Digital Insanity


Recently, my wife and I discussed technology and not being in the moment. I was asked how long I could go without my internet-connected phone or computer? Am I addicted to social media, constant updates, and instant validation?

I was told I’m short, angrier, and distracted. It made me question if technology has made everyone more selfish, self-absorbed, and anti-social? Are we less aware of the world around us? Have we lost true intimacy with others?

Her observations on my behaviors shed light on how I’ve been for the last several weeks, which is to say, not in the moment and definitely in my little world. I let external things dictate my mood, and I was called out on my disconnectedness.

The discussion reminded me of something I had saved a while ago. Spoken-word artist Richard “Prince Ea” Williams has a pretty cool video addressing this very problem.

“I’m so tired of performing in the pageantry of vanity and conforming to this accepted format digital insanity.”

Our choices define us. It’s a choice to constantly be on the computer or the phone and not in the moment. My brother-in-law likes to use the phrase, “Look at your life, look at your choices.” He says it in a joking manner much of the time, but it’s also a good step when evaluating one’s actions.

We make choices all the time about how we react to the world around us. Do we retreat? Do we keep our heads down and our eyes on our phones, or do we make a point to pay attention?

Again, I’m reminded of another video. Author David Foster Wallace was asked to give the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. This is Water made an impression on me, but I haven’t listened to it in a couple of years.

This video adaption illustrates the essential point of his speech: you get to make a choice. He advocates switching off the default settings focusing on how unfair everything is. He asks everyone to take control over their thoughts to be more aware and, in turn, well-adjusted and less selfish.

Finding happiness is often a choice to be happy. I’m constantly accused of being a “glass is half-empty” kind of guy, and I get asked repeatedly why I can’t be more positive. It’s a choice, and I plan to try and make some positive choices in my life.

I will actively choose who my friends are on social media. My default setting was to friend people I used to be friends with, old work buddies, high school friends, college friends, etc.

Now, I’m going through my Facebook friend list and deciding just who I want to see in my feed regularly. Better yet, I have found a way to remove the feed itself. I want to surround myself in my digital world with intelligent, interesting people I like and respect. Anything else adds stress.

I’ve already culled my Twitter follows, but my default has been to have it up constantly. Evaluating my addiction, I’m using it under the guise of learning what’s going on in the world but, I’m just distracting myself. Plus, rarely does checking my feed add one ounce of happiness to my life.

Focus is important. I need to focus on my family first and the rest of the world via technology a distant second. I get distracted far too quickly. I need to focus on what matters. Focus is also a choice.

Choosing the right path is the ultimate decision.

Let’s choose to be mindful, present, and happy. I bet we get a ton of creative work done.

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