However as I look around, I see other connections taking negative impacts as people sit head down, thumbs scrolling, earplugs in, locked into their digital world. Don’t worry, I am aware of the irony of this comment as I sit digitally connected tapping away!
What are those other connections I am referring to? Social connections, family connections, using other forms of communication rather that the “network”.
About a year and a half ago I made the conscious decision to let my smartphone contract lapse. I went back to the good old fliptop. I watched people on the train, scrolling and tapping on their phones head down and not once make eye contact with fellow passengers. They get off the train and still continue. I constantly have to swerve to avoid a thumb tapping collision.
The first stint I spent in Japan was in the the late 80’s and through to the 90’s. People would make eye contact on the trains and smile. They would occasionally be brave enough to make conversation. I decided I didn’t want to be digitally connected 24/7. I now use the time on the train to people watch, think through my plan of attack for the day, read(yes on a kindle), smile at people and be a little more aware of my surroundings especially in terms of being aware of my fellow passengers and being willing and able to offer a seat to an elderly person, a pregnant mum or someone who looks like the need it more than me.
I see people in restaurants, fork in one hand, phone in the other. I’d like to see them appreciate the food, savour it, eat to enjoy, be a little more mindful and thankful to the people who serve it, those who make it and those who produce it. Just take the time to think about all the people and circumstance that connected to get that food on your plate.
I despair for my students sometimes. It seems the digital connection has deprived them with the ability to connect with the eyes. They seem to have lost any connection with nature. Many have a tenuous connection with family as they spend their time constantly online. They rarely leave their rooms.
I am a keen traveler. I often travel alone so enjoy staying in hostels because I get to meet and connect with other travelers, exchange stories, experiences and recommendations. I often pick up new travel buddies. I have made friends and they have subsequently come to stay with me in NZ and Japan. These are very special connections born of shared experiences. In 2010, I noticed a big difference the hostel culture and dynamics. People were spending time in the common areas, not to chat or connect in a personal way but rather to hook into the free Wifi and digitally connect.
I recently had a great week with 3 old friends from high school days. We did a 3 day cycle ride, we laughed and talked and played stupid board games. We did walks and saw a baby calf being born. We saw daffodils and the first flush of spring. We had some nice meals out and cooked together other nights, we checked out antique shops, soaked in hot springs together. We even hooked into the web most days just to check in with the folks and let people know we were have a great time but most importantly we connected as friends, face to face and had a ball.
It is easy to be digitally connected and easy to fall into the habit of letting it become your norm. I find myself looking for a better life balance. Pre-digital days it was a work / life balance we strove for. Nowadays I strive fro a digital / life balance! On my days off I have to remind myself to cut the digital connection and get out do things, try new stuff, meet old friends and make new acquaintances, be connected in a more personal way.
Maybe I am finally growing up and everything is no longer all about me and my needs or maybe I am just becoming that old fuddy duddy!. To achieve balance you need to make decisions and chose to turn the digital connection off and make time for other connections. I am not saying you can’t be online everyday. That would be very hypocritical! I am just mooting that there are many equally important connections out there that we should be mindful of and strive to promote and maintain!
Over and out time to turn this digital connection off and go bake a cake!
In response to The Daily Post’s Weekly Challenge – Connected
Yoroshiku Onegai shimasu