the use of social media. I don’t post what I had for supper or that I am running late again but obviously I post enough that people feel they have adequate info about me and don’t need to ask how I really am. Key in the Marketplace episode and I feel like I’m in the deep end, not connected even when I am connected.

Which leads me to a poll which I created inside the blog post called Mixing it up a Little. A social experiment so to speak. It had, from my point of view, very interesting results. Let me share why.

First off the blog post was read 46 times and yet the poll only had 7 responses. The time to read and do the poll rounds out to about 7 seconds. Yet only roughly 15% of the readers responded which seems like a particularly low rate of return for something that is quick, simple and easy to do.

The poll asked two questions about potential reasons. The first question was about why I was struggling to write. The red herring option about having nothing left to write about    garnered more votes than anything else. The real reasons, sad and tired, got none. The other options about being a sandwich generation grabbed a few votes. The other question is about why one would or would not leave a comment. The answer to this one did not surprise me at all. The most responses was that people like to read but keep their thoughts to themselves although one lovely person did leave me a comment stating how much she likes reading my blog.

Which turns me inward towards my writing and blogging. The house blog (www.1918eatonseager.wordpress.com), which is a diary of our progress, and the daily haikus lead me into a personal blog where I challenged myself to write daily. I’ve always had a love of words but is that why I write now? Or do I write for the stats and the comments and the invisible connection? Because it is quite invisible. Social media has made us more connected (hey I mean who doesn’t want to look at travel pictures) but are we actually becoming more disconnected through our increased uses of personal devices?Our parents were warned about too much television being bad for their children. Will the next generation of parents even realize how bad personal device time is for themselves let alone their children?

I’ve gone cold turkey because I’ve been away from my usual source of easily accessible internet. This has cut my ties to social media and put me out of the loop. Which begs the question: what will I return to? I had, in July, shut off all notifications from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Should I be like one or two of my young friends and nix my Facebook account? Will I stop sharing quite so many photos on Instagram because it makes me look like a floucy even if I do it because it’s a wonderful creative outlet. Nix  Twitter because I still don’t “get it” and it seems like a waste of time? I did that to Pinterest a couple of years ago. It sucks you in to a vortex of a “perfect” world that is hard to replicate in real life. I had, very briefly, SnapChat, but never returned the app to my new phone because I couldn’t get into the filters.

A friend my age suggests that social media is used differently for our age group than the younger age groups. It’s perhaps like they use it to replace real interactions with cyber ones. We use it more to supplement our face to face but even that can suffer when we forget to focus on the person we are with and spend more time looking at our phone than looking at each other.

I had an honest conversation with a friend of mine who seems to have escaped most of the social media connections. Her time is spent more altruistically and on a deeply connected level to everything that she does. She was traveling with friends and one of her group connected with someone via Tinder. His phone also buzzed constantly with Bumble conversations. This defied her scope of a relationship and connections. The number of people connecting via on-line is growing and isn’t necessarily restricted to the millennial generation.

Which brings me to the crux of the entire matter. The endless loop of social media and what “we” are addicted to. Because I am 100% certain I am not alone here but just rather more visual in giving an opinion and documenting my thoughts about this and other issues.

I suspect, as with everything else in life, there is a balance to be achieved.

Between the fact that I like to write and know that people do seem to enjoy reading it, I will go onward.

Bernie

PS I’ve been having word press issues for about 10 days and just finally solved it. It’s interesting to note that no one even seemed to notice my absence or if they did never reached out to see why so maybe I am writing more for myself.

PPS Social media certainly has down sides. One hears about cyber bullying and stalking. The power is real and can be unseen until the attack comes. It can happen closer to your own home that you’d think. Being behind a screen seems to shield these people and they say things you wouldn’t probably say to the recipient face to face. Check out comments on any controversial news feed and see the amount of venom that is spewed out. Moral of this — apply the golden rule.

Equipoise Lost 

Sometimes in the midst of chaos there is great beauty. The question is can we stop and recognize it. I think that all the great philosophers must have been gardeners. It gives one time to ponder and draw parallels. 


As I grapple with some chaos in my life I am reminded that it’s all about balance. Madly off in all directions with no moderation at all doesn’t allow for equipoise. We all need to build in a daily reminder of gratitude. Then we can sort through the issues and figure out priorities while always keeping our core values staring at us. 


I found 5 Vimy Ridge memorial poppies amongst the 2′ tall weeds. Helps bring perspective and balance. 

Bernie 


Ten Twisted to Twelve 

A year ago I wrote a A Twist of Ten  and reflecting back on it makes me add a couple more to make the number a twisted twelve.

  • 11. Live within your means as you never know when your job status might change. Trust me on this. Give your best but don’t give them everything.
  • 12. Really appreciate life as its fleeting; many are taken far too young. Don’t wait for things to be perfect. Perfect is an illusion.

Hug lots, laugh a lot, reach out and touch those you care about and for your body’s sake keep moving.

Bernie