Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Quiet (unplugged) World

"In an effort to get people to look 
into each other’s eyes more, 
and also to appease the mutes, 
the government has decided 
to allot each person exactly one hundred   
and sixty-seven words, per day. 

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear   
without saying hello. In the restaurant   
I point at chicken noodle soup. 
I am adjusting well to the new way. 

Late at night, I call my long distance lover,   
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.   
I saved the rest for you. 

When she doesn’t respond, 
I know she’s used up all her words,   
so I slowly whisper I love you 
thirty-two and a third times. 
After that, we just sit on the line   
and listen to each other breathe."
--The Quiet World by Jeffrey McDaniel 

When I was younger, in some fuzzy area of my life that existed before the right now, I read that poem. It stuck with me, just another small, glittering thread in the tapestry of stories that I carry around with me. It is a tapestry woven from childhood, flipping through the threads is like flipping through my life at high speed. There's Where the Red Fern Grows, a book I read eleven times, keeping track by secretly marking my second grade desk. There's the unnamed novel I read in junior high which, in part, started me down this crazy trail of physics. There's In the Time of the Butterflies, a novel that took my breath away in 12th grade.

There's 1984, a novel I read purely because an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation was inspired by it. There's Catch-22 a novel I trudged through, though love to reference now that the arduous process of actually reading it is over. 

Growing up, I lived my adventures through the flipping white pages of library novels-- the bigger the better. When life seemed boring-- when reality was merely humdrum, literature promised the impossible, a crisp dive into a universe that was refreshingly different. 

Books have unique powers when we are young; they leave impressions on us like marks on drying clay, which, once hardened to adulthood, is no longer so malleable. Surrounded by the marks of adulthood, jobs to do, apartments to clean, pets to take care of, it would seem that books would still provide a trusty refuge yet I read startlingly few books now. 

But why? What changed? Why do so many unread, promising, I'll-get-to-it-someday books sit quietly in my bookshelves?  

 Books haven't changed. Certainly I've changed in many ways but my love of books remains strong. Last Christmas break I spent two days in WWII Germany and France jumping through years and lives, devouring a six hundred page novel.

But that was Christmas break-- a time with few things pulling at attention-- maybe that's what has changed. When I was younger-- even up to college-- I didn't spend much time on Facebook, I didn't have a Twitter, Snapchat didn't exist, I barely knew what YouTube even was, and would stare blankly at you if you so much said the world Tumblr. Today, though, the story is different. I have five hundred Facebook 'friends', over a hundred YouTube subscriptions, an Instagram feed I'm proud of, and somehow a Tumblr blog/profile/thing (I'm still not 100% sure how Tumblr works). 

I have free time to read-- that's not the problem. The problem is how I'm (unconsciously) prioritizing my time. Time is a precious commodity, one that I throw by the handful at social medias. I watch YouTube videos I love...and then spend an hour lurking around watching videos I'm not even interested in. I learn about exciting events in my friends lives on Facebook...and then I scroll on for thirty minutes for no good reason. 

Obviously social media isn't a Bad Thing-- it's just a thing, a tool that we can use for great purposes (I saw this fascinating video on YouTube about defining the flow of time with respect to changes in entropy) or use it to mindlessly pass the time (I really could get all the useful info from Facebook by just going on once a day...not once an hour). 

But if time is such a precious commodity, then maybe I should be more mindful in how I spend it-- thus my first 'no media' day today (I scheduled it in my bullet journal so you know it's official). For just one day a week, I resolved to stay off of Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/YouTube/Tumblr-- you get the idea. 

There is so much more that I want to do-- during the month of November I engaged in a crazy competition to write a 50,000 word novel and was struck with the disconnect between my love of writing and my complete lack of writing. What books are going unread, what words are going unwritten, as I overspend my time on the internet? 

Even now I itch to switch over and skim Facebook, not for really any reason except it's what I'm used to doing. Habits are unconsciously ingrained and are difficult to consciously overwrite. For now I will stick to my once a week absence from social media and see how I can more consciously spend my time.

Maybe soon I'll be able to say I am adjusting well to the new way. 

Until then, thanks for reading. 

1 comment:

  1. Superb explanation & it's too clear to understand the concept as well, keep sharing admin with some updated information with right examples.Keep update more posts.

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