Saturday, June 16, 2012

Some thoughts......

The storm seems to have missed us here - there has been some rain and a lot of wind, but nothing spectacular so far. I have moved all the pots with small delicate things to the sheltered side of the garden in an effort to minimise any damage, and now I keep forgetting they are there and nearly trip over them as I prowl the perimeter. The wind is wild right now.

However, you may breathe a sigh of relief because I am not going to chat about my garden (today). No. We are going to talk about technology. It is now 19 days since I last had a working phone and I am a basket case. I say that objectively. I was on my way to aqua a couple of days ago alone, and half way there I nearly had a panic attack when I realised I had no way of communicating with anyone on me. Jean was at work, Glynis in hospital and me on the dual carriageway. How times have changed,.

Putting aside the fact that I need it with me for safety reasons, especially after cartwheeling out of my front door a while back, I seem to have become way way too dependent on technology. Phones. Computers. Other gizmos. I also realised that without my phone, I have no alarm clock in the house. How ridiculous is that. Phone numbers? On the phone. I toss out the Yellow Pages the day it arrives because I can get much more up to date information on line. Birthdays? On the phone. Appointments? On the phone. Photos? On the phone. Or the computer. Or the external hard drive - another techy thing.

Books? On a Kindle. Maps? On an iPad or phone. I do not possess an iPad or a Kindle (yet) (dreams are good) . Notes? On a phone or iPad. Maps? On a satnav. Tickets? On your phone or laptop or iPad.

And so it goes.

So 19 days without my phone have been uncomfortable ones. I have recently come across some very thought provoking articles on the web re technology. One a few weeks ago highlighted the fact that older Mums have a distinct advantage over younger ones in general (not specifically) because there were no techno gadgets around to distract one back in the dark ages. I am in no way saying that the old times are better, because they were different times. But here is just one thing which struck me. When I fed my babies, I interacted with them all the time. Maybe there was some music in the background, or, by the time the 2nd and 3rd were around, more probably the din children create, aka WW3. They were, however, live bubbling, noisy human beings. I didn't have the distractions of the iPhone, the iPad, the laptop back then.

Good grief, when my oldest son was born, video players had not been invented.

So the temptation to use feeding time as a way to catch up with the world out there did not exist. Just as well, because I am quite sure I would have been hooked up/on line/ typing away. Instead of playing with my baby's feet, and whispering stories and words to him/her. Making constant eye contact. Loving. Stroking, marvelling at the softness of the skin. Focus centred on the little one. Interacting.

And then I read an article and watched a video yesterday of a talk by a psychologist about what has happened to our boys. Especially the boys. How the computer, the games, the playing on line has taken the place of learning to socialise slowly in real life - how relationships are so lopsided because the Internet offers instant gratification. Success. And how this has interrupted the learning and social skills of  whole generations of men/boys, who are at a loss when it comes to dealing with real live girls/women and a real live world, where things take time and where life and relationships take hard work and develop slowly.  Everything you do in a game is within your control. Even time. Real life is not like that. Most certainly not. There is huge international concern about the boys to men development change at the moment.

The good and the bad. There are always opposite sides to a coin, aren't there?

But for every day you are entranced by a small screen with a touch pad or mouse or tracker pad attached, remember that these are days/hours/moments you will never get back again. Don't waste them in a virtual world. Take a step back into  the real world.

The Internet can stop you from becoming content in your own skin, you see. You can re-invent yourself as many times as you like. You can forget the irritations of life. You can step into a virtual world. Be invincible.

But a virtual world will not give you hugs or catch you when you fall. Nor will it be the bride or groom standing next to you. The virtual me doesn't feel or weep real tears. The real me does.

From the dawn of the blogging age - and I was here back then - we kept our real selves separate from our on line selves. Often blogging under different names. Never saying where we lived. Hiding photos of ourselves. And slowly that has changed for a great many of us over the years. The advent of Facebook combined with the blogging world and all of a sudden All Was Revealed. Now we all know who we are. Almost all. And so re-inventing one's self is now a great deal more complicated.

By the way, I am in no way saying that the Internet is bad. Far from it. I need it as much as the next person. Maybe more at times. Children need it - a superb learning tool. But using it wisely is the key.


If the WWW is keeping anyone from interacting (with FULL attention) with their loved ones, their friends, their pets, or their neighbours, maybe it is time to re-evaluate and step away. Switch off. Unplug. Totally focussing our attention on the people in our lives and not on that little screen. These 24 hours which make up today will be gone before we know it, and they will never be back again. Precious moments.

So. My phone came back.

I have spent the last 7 hours setting it all back up again. Downloading apps and signing in, out, up the creek and round the bend with everything. My eyes can't focus any more, and no, I did not back it all up on the Cloud because I didn't think I would drop it on its head, did I.


I have done it all manually. 7 whole hours of my life. For what? For knowing I can call someone if I fall over? For being able to be in touch with the world 24 hours a day? To be able to check Facebook and comments here in bed before I go to sleep? More emails?

What the heck am I doing????

The past 19 days, I have had to call people and actually speak to them in person. And this has led to some really interesting and fun conversations. I have called in to see people instead of just texting a message. A novelty. It has been incredibly inconvenient at times, and it takes far more time, but good grief, there have been moments when I have been out and when no-one on earth could have got in touch with me.

The sky, I am happy to report, did not fall in.

(Forget what I said about not chatting about my garden at the beginning. I changed my mind.)

Do you remember back when Facebook was still in its infancy, you could plant a garden. A virtual garden. People gave you plants they bought with coins amassed. A simple garden. I had fun playing that back then. However, I have far more fun, and far more trials and tribulations too, planting my real garden. It takes time, though. I loose patience now and then. I worry about the weather. But would I swap it for a virtual garden of perfection? Absolutely not. That play garden didn't have lily beetle, potato rust, worms, slugs, snails and a host of other things which ate your plants. Nor did it have blackspot and broken branches. It didn't make me wail. It didn't make me mad. It didn't bring such joy at so much beauty that you could cry. My hands are a gardener's hands. My nails are history. I loathe squirrels.

In that perfect garden, I would never have found a rogue courgette plant growing by mistake in a bed of delicate little daisies. Nor would I have found a butternut squash plant in a wall trough of beautiful flowers. (I told you I have clearly lost my mind on occasion while potting up things.)

There is beauty in imperfection.

The jury is still out on the courgette, though. I think its days are numbered.

And I have been chatting far too long. I need to go and walk in the wind outside and see what damage has been done to my garden. The real one. I do believe the words ran away with me today.


Cait O'Connor said...

This is a very interesting and thoughtful post. Thought provoking. People are always amazed that I don't own a mobile phone and have no desire to. People wonder how I manage to exist without one! I hate Facebook. I do love my computer though and of course blogging but I agree with you we must not let it take over from the real world.

Needled Mom said...

I must admit that I seldom use my cell phone, but it is a nice security blanket when I am traveling around.

I worry, too, about the lack of real live communication with all the technology we have access to these days. I am very glad that we did not have to deal with it when raising our children.

Glad to read a bit about the garden. Sorry about the weather!

Anonymous said...

Blogs and Facebook leave me with great unease. Type in your name and a future employer knows everything about you. Naturally people blog, tweet etc about experiences from their own point of view, there is no editors final cut. Publishing information about people without their knowledge or consent can leave you on dodgy ground and I see so many people doing this on Facebook. I am sure it is not intended but at best it is naive. Personally, I like to dissect my life into private and public. Apart from the fact that it is just plain boring to read about what x had for breakfast, what the weather is like (if I wanted to know I'd look out the window surely?) etc.


Vee said...

Count me as one (whom you do not know and never can) who loves it when your words run away. There may have been a tear shed, but I'm not really telling.

someone else said...

Amen to all of it. I think these same thoughts very often and it's a nuisance to me when I have to defend myself as to why my cell phone is not on all the time. It seems I'm not supposed to be unconnected from technology at all. I say - pooh!