I remember a time when my ability to multitask and utilize wasted moments was legendary. I could get more done in the minutes I consumed my first cup of juice from the blessed caffeinated bean by jumping on the internet to check my mail and maybe pay some bills or balance a checkbook than many others could during their whole day of activity. I was a goddess of industry! I was the queen of time management! I was… you get the idea.
What happened to those days?!? Let me paint you a picture, a “for instance” if you will. Eyes open (voluntarily or completely at the sadistic will of my alarm), I stumble down for my first life-giving cup of coffee. It is, if the timer worked correctly, blistering hot as it probably just finished brewing. I give a testing sip and… yep, set that down for a minute to avoid injury to the delicate tissues of tongue, gum, and palette. I take my cup over to my laptop and open it up. After typing in my password, I open a browser and start the morning. This may also occur using my smart phone, but the general habit is the same. Me, coffee, technology… mmmmm good. You have the picture. You might think, “Sounds good so far.” However, here is where the tale begins to shift. Whereas in days gone by, I would check email, pay bills, check bank balances and maybe act as monitor for some various listservs that I managed; now, I seem to automatically sign into social media and game servers. Yes, I’m ashamed to say it. I’m one of those people who play the “time-wasters”. And that title is so apt it hurts.
I can even rationalize the behavior to myself. I’ll just play through my 100 minutes while I drink my coffee and get myself prepared for the day. I’ll just check my newsfeed for important updates from friends, family, coworkers, and such. I’ll make sure I’m not forgetting someone’s birthday… and while I’m at it, let me just sign into the zombie game and get my rewards for the day’s goals. What was that quiz? Wow, I was an otter in a previous life?!? Who knew? Oh, and I might as well play the hidden object game and get my daily reward for clicking into my addiction. Oh, the timer ran out on the quest, click on the next one. Ok… I’m just gonna WHOA!!! How did it get to be 1:00PM?!?
This is obviously a weekend scenario, but you get the idea. I used to do things with my life. I went outside. I read books. I was actually a voracious reader and usually was reading about four different tomes at the same time along with professional journals for new scientific finds and best practice models. I was a writer… obviously to some extent I still am, but I mean writing papers for assignments, dissertations, theses, scientific journal articles, poetry, and personal journal. I at one point in my life was artistic. I created things. I played music, I sketched, and I used a camera with a certain amount of skill. (Lately, the most impressive photography I’ve done is with my smartphone.) On the more mundane side, I cleaned my house regularly, instead of the pre-company-flight-of-the-bumble-bee-dusting dance. I used to spend my time interacting with people, not zombies and clickbait articles. What the heck happened to me?!?
It seems these days I can’t seem to read more than the 140-some odd characters of a tweet or the regurgitated malarkey handed down in oversimplified form from the various online rags that provide their enticing links on the margins of the social media screen. As for writing, you witness here the majority of my prose that isn’t work-related and full of excessively poor grammar due to the time constraints placed upon the response. The truth is that communication requires thought. Well, let me rephrase that. Communication should involve thought. I think we have all seen a good deal of evidence to support the contrary of my first version of that statement. Significant communication should actually provoke a bit of thought, as well. So, when did I become this moronically clicking imbecile who no longer has time to contribute to a better life for myself? When did I become so attached to the technology that holds me captive and makes time pass without notice or accomplishment. I feel like the computer sucks all of my activity away while I sit there passively staring at it.
The sad part is even things that I need to do on the computer: Writing, researching, general maintenance? That stuff ends up getting thrown by the wayside while I click away at pointless games or get sucked into Wikipedia’s connected links of information. Before I know it, a whole day is wasted and I have accomplished nothing that I’d planned. The truth is that I let myself get sucked in, and I need to take active measures to unplug. That’s right. Me, Myself… I need to unplug from the computer, phone, television and go do something analog, involving physical activity. I’m a full grown woman, but I need to set limits like I would for a child on my computer time. AND since I spend a large portion of my day working on a computer, I really need to cut my time spent staring at the box of static images and text even more than perhaps for someone who spends their days in a less logged in occupation. I need to spend more time with books again, they have missed me, I’m sure. I need to go outside and see light not produced by electronics.
So, my brothers and sisters, prisoners in Potatoland, if you are experiencing lost time, unexplained lethargy and plummets into the various wormholes of social media, Wikipedia, and time-wasters; look for a safety line… it might look like an off switch. It might look like a window with sun shining outside. It might look like a familiar face that you haven’t seen in a while and might like to spend some time with in actual conversation. Set a timer for your computer activities, shut it down, and spend some time with any activity that doesn’t require a charger or power source.