Disconnect to Reconnect

Standing at the end of 2018, with 2019 coming up on the horizon, I look back and see what a difference a decade has made. Technology, social media and the way we communicate have changed at breakneck speed.

The apps that I know off, and do not use, are probably already outdated by the time this goes to press. My teenage daughter told me quite seriously that Facebook is for older people, by which I suspect she meant people like me. (There and then, that could have triggered a mid life crisis!)

Apparently, Instagram is where all the world is at, and of course, Twitter my own favourite is the go-to for everything in bite-size commentary. There are of course, many more apps and ways to communicate, and new apps are probably being launched as I write, though I would probably be the last to hear about them.

When my teenage daughters talk amongst themselves, often I hear words, expressions and songs for the first time. When I text my daughter to ask how the exam went, and receive a reply saying, tbh idk, I am perplexed. Do I google that? Do I ask her what she meant? Is this language some sort of code? What happened to writing a sentence? Why can’t they spell it all out? Why must we speak in acronyms? Surely writing a sentence can’t be that hard?

Oh, yes, sentences, are okay, she mused, but just remember ma, not to put a full stop. That is considered you know, impolite in texts. Just saying.

Right, so, let me get this straight, I said, if I send a text, and it is not punctuated, remember I didn’t fail Grammar 101, I am simply trying to be polite. Or, something like that? I almost felt like using an emoji to express my cluelessness.

This is all really far too complicated. I still remember the first mobile phones, somewhere back in the late 80s, early 90s. They were something one had heard off and sometimes sighted, a bit like the Loch Ness monster. Paktel had those wonderful brick size mobile phones, the ultimate status symbol of their time. Back then, phones were just that, phones. And calls were expensive, and later so were texts and I remember waiting at many a PCO as a student, to make a 3 minute call home. There was usually one phone in the house, with various extensions loped off wires here and there, and if the phone was busy, one just kept on ringing. And if the queues at the PCO were too long, then too, one just kept on waiting.

And today, gone are the PCOs and phone booths. In fact, phone booths are relics of the past, useful backdrops to take a picture. Communication can take place in so many new forms, texts, likes, whats apps, DM’s to name a few. This seamless interconnectedness is at once unifying, and collapses space and time and yet, it’s a new form of communication, short, brief and fairly impersonal. It’s so easy to like a post, share a quote or forward an article. Increasingly we connect to the world through our screens and yet and for all its advances, technology can still not replicate the essence of human connection.

Some cafes no longer offer wifi and insist that their patrons put their phones aside and speak to each other! Of course, with content being uploaded and downloaded every second to our phones and hence to us, there is a stream of data that is so overwhelming that we find it hard to disconnect. After all, how can I disconnect, I have at least twenty thirty saved links to articles I still have to read and the number goes up by the day.

I am so grateful that I grew up without the internet and without a phone. We lived and laughed fully unaware, oblivious of anything outside our world. What is taught today in mindfulness classes came naturally to us as the only way to be.

And even today, I feel that the richest moments happen off line, the real conversations happen in the moments we least expect them, that taking the time to be fully present is the essence of connection. Where once mindfulness was considered something a bit alternative, a bit out there, a bit of a new age concept, it is now becoming a mainstream phenomenon, one that is being incorporated into large corporations and Montessori’s alike. And in essence, it focuses on becoming aware, present, and alive in the moment as it happens, suggesting we disconnect to reconnect.

And in case you are wondering, tbh idk is to be honest, I don’t know. Which really didn’t take that much more time to write out, after all.

 

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