In uncertain, challenging times, we look for answers. Answers to questions like, “How long will the shelter in place last?” “When will the curve of the coronavirus flatten out?” “Will there be enough ventilators to keep people alive?” “How drastically different will the world look once this is over?”
Having some concrete information helps us get through the daily fog of unpredictability. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel to keep marching toward, a goal to keep our eye on. While another blogger’s post does not answer those particular questions, she does offer Nostradamus’ prediction of the coronavirus. All food for thought I pass along to you too.
A French physician, astrologer, and seer from the 1500’s, Nostradamus lost his first wife and children to the plague. His predictions appear in his book Les Prophéties which was first published in 1555 and has rarely been out of print since his death in 1556. Believers credit him with predicting:
The Great Fire of London
The French Revolution
The rise of Napoleon
The rise of Hitler
World War I
World War II
The nuclear destruction of Hiroshima
The nuclear destruction of Nagasaki
The Apollo moon landings
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
Princess Diana’s death
The 911 attacks
As with the Tao of life, there are believers and non-believers. Believers are asking astrologers if they can indicate when the coronavirus pandemic might end. I like this one astrologer’s response that “Even if something looks obvious it’s how people respond to the factors that makes the difference.” As I like to say, “Take what you like and leave the rest…”
Interesting that the greatest power to reducing the spread of the coronavirus and death count, is closing borders (and our doors). Heated protests over border crossings are quieter now. Political correctness pummeled common sense yet it is our greatest individual defense against the virus. I usually don’t express political opinions on the internet because they invite divisiveness and animosity but the border issue has crossed from political debate to protective measures — for all of humanity.
A one-worlder I am not. Call me a global admirer instead. I celebrate all differences from skin color to climate and believe there is a reason the world and its peoples are diverse, that we should not become blindly and blandly homogenized as some promote. Naturally occurring distinctions in our human race (and nature for that matter) are colorful and lively yet some sadly choose to view them with discrimination or hate.
The Yin and Yang of Humanity
Interacting with people of various cultures is educational, fun and fascinating. The ability to choose an authentic Japanese, Italian, Polish, Indian, or Jamaican meal nearby is a treat. Friends frequently gather at the Tai restaurant, and the Afro-American stand with background Motown beat offers the tastiest ribs in town. I revere the Chinese acupuncturist and Native American healer, and I’m pleased to refer customers to the sanguine Mexican cabinet and granite supplier. The savoir faire of these ethnic groups cultivated enriching relationships with the communities who welcomed them; they continue to flourish through common courtesy.
However, in the last so many years, I’ve increasingly observed non-English speaking immigrants rummaging through items on store shelves then tossing them on the floor, dumping trash on our once pristine streets rather than in nearby bins, and blasting music all night so that residents are exhausted going to work. Such disrespect — whether from citizen, immigrant or illegal — is not welcomed. Seeing others break laws that we abide by breeds discontent. Disrespect creates tension, not our inherent diversities.
And yet, isn’t the pandemic revealing the yin and yang of all of humanity as evidenced through stories of incredible kindness and some of the most unimaginably ugly behavior?
But, intentionally calling the virus something other than it is just to be politically correct, is senseless to me. To understand and learn about something is to identify it. I want to know, for instance, that Roquefort cheese is from France or that the corona virus originated in China. Being politically correct by omitting information or changing terms is unclear and keeps people in the dark. My reasoning is not to blame but to understand.
While the numbers escalate too rapidly to report here, California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Oregon are in the top states with the most coronavirus infections. These states are also sanctuary states hosting sanctuary cities which are rampant with the virus.
I do not support sanctuary cities but I support respect and common sense. If illegal immigrants do not understand the language, how will they follow safety protocols? If they are afraid to seek testing or treatment, how much farther will the virus spread? I do not support illegal immigration (or calling it undocumented to misrepresent the truth) but I do welcome immigrants who will contribute to the land where they have immigrated and who honor that country’s culture, citizens, laws, environment and communities.
Ignorance is the Culprit, Not Differences
Immigration is a passionate topic worldwide. Will the coronavirus’ mandate to close borders lessen the tension? Will common sense be restored by survivors of this pandemic?
If the politically correct term for old school is common sense, so be it. My term for politically correct is ignorance. As expressed in previous posts, I believe smart aka dumb phones have paradoxically proliferated ignorance. The injustice is not from identifying the difference but when hate or fear are attached to dissimilarity. Differences do not mean inequality to me. I respect borders with an open mind.
Contrary news reports on the coronavirus got you feeling confused? Everything changing too rapidly to absorb? Feeling like you’re churning in a sea of uncertainty? No worries (unless that’s what you choose to do.)
Look at the bright side. Yes, there is always a bright side, as the Tijitu depicts and notables observed:
“Confusion is the welcome mat at the door of creativity.” ∼ Paul Cezanne
“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” ∼ Pablo Picasso
“Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not yet understood.” ∼ Henry Miller
There is an alternative to the negative energy of panic and hysteria that the media, skeptics, and worriers incessantly project with paintbrushes of gloom and doom. Change the lens of annihilation to burgeoning creativity and watch positive changes explode. Think mushrooms.
“Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”∼ Edward de Bono
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ∼ Albert Einstein
Note: in seeking creativity, I’m not suggesting you become as reckless as the youth on Spring Break. While we are advised to remain home, limit and distance contact (sounds like most who are usually glued to devices at home anyway), there is another suggestion I like. A fellow blogger passed along the simple and safe greeting of Namaskar.
Namaskar. Hmm. That intrigued me. Years ago I learned in Yoga that namaste meant “the beauty in me sees the beauty in you.”Lovely sentiment, but it felt odd greeting others in my western culture with Añjali Mudrā (hands placed together prayer-like and close to the chest while bowing the head toward the other person). After all, I grew up giving hearty hugs to friends and family then firm handshakes in business.
But now, now that close contact can be downright dangerous, fist bumps are considered risky, and elbow bumping feels like the chicken dance, there IS a better way. And one that’s survived the test of time and viruses too.
Greeting others with Añjali Mudrā and saying Namaste or Namaskar perfectly solves the coronavirus admonition to physically disconnect. But, it’s the beauty beyond the surface — a profound connecting while disconnecting — that attracts me.
While various explanations exist for the differences between namaste and namaskar, I like the ones best on detechter.com. Either greeting is said to develop a spiritual connection with the person being greeted. More poignant than a casual “Hello,” “Hi,” “Cheers,” or “Ciao,” I love this greeting of respect and honoring the other person. May its use continue to outlast any virus.
The coronavirus is tragic, I agree. But, here we’ve learned something joyful amidst the corona confusion. Flourishing in the creativity of chaos can lift humanity to another level. The choice, as always, is ours. Let it begin with me.
Tired of hearing about the Coronavirus? Tired of hearing about my smartphone dilemma? With the National Day of Unplugging ending last weekend, I’m ready to close my Diary of Dates with a Smartphone — at least for another 11 months. So, before I get too heady with spring, here’s the last few entries (continued from March 8th…):
March 9, 2020 –Getting Smart with the Smartphone
Although a self-proclaimed Neo-Luddite, I am open-minded. Sounds like an oxymoron, I know — at least until you understand my perspective. Like the Tao’s Taijitu, nothing is 100% positive or negative, good or bad, black or white, all or nothing.
I’m receptive to smartphone lovers who state their phone is a helpfultool in life; that they can control their device. These smart users view their phones as mini portable computers. That simple psychological switch in terminology generates a slightly friendlier feeling toward my Pixel 3XL. After all, I don’t want the phone telling me what to do.
A carpenter friend barely contains his grin while telling me how he uses his smartphone. “After installing a dishwasher in a customer’s house, I sent them a photo with the bill on my smartphone. Within minutes they wired money back to my account.”
That IS an awesome capability. I get it. Yet, that same tradesman refuses any temptation to use his phone while socializing. He leaves it in his truck. Sounds smart to me, and considerate.
March 10, 2020 – Something IS Wrong with this Picture and it’s Not the Camera
Seeing the masses blindly tethered to smartphones and not interacting with each other in person alarms me. While the numbers* and terminology vary, smartphone addiction or problematic use IS valid. I often say don’t jump in if you don’t want to jump out. Similarly, why would I try heroin knowing it’s addictive?
A friend in AA recovery tells me, “Most coming to Twelve Step meetings these days are heroin addicts. I see them glued to their phones, scrolling, scrolling, during the meeting…not paying attention to the speaker.”
How effective is that? “Does it mean they are doubly-addicted?”
“Well, I see it as disrespectful for one thing.”
He says current day addicts revolve through the rehab’s door. “It’s big business today. And the users wear it like a badge saying they’ve been through rehab 10-15-20 or more times…”
March 11, 2010 – If smartphones are so smart, why didn’t they learn any manners?
Signs posted at the bank and dairy store request cell users to converse outside. Sad that they have to tell people this, but at least they do. (Personally, my HSP characteristic would banish blaring TVs from waiting rooms — particularly doctor’s offices — as I find quietly reading more calm and healing.)
Yes, I admit, I’ve glared at someone loudly conversing on their phone in a medical office because I couldn’t concentrate. But, I haven’t glared at the driver sitting next to me at the red light who presumes I also want to hear their BOOM – BOOM – BOOM bass that is vibrating their car (and mine). No need for road rage, you know.
Unabashed concert attendees blind everyone else while holding up smartphones to record — or even watch — the live stage performance. Why not just stay home if they want to watch it on a screen? Didn’t I buy a ticket too to view the live performance?
A kindergartner on a smartphone at the school bus stop was asked, “What color is the sky?”
The child responded, “I don’t know.” (And didn’t bother to ask Google.)
March 12, 2020 – Slippery Slopes
A Neo-Luddite country store owner relates her recent experience to me. “When I walked into a church meeting everyone was looking down at their smartphones. I asked them, ‘Do you realize a shooter could have come in and taken all of you out — that quickly?’ For a minute they looked dumbfounded…then returned to their screens.”
Feeling that chilly possibility, we acquiesce that all of us have a hand in this. From parents entertaining their toddlers with smartphones while glued to their own device, to us not (politely) commenting to store clerks interacting more with their phones than customers. Groaning together, we ponder a future ruled by a brainwashed techno culture.
“So, where do we go?” I asked.
Shrugging, then gesturing to her right she offered, “The Amish community down the road…?”
If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
March 13, 2020 – No Voice, No Choice
Rants about global human issues pervade the web but common consideration in close proximity is missing. I must remind myself to let it begin with me in saying what I mean, meaning what I say and not saying it mean. That goes for glaring too. If we can’t practice common courtesy on the local level, how will we ever get to global…much less world peace?
Awareness is the first step to change because we can’t make a change unless we are aware that one needs to be made in the first place. We can then begin understanding why we are doing what we are doing.
Oh, I did say I’d include the yang side of smartphones, didn’t I? Well, here are 20 qualities that smart users shared which I’ll admit are attractive:
International friends (communicate for free and freely)
Text friends (although I’m concerned about eradicating the human voice)
Instant communication (not wait to get home for laptop)
Numerous features, all in one place
March 14, 2020 – Eggs in a Basket
That last attribute reminds me of the old adage “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” which, in modern times, means “don’t put your life on your smartphone.”
My walking partner called in a panic. “You’ll never believe what happened to my son today. He’s sick about it.”
“What? You don’t sound so good.”
“He was standing on the dock at the lake when his smartphone fell in. He had everything on it. And I mean EVERYTHING. His personal contacts…but worse, ALL of his business information.
“Oh no! What’s he going to do?”
“He called a skin diver. The guy tried three times. But, it’s gone. Everything’s gone. He lost his orders, billing, suppliers, payroll…”
“Doesn’t he have that at the shop?”
“It wasn’t backed up yet to the new system.”
We both felt sick but not as sick as her son did. I do not understand this risk to reward ratio. Why would I hand over my life to a one-stop shop device with loitering hackers? It’s enough warding them off my PC — must I do battle on all tech fronts?
March 15, 2020 – Retraining and Playing Games
In revealing my precarious initiation with a smartphone, I’ve discovered through reviews that my Pixel may actually be faulty (repair diagnosis pending).
Smart users say they don’t do everything possible on their device, using it only for necessities. That scenario could possibly work for me — at least after it’s repaired or I get more educated. (Long, exasperated sigh.) Having to take time to learn something that was once simple — like using a phone — is a pebble in my shoe. But, by renaming the smart phone to mini portable computer, I’m more willing to get educated on a mini portable computer. No matter what, though, it has to stop bombarding me with things I don’t want or need!
Who’s Doing the Thinking?
Now, for the yin side. If you’re unaware of the dark side of smartphones, don’t ask Alexa or Google. Ask yourself, honestly, if any of these ring true for you:
Feeling impatient, fretful, angry, tense, irritated, depressed or restless when not with the smartphone, or when the cell phone network or battery is low.*
Thinking about the smartphone even when not using it
Giving the cell phone more time and attention than relationships*
Lacking interest in other activities and hesitating to interact with people
Missing work due to smartphone use
Low concentration or productivity due to smartphone use
Digital eye strains and discomfort from extended periods viewing a screen*
Wrist, neck or back pain or problems due to excessive cell phone use*
Constantly checking the smartphone for fear of missing conversations on social media such as Twitter or Facebook
Using a smartphone for more time than intended*
Others notice you are using a smartphone too much
Refusing to give up using a smartphone even when daily life is adversely affected by it
Inability to be without a smartphone*
Outsmarting the Smartphone
*I confess to these offenses when using my PC or the internet. Personal experience burgeoned my Neo-Luddism like the reformed smoker touting the evils of their former addiction. (I am a long ago reformed smoker who can’t have just one.)
My sincere aspiration is for people to stop and think. Consciously think— for themselves about their lives, their values, and relationships, rather than mindlessly be distracted with the superficial glories of advanced technology. If I add another layer of electronic distraction, what time will be left for the garden, hand drumming, reading books, cooking and sharing with people I love?
Many addicts assume it will happen to someone else but not them. Shakespeare knew what he was talking about when he said, “To thine own self be true.” That’s best accomplished by getting quiet, away from distractions. If you fidget in silence, try walking outside (without the device) for 15 minutes a day. Then listen. Really listen — to nature, your surrounds, but most importantly that voice of truth within your self that is probably begging to be heard.
Are you long-time smartphone users happily married to your phone — or did you take a leap, unplug this weekend (for the National Day of Unplugging) and go it alone? How did it feel? Was the silence deafening or a reprieve? Did you feel like you lost your best friend? Truthfully. Maybe you couldn’t let go…
March 8, 2020 – Separation
I left the house today
And soon realized
I forgot the smartphone.
An automatic alert almost crept in — Should I go back?
But I automatically responded, “No. I’m glad to not have it here.”
And then I felt even happier to realize not only didn’t I want it
I didn’t need it.
Walking outside, loving the fresh air, sights of nature, and friendly hellos from those I don’t know in this other neighborhood, it is quiet enough to contemplate why I don’t need or want a smartphone or android or whatever you want to call this thing that wants to incessantly dictate my life, my time, my attention. My thoughts.
I feel content today. Well-rested. Productive. I woke up early, fed the cat, read the Tao, felt the circular Qigong flow, wrote, blogged, read and commented on some other blogs, began a load of laundry, read and answered some e-mails, cooked (not microwaved) and ate breakfast, took a 35 minute walk in the 40 degree cold… I never turned on the phone. In fact, I’m not sure where it is or if it’s charged. And I don’t care. At least for today. My HSP self loves the pace of days like this.
The Only Cure for Overexposure is Reducing Exposure
I discovered some surprising wisdom about technology in the Tao te Ching. Credited to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu from the sixth century BCE, his twelfth verse warns of over stimulation. This can easily be applied to smartphones and devices today:
The five colors blind the eye. The five tones deafen the ear. The five flavors dull the mouth. Racing through the field and hunting make the mind wild. Searching for precious goods leads astray. Therefore, the sage attends to the belly, And not to what he sees. He rejects the latter and chooses the former.
In The Tao of Joy Every Day, Derek Lin interprets Lao Tzu’s message to “care for the stomach and not the eyes” to mean “take care of the basic necessities of life and turn away from too much sensory input.” Lin further suggests “going on an information fast. Shift more of your time spent consuming content delivered electronically to simpler, more basic activities in life. Instead of indulging in virtual reality, spend more time in the actual reality of the physical world.” Makes sense to me.
I’ve wasted the last two days before leaving for Turks & Caicos trying to understand and get this device to cooperate – take a photo, upload a photo. Get a call. Make a call. Instead the Google Pixel 3XL alerts me with dings, pings, news, e-mail, and unwanted ads. I think I’d rather be bit by a rabid dog. I can’t stand it…my brain screams aloud!
January 30-31, 2020 – Incompatibility?
The Pixel does what it wants when it wants. There is no arguing or web-based solution I can find to stop it’s pounding on my door. “Go away,” I say. I think we are incompatible. “We are too opposite and set in our ways.” I value my independence, free spirit and ability to think for myself.
It’s 5PM now…I need to pack. De-stress. Get away from this. Live real life. Pick a book to read on vacation. Forget about passwords, codes, locking and unlocking. Forget the devices — at least for now. I need to get some things done. I’ve never been one to throw things but — if it didn’t cost so much, I feel like throwing this phone against the wall or in the trash. Now I’m becoming the monster!
I want to be productive!!!
A friend tries to cheer me with this video. Laughter is good medicine. And so are human friends with hearts.
February 1, 2020 – Mediation
It’s the day before I fly out. I don’t want to overload the phone’s memory with photos but I don’t want my photos in “the cloud”…especially knowing Google plans to hold me hostage in a few years by charging me to store my stuff in their cloud. I bought the cord that says it’s Pixel 3XL compatible but it’s not working…
Waiting in line 15 minutes for my turn with the Geek Squad, I’m behind a woman who could be my grandmother. We’re both patiently waiting while a middle-aged couple is being helped at the counter (see video above).
“Hi,” I smile, when it’s my turn, happy the grandson-like Geek is waiting on me again. I suppose he remembers me, the selfish middle-aged woman who doesn’t want to share with Google. But, I refresh his memory that he set up the phone and ask if he’d show me how to transfer photos from the Pixel to the laptop.
“I have to charge you $100 for that.”
What? “Just to give me instructions? It was $40 last time.”
Unsympathetically he shakes his head. “Sorry. It’s because data is involved.”
Disbelievingly, I shake my head. “No, I’m not paying $100.” My mind calculates the cost of this phone, the extra cables, protective case, glass shield, monthly service, programming… Do I really need this thing? I am paying a lot for this intrusion into my once manageable life…and that doesn’t count the expense of my emotional well-being or blood pressure meds I may end up needing. (Sigh.)
Leaving the store dejected, and feeling somewhat desperate, I remember there’s a PC shop down the road. It’s 15 minutes til closing time but the guy is friendly. He loves his Google Pixel. Finally, someone can help me! He patiently goes through the steps (a few times) and waits while I handwrite notes on what to do. Bless this man. He doesn’t even want to charge me and it’s a Saturday.
“I can’t leave without paying,” I say.
Slight pause, then, “Whatever you think.”
I hand him $25 and rush home to finish packing. I feel a bit lighter. A bit freer. Maybe, just maybe, this phone and I will become friends on this trip. I’m hopeful.
February 6, 2020 – Hopes Dashed
The endless Turks & Caicos sky mirrors turquoise waters. I think I’m taking photos to remember this bucket list trip. Back at the hotel, I swipe to see the photos. What? They are mostly shaky, pulsating videos. Have I mixed up the buttons? Apparently. I take more photos each day. Most I’ve deleted. Some accidentally. No need to download to the laptop. (I return home with a handful of pitiful photos.)
February 10, 2020 – Being Difficult
My friend calls.”How was your trip?”
We are in the midst of talking. I no longer hear her voice. I try calling back. No answer. My Pixel rings. I try to answer it. I hear her talking but she can’t hear me. She leaves a voice message. I pick up my landline and dial her number. We talk. Normally. We are not disconnected. The screen does not go black. I LOVE my landline.
February 15, 2020 – How Many Boomers Does it Take to Operate a Smartphone?
In the flooring store, I’m calling my installer for measurements. Hmm, good thing I have this phone — at least until it goes black. The phone rings and I can’t answer it. Two other boomers nearby try to help but none of us can get the call. One whips out his Samsung to make the call for me. A fourth person (younger store clerk) does the 1-2-3 swipe on my Pixel, touches my installer’s name in the contact list and voila’ the calls goes through. What?
Seeing my frustration, the boomer cashier says, “I hate these things. My daughter made me get one of these and I don’t know how to use it. I use to have a flip phone…” I smile back sympathetically.
I approach the younger store clerk. “Remember the last time I was here I just got this phone?” He smiles. “I still can’t use the darned thing. Could you show me how you got the screen back?” Again, he does the 1-2-3 swipe thing and says there are instructional videos on YouTube… Really? Does this “smart”phone have to be so complicated that I need instructions for the most basic tasks? I only want to make a call. Get a call. Take some photos… I am probably mumbling to myself at this point.
February 22, 2020 – Faster than…a Snail?
Finishing errands, I think I’ll use the smartphone to pull up movie selections on my way home. Wrong. The titles running quickly across the screen won’t allow me to select one. At the same time, I’m bombarded with flashing ads and annoying requests to download the movie app. Finally, I’m ready to give in — just to make them go away — until I see the app’s two star rating. Oh. (Groan.) I don’t need another problem to fix. I decide to not get involved.
I turn to YouTube for a tutorial. Halfway through it’s overtaken by another video that has nothing to do with what I was viewing. Really? This thing is“supposed” to save me time? I drive to the kiosk faster than getting the answer on the smartphone.
Most people tell me I have a calming presence. And I usually do. But the time this smartphone wastes raises my blood pressure. I’m afraid to see how high.
February 27, 2020– Limited Contact
The Pixel is charged but I ignore it. I resolve to turn it on for emergency calls only and hopefully better photos. I decide it will be my now and then, some of the time date. I think I can handle that.
February 29, 2020 – Misery Has Company
In sharing my vulnerabilities and frustrations with the smartphone world, I discover numerous others in my camp. Including my Tai Chi instructor.
Her “e-mail” reads “I have to laugh. My phone is back in its box on the counter. It’s been 30 days so I can’t send it back.”
She too, was forced to give up her flip phone for the supposedly “smarter” variety. I wish I could laugh about this. I’m also past the return date (and I suppose I would have to pay someone another $40-$100 or more to delete my personal info before returning it anyway…and then I have all those accessories too). What a dilemma. And a pricey one at that.
I feel a slight solace from others sharing the complexities of their smartphones or as another blogger prefers to call it the “dumb” phone. I’m gravitating toward this term.
March 2, 2020 – The Stand Off
Sadly, I realize if I don’t spend time with the smartphone I won’t be able to use it even for the basics — make a call, get a call, take a photo. Yet, my arms automatically cross when thinking about turning it on even for 15 minutes of “learning.” My mind shuts down foreseeing frustration. In honesty, I loathe the phone and it knows it.
March 5, 2020 – Imprisonment
I got along fine without a smartphone in my life before. Actually, I felt healthier. More calm. My life was manageable. I was efficient and productive. While the saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” keeps returning in my head, the smartphone retorts, “If you don’t use me, you won’t learn how to, and then what? You can’t go back to the flip.” I feel trapped.
I don’t want the smartphone to think for me. I don’t want a smartcar to drive for me. I’m a great parallel parker and I back up just fine, thank you. Must I give up my independence? I’m feeling depressed. Maybe I’ll ask Google for a job so I can show them how to make a smartphone that boomers can use and actually like. Now I think I’m really losing it.
March 6, 2020 – Who’s at Fault?
Considering myself a logical, practical person, I question if the phone is really this complicated. Particularly when many tout the convenience of their phones while mine “wastes” my time. My flip phone would make a call, my camera took a photo. Maybe I got a faulty phone. Is it the Pixel or me?
March 7, 2020 – Lovin’ Life More than a Device
The National Day of Unplugging won’t be ending for me tonight. I’m so HAPPY without the phone. Doesn’t that say it all? And I think some others are too as evidenced by their dreams of unplugged time. I’m wondering what you did in 24 hours of unplugging. And I’m not talking about the sink drain…
Mark your calendar, set your alert notifications for the National Day of Unplugging which begins at sundown this coming Friday (March 6) and ends (only if you want it to) at sundown on Saturday (March 7). This mini diary on my smartphone experience explains why I’ll be unplugged too!
Using my brand new android smartphone, I attempt to photograph ceramic tiles in the Lowe’s home improvement store to coordinate with cabinetry. The 20-something clerk sees my difficulties and offers to help.
“I just got this,” I nervously chuckle while handing him the phone.
Quickly he swipes one way then another.
“I started with a flip phone in my teens,” he says. “Even I had to get use to a smartphone. But, you’ll love it,” he assures me. “You can get stock quantities. Use the calculator to determine your costs. Access your bank account to pay for it…”
Oh, not my bank account. But, he makes it look so easy I’m feeling slightly optimistic. I just need practice. I leave the store, my heart warmed more from human kindness in my moment of vulnerability than the possibility of being able to operate my smartphone.
January 17, 2020 – “If You Don’t Use it, You Lose it”
That wise sentiment has survived generations. Because it’s true.
Traveling to a town I haven’t seen in a decade, I momentarily feel lost on an unfamiliar street. Almost instantly I think you have that phone. Pull over and use the GPS. Instead, I look ahead several blocks and see enough moving cars that it appears to be a main road. I decide to use my own skill and think for myself instead of relying on Google for the answer. My instincts are right. I find my way. And I feel all the better for it.
Again and again, I consider the term “smart”phone. Are these phones so smart they make people do stupid things like walk into traffic? Some users can’t even name the street they are standing on. Employees know nothing about the company that employs them or products carried…deferring to the “smart”phone for the answer — or worse yet, telling me to ask a smartphone for the answer.
When phoning my state’s Attorney General because of a telemarketing scam, their Office of Consumer Protection could not explain the difference between a credit freeze and a credit hold. She had to Google it. If 81% of Americans now own a smartphone, I wonder how many can still think for themselves…assess a situation, then think deeply to find a solution without resourcing the phone.
January 18, 2020 – Pushiness Does Not Win me Over
If my android smartphone behaved like my PC where I turn it on, use the programs I need then call it a day, we might get along. But, this smartphone is like a braggadocio date constantly pummeling me with hype. Groan. I don’t look forward to our time together. Instead of extending a hand in friendship, this lurking, slurping, berserk monster tyrannizes me with snarls and bites.
January 20, 2020 – Isn’t Swiping for those Tinder People?
Swiping left — right — up — down makes my head spin. Finally I discover how to change all the swiping to buttons. Yes, I can deal with buttons. I think. But mine are getting pushed.
Today, I’ve decided devices are NOT healthy or friendly and especially for HSPs who can already be too easily overwhelmed. Today, I’m not horrified, just frazzled. While my reasons are different, I definitely feel the link between tech devices and anxiety (and I barely engage with social media). The tracking-tracking-tracking and attempted reprogramming feel like I’m corralled with sheep for slaughter. I refuse to be a clone of whatever SM (social media or techno sado masochism — you decide) or the Evil Tech Sextet (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon) tell me to believe.
“We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our devices.”
I prefer burying my nose in the rose bushes or sun-warmed tomatoes and basil, thank you.
I’ve learned that I often get what I need. So, in a way it was no surprise to read the following message in The Five Invitations – Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully by Frank Ostaseski:
“…we end up addicted to busy.
“The smartphone, our most constant companion, is a shining example of this mentality. A recent survey of San Francisco residents found that on any given day, most people interact with their smartphones more than they do with other human beings. Half of the people surveyed admitted to using their phones to escape social interaction, and nearly a third said they felt anxious when they didn’t have access to their phones.
“Remember when computers were sold to us based on the idea that they would create more leisure time and greater human connectivity? I want my money back.”
I agree with Frank. Big Tech’s given me no reason to believe their phones are for my “convenience.” Remember the promise of a “paperless society”?
Ever stack up your junk mail? It all sounds great on the surface (marketing propaganda usually does)…but in reality I have wasted more time from companies breaching my data and it being sold on the dark web, to deleting phishing e-mails, to avoiding spam calls, and on and on. Why would I want to give up any more precious time and privacy, or put myself at further risk? This is why all the extra “capabilities” of a “smart” phone do not make sense or appeal to me. Seeing a family sitting together with each person’s eyes glued on their own smartphone saddens me.
The Natural Rhythm of Life
Frank Ostaseski quotes a late friend, Angeles Arrien, who often commented that “Nature’s rhythm is medium to slow. Many of us live in the fast lane, out of nature’s rhythm. There are two things we can never do in the fast lane: we can neither deepen our experience nor integrate it.” He says she encouraged others to walk outside for an hour every day and spend at least a half hour in silence every day. “When we lose touch with the rhythms of nature, we become unbalanced,” she said. “To be fully present within our nature, we must be in balance with the land around us.”
I think Angeles was on to something. Surely, I am not the only one in this minority of Neo-Luddites (or partial Neo-Luddite as I’m not an all or nothing gal, or maybe just group of self-reliant persons). This sentiment rings true with me when observing smartphone users: “A cellphone signals my whole world is me and it excludes everyone else.” Remember the old tagline, “Reach out and touch someone”? Try it for real while you unplug this coming weekend. Your smartphone can’t hug you like a friend.
At the drum circle a friend inquires, “How did you like your Smartphone?”
“Not much. I could barely use it in Scotland. I’m back with the Trac.”
A phone “gabber” I’m not unless someone is too long distance to meet in person. For me, a phone, any phone is a practical tool to make plans for getting together. Exchange smiles. Or tears. Or hugs. Communicate human to human. I’ll get along without a Smartphone. So I think.
August-September 2019 – Unavailability
More often than not, the Tracfone indicates “NO SERVICE” even for local calls — hardly helpful in an emergency (my only local need or desire for a non-landline phone).
September 15, 2019 – There’s nothing like a piece of paper…
“Sorry I couldn’t make the drum circle yesterday,” a fellow drummer says. “I was on my way [to a new location] when my phone battery died…I didn’t have the address or a way to call you so I turned around and went home.”
A 94 mile trek for nothing. Glad I don’t rely on a phone.
Quite frankly, I love pen and paper. Always have. Always will. Like a loyal dog and best friend it’s always there, never intrusive, comes when I call it.
The young couple denting someone’s car in the parking lot had no paper or pen to leave a note. Hit and runs — whether in parking lots or worse yet, as pedestrian fatalities, are rising. I wonder how much is attributed to Smartphone use and/or a lack of paper…
November 6, 2019 – A New Blind Date
Emptying out my deceased brother’s apartment, I inherit his Samsung Smartphone. His helpful business partner clears it and helps transfer the 429 minutes I rarely use on my flip phone. Maybe, just maybe this will work.
December 7, 2019 – Roving Eyes
My Canon PowerShot camera conks out. The few photos I take on the Samsung are meh. Now what to do? Tracfone doesn’t offer international coverage, and I’m not going back to Mobal. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are over. Do I pay several hundred dollars for a camera fix or replacement, and still have to lug it with a phone…in the limited space of a carry-on? My cost-consciousness wrestles with tech’s marketing message that says I want convenience.
December 9-29, 2019 – Background Checks
Large purchases call in my research skills. Admiring a fellow blogger’s exquisite photos, he tells me many are with a Google Pixel 3XL Smartphone.
I waffle with indecision over the expense. Do I really need this? Do I really want a monthly bill?I do want quality photos.
I further inquire about Smartphones. “Oh yes, I love my phone,” friends say. The Verizon rep touts the new Google Pixel 4XL and a hefty monthly charge. Best Buy confirms the phone I’ve told myself I want is already outdated. I’ve got one foot on the carousel and already it’s whirling too fast.
My flight date closes in. Finally taking the plunge, I order the Pixel 3XL to arrive in time. After all, we need to get acquainted before traveling together.
January 13, 2020 – Dead End Date
Taking a deep breath, I open the box. There are strange looking cords. A diagram with no wording. What does all this mean? The hefty booklet that I hope will be instructions is legal disclaimer. Groan. I turn on the Smartphone anyway to set it up. It stops and won’t proceed. Off and on. Off and on. It’s frozen. We’re not starting off well.
January 14, 2020 – It’s one thing to be a Luddite, but now a grandmother too?
The Geek Squad guy tells me, “Don’t worry. I had to do this for my grandmother too.” Groan. An hour later I walk out thinking I’m all set. And then I get home and pull out my scribbled notes…
January 15, 2020 – Stalked!
I turn on the phone. What? Photos I took on the Mobal phone in Scotland now appear on this phone. Including my recently deceased dog. Not what I hoped to see. How did this happen? Suddenly, I remember fooling around with Google’s Picasso years ago when it grabbed my financial documents with photos and placed them on the Internet. I was horrified! Not again!
Original feature photo by Jason Tharsiman on Unsplash
Love may have been in the air this weekend but not necessarily between me and my android Smartphone. Yes, I’ve been shoved into the noisy techno world of oncoming traffic, reluctantly but necessarily if I want to be able to function in this world.
My motto of “Don’t jump in if you don’t want to jump out,” safeguarded me for awhile. Doing what everyone else does “because that’s what everyone else is doing” is not me. Such reasoning conjures up images of Guyana Kool-Aid, the Hale-Bopp Comet deaths, and sheep blindly following sheep…to the slaughter house rather than sweet dreams. Years of friends chuckling at my dinosaur flip phone mattered little to me. I didn’t have a monthly cell bill, and my landline and answering machine worked just fine. Yes, I did say, “answering machine.” Digital at least. Not cassette…
But now, now I’ve re-entered the Smartphone arena that feels like bulls charging me from all sides. I say “re-entered” because I had my first date with a Smartphone nine months ago. I needed a phone I could use while traveling in Scotland. TracFone couldn’t do that so I invested in a Mobal phone with 30-day risk-free UK plan to give it a go. Here’s how it went:
May 23, 2019 – First Date, First Impressions
“This is going to make your trip so awesome,” friends said.
I nodded my head in agreement while silently hiding my suspicion.
Downloading, typing, typing, typing.
“If you have a few minutes, could you show me how to….?”
“There’s no standardization. All phones are different.”
Researching how to this, how to that, how to, how to…
Downloading, specifying, protecting, not understanding, flashing
all the time.
No wonder so many are on anti-anxiety or anti-depressant meds. My blood pressure is up a good 10 points.
Downloading, warning, memory low on resources, black
Now what do I do?
Worrying, fretting, exhausted. Too much to lose.
I always thought why would I trust a device to hold ALL of my vitals?
Tech support (via landline).
Deleting, deleting, uninstalling, removing. “Is it safe?”
Oh, this has not been a pleasant first experience.
Is it really going to get better after this?
Day 2 or is it the second week…or how long have I had this thing?
This intrusive device had to be silenced so I could get some sleep.
Do I really need this?
I haven’t even taken this to Scotland or put it to real use. Already I need to clear my head.
An owl hoots in the distance. Or, is he echoing from this end?
I hear whinnying like a horse. I walk closer to see if I can see it, otherwise, I’ll have to askGoogle…
The magnificent hawk glides through the sun rays of this happy blue sky.
I feel free.
I feel in the moment.
There is no tension in my being
just the push and pull as I stride up the hill
to be OUTSIDE.
June 5, 2019 – We’re Not Getting Along
I call a Scotland Lyft. No availability.
I pick up the landline. A Black Cab arrives.
Getting off the train platform in Stirling, which way to go?
The font is tiny. I cannot read the directions.
Thank goodness for my printed copies of Mapquest
and the helpful elderly woman who guides me to a local breakfast joint.
e-mail arrives. The sitter reports my beloved dog Bess is walking around the pond, playing, eating, doing okay.
June 6, 2019 – Ceased and Deceased
5-hour European time delays. No communication.
11PM e-mail arrives. My dog is dead. She’s been euthanized.
Trying to make contact, the Mobal phone is also dead.
Did I forget to charge it?
Returning home, the phone goes back in the box. Service ceased.
And so has my involvement with a Smartphone. I think.
How Do You Do?
In gearing up for the National Day of Unplugging, which may soon become my favorite holiday, I’m reflecting on my Smartphone transition thus far. Being a gardener and feeling alive when outdoors and in nature, I’ve resisted using a device particularly when observing how vastly it is changing our lives, our vocabulary, our thoughts, communication, lifestyle and even human physical attributes (think eyesight, thumbs, memory, and prefrontal cortex).
This concerns me. And while I’ve resisted, it grows increasingly difficult to operate without a device. Do you “consciously” think about Smartphone use — for yourself and the world at large? How do you spend your time, are you more at ease, more productive with it? Have you found the benefits (aka “conveniences”) outweigh the intrusion? I’d love to know how you manage your device, or if it controls you.
Surely, I’m not the only one getting into the tech game at this late stage. I wonder, did you have a similar experience to mine, or did you jump right in and swim? (I can float but water over my head is not relaxing and probably tied to my HSP tendencies.) Was there ever a time in your life when you didn’t have a Smartphone and can you recall what that felt like? Are you a Digital Diva, growing up with a Smartphone in your hand…or like me, from the mountainous countryside where life is quiet, simple, and maybe 10 years behind the times?
Here’s a worthy alert for your phone on March 6, 2020. Beginning at sundown on the first Friday in March, the annual National Day of Unplugging will run 24 hours until sundown on March 7th. Try it. See how you feel… Truly, I’d love to hear if it makes a difference in your being.
Incomprehensible. Sixteen deaths in 2019, with six of them very close to me — friends, co-workers, family, and my beloved border collie Bess vanished in a six-month tsunami of clearing relationships from my life.
In weathering this heavy-hearted summer, a healing practitioner recommended The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Ripoche. Filled with foreign concepts, it hasn’t been an easy read. Often, I’m in between two or even three books so I picked up an oldie by Alan Cohen — I Had it All the Time. While insightful, the ACIM thread doesn’t completely resonate with me. Still, I get what I need like the passage explaining that when our life is clearing out it is simply preparing us for the new. That message eased some discomfort. Because in all honesty, I’ve felt stuck. For awhile. Well, maybe a year or two…or more.
While preparing for my Turks & Caicos bucket list trip, I thought the quiet solitude and healing waters would elicit the ruminations my HSP self sought…that this sojourn would make sense of 2019’s rapidly falling dominoes of change.
I’m beginning to comprehend all of life — not just death — is a transformation. Like the ocean, there is no end. There is no beginning. It is simply a continuation from one moment to another. Change is not my enemy but a life giving force to move me along like a leaf in a stream, it burgeons my understanding of this journey called “life.”
Once again my island adventure transformed. The first day, the ocean and gale force winds kept everyone out of the water. Totally unexpected but accepted. Each day progressively calmed as the tide washed away the past and swept in fresh awareness. Shifting from fear and grief toward accepting life’s flow is freeing. Trusting that all is well and working out exactly as it’s meant to be releases the anxiety of not knowing. Having faith (and moving my feet) is all I can do. Then see where life takes me.
After a few days of reading, walking, swimming, exploring and resting, tinges of guilt crept in. Why are you avoiding dealing with this? Are you trying to elude those downcast feelings and well of tears?Why are you putting off what you thought you needed to more freely move on?Are your unwritten journal pages diminishing what loved ones meant to you? Why are you procrastinating?
My surprising response was that I was living in the moment. Observing and engaging in the present rather than rehashing the past elicited tiny but powerful connections to the here and now. I was in fact living in the flow…rather than returning to what was and is gone. By the last day of solitude I realized that my lost loved ones would rather see me happy than engulfed in sorrow. My journal entries were not about loss and death but messages teaching me to live and love fully in the now.