Although I took my Mac Book along to Newport Beach last week, I left it in the case for four days. That’s right – I didn’t look at email, Facebook, Twitter, or any blogs. I read the newspaper with coffee each morning (USA Today was left outside our door), and other than casting a glance at my husband’s I-Pad every now and then, my fingers did not touch a keyboard from Sunday until Thursday.
So what? you’re asking. What’s the big deal about staying off the computer for four days?
For me, it was quite a big deal.
Lately I’ve come to the realization that the computer has become far too important to my ordinary existence. In the weeks leading up to our planned trip to Paris, I was completely fixated on internet news stories related to the strikes and social unrest. Thanks to the World Wide Web, I was able to call up some new sensationalized version of what was going on over there every fifteen minutes if I wanted to .
And boy, did I want to. Those internet reports just fueled the flames of my already smoldering fire – the one of worry, unease, and agitation.
But by the time I got to California – after many frantic emails with my friends who were already over there, and then trading in my Paris airline tickets, booking a hotel, and renting a car – I suddenly realized just how much the internet had influenced my decision. Why, I might never have known about the strikes at all if I hadn’t seen it online.
And it isn’t just internet news…Facebook, Twitter, blogs – I find all of these commanding my attention several times during the day, and I inevitably find myself going down some rabbit hole or other, resulting in major time consumption. At which point I jump up, realize I’m way behind schedule for doing what I was supposed to be doing before I got online, and then scramble around for the next couple of hours playing catch-up.
My computer consumption has started affecting my life and my mental health like a bad relationship. What I seem to have lost is my ability to focus on things that matter without feeling this persistent pull toward the myriad distractions in cyber space. What I crave is a return to simplicity, a greater appreciation for simple times and small pleasures.
My computer and I had a trial separation period during those four days in California, and it felt really good. So I’ve been making a conscious effort to wean myself from the computer. Not give it up completely, but ration my time with it. This is my first time online today (it’s 5:00 pm here), and I’ve been much calmer and more focused on the other tasks at hand.
Sometimes too much of a good thing really is too much.
“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
How about you? How does your relationship with your computer affect your daily life?