Today i did something that a year ago was unimaginable. I disconnected from social media. I was one who could have definitely benefitted from a 12 step program or an intervention by concerned friends. I was an addict. Somehow I accepted the belief that it was possible to have 699 well meaning friends. I am not angry or hold any ill feelings towards facebook even as it usurped a large part of my waking life. It did allow me to connect with people I had not seen for many years. However there comes a time when too much input is not good for a brain. Was it really that important to know what my friends had for dinner or what fancy restaurant they were visiting? Did I really need to get a blow by blow account of vacations and did I need to share mine? Did I not have enough to handle in my own life without adding other’s drama? There is no arguing that technology does not have its advantages as so much has changed and there are many of us walking around that would not be here had it not been for the marvel of medical technology. However, there is a price to pay and more of us are coming to the realization that increased technology brings increased isolation. What was designed to bring the world closer is pushing us further apart. Instead of reaching for our partners in the early morning hours, we are now reaching for the computer. We are hiding our minds and our hearts behind a screen and losing an important piece of our soul.
I am sitting in a coffee hut in a small town in Cuba. I watch as a little boy dressed in his sunday best looks up at me as I write. I watch the local people talking over drinks or just sitting with loved ones in the park. I watch a young father take a break from work to kiss his wife and cuddle his young son. Wi-fi has found its way here too as evident by the crowds gathered around a certain spot. However, the need to walk and the cost of a wifi card helps keep it in perspective.
In the Western world we have lost our way. With so much advancement and increased quality of life, more of us are lonely and sad. Anti-depressants to keep us from feeling and pills at night to help us sleep are the prescription of the day and any substance in between to take the edge off. This is not to downplay the necessity of certain medications to treat legitimate forms of mental illness and their use has made the difference in many people’s lives.
For many, this is a time of reckoning. It is a time for deciding what is real and what really matters. I depart social media and I begin to hold out for my true friends. The ones I can call in the middle of the night when the demon won’t let me go. The ones who i can touch and hug and know for sure they have my back and I theirs. I now seek a real life with all of the rawness, life, joy and pain and all the other crazy wonderful things that come with it. For me, a plastic material world is a plastic material existence. We are being called into something more.