Get The Most Out of Your Device
Updated: Jun 17, 2018
Have you ever counted every step you took while walking? Have you ever judged every gesture you made while talking to a friend? Did it feel like this constant self scrutiny affected your movements and your train of thought?
Did it make you stop and start over?
Did it remind you of this SNL sketch?
I’m pretty sure this very sentence would be incomprehensible if I focused too intently on every single character I typed.
I would be lost in detail instead of focusing on the thought that unifies all characters to create a coherent statement. So to write a meaningful statement I must be mindful, not self conscious. "What is the difference?", someone might ask.
Mindfulness is unifying all elements of existence into one experience. The passage of time, the temperature and weather, the heart rate, the taste and smell and the sounds are one single entity. The feeling of my foot landing on the soft grass is one with the smell of jasmine and then it mixes with the sound of a songbird to create a sensation of presence. All these elements come together to create a delightful sensory soup but in order to make a soup, all ingredients must be skillfully integrated. Otherwise we may as well just eat some raw and unwashed carrot, uncooked potatoes and broccoli with mushrooms and wash it down with some water. That’s not soup!
Obtrusive self consciousness is breaking all the aspects of this singular “soup experience” into countless bits of information - just as breaking this sentence down into separate disconnected characters would likely render it meaningless.
Self consciousness is enabled by our brain’s tendency to compartmentalize and organize our time and space, our meals, our sleep, our health and our social life. It's turning our subjective experiences into pure information. Before the clocks were as precise as they are now, the sense of passing time was more relaxed. We would meet someone at “daybreak”, not fifteen past seven and before we could eat a meal, we would have to first find something. Who knows how long that would have taken! Before the architecture was as complex as it is now, we would meet our friend at the edge of the meadow by the creek, not in the Building #45, Hallway #6, Room #506 on the Mezzanine level. Calendars, clocks, buildings and furniture squeezed us into rigid frames we became dependent on. With technology we are dividing and dissecting our existence even further, braking apart all the functions of our lives. Experiences become data. With our eyes fixed on a screen we check the weather, the calendar, time, stock exchange, heart rate, calorie count, amount of steps, orientation on the map. Countless reminders beep us back into schedule. There is no time for error and no room for spontaneity. We step outside of ourselves to take selfies. All the ingredients of life are now separate and represented as icons on a screen just like characters scattered randomly in a sentence read by a child with dyslexia.
Technology was meant to make our life easier and more organized but perhaps “easy and organized” is a new trap that makes our experience of existing fragmented and detached from “the meaningful sentence”. The devices record our progress, take pictures of our experiences and count our steps for the price of numbness, detachment and anxiety. Apps are the stilts that prevent us from feeling the soft grass under our bare feet and make it much easier to stumble and fall.
My only solution to technology hijacking the integrity of our life's elements would be to not “get the most out of your device” but use it only for things that are really essential, to refrain from taking a picture of that breathtaking sunset next time it happens but instead just to take it all in. It's OK! You don't need a visible record of it. Nobody really looks back at their sunset pictures! Losing that experience to take a footage is just not worth it.
Practicing walks without devices would be another great step on the road to regaining our minds’ integrity. Just around the block is enough.
I will start today.
Enjoy your soup!