Refresh

Woman relaxing on a park bench holding a book and breathing in Spring air

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

Black and white yin and yang symbol
Taijitu

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 helpful tool 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.

Photo of various types of tools such as hammer, measuring tape, wrench

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.”

“WOW!”

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

Five people sharing a meal together but interacting with their smartphones rather than each other

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?

*Almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction; two million are to prescription opioids. The availability of addictive sources baffles me. Until I follow the money.

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…”


*TWO OUT OF EVERY THREE  people are addicted to their phone

*60% of U.S. college students have a cell phone addiction

*47% of people have tried to limit their phone use, but ONLY 30% of them SUCCEEDED


March 11, 2010 – If smartphones are so smart, why didn’t they learn any manners?

Sign indicating no cell phones and to talk outsideSigns 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.

Concert attendees holding up smartphones
Photo by Nicolas LB on Unsplash

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

Caution sign for slipping
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels

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.

∼Nora Roberts


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.

∼ Madisyn Taylor on Daily OM


What’s so Great about a Smartphone

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:

  1. Graphic drawing of a red ribbonSecurity
  2. International friends (communicate for free and freely)
  3. Note-taker
  4. Map
  5. Camera
  6. Traffic information
  7. News source
  8. Tell time
  9. Calendar
  10. Track packages
  11. Text friends (although I’m concerned about eradicating the human voice)
  12. Search restaurants
  13. Learn information
  14. Watch movies
  15. Radio
  16. Flashlight
  17. Communications
  18. Music device
  19. Instant communication (not wait to get home for laptop)
  20. Numerous features, all in one place

March 14, 2020 Eggs in a Basket

Photo of wooden basket overcrowded with eggs
Photo by Rebekah Howell on Unsplash

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.”

“Oh…”

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?

Dark side of a planet
Photo by Drew Rae on Pexels

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
  • Memory decline
  • 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

Reclining man surrounded by technology
Photo by Ola Dapo on Pexels

*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.

Neon sign indicating
Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

A Love Hate Diary of Dates with a Smartphone… (part 3)

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!

Continuing from Part 2 that ended on January 15, 2020…

January 16, 2020 – Warming my Heart

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.

Hand holding a device with cars moving down a main street
Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

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.

Menacing monster snarling with jaws open to bite
Original photo by Adam McIntyre on Canva

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.

Fifteen percent of Americans interrupted sex to answer their cell phone. Really? I presume they were swiping. The woman in the restroom stall answering her cell phone was raunchy enough… Sheesh. I’m afraid to ask what’s next.

January 25, 2020 – An Unhealthy Relationship

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.

Far-reaching orange and brown monster
Original photo by Adam McIntyre on Canva

“We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our devices.” 

— the National Day of Unplugging website

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.”

Stream running through a forest
Photo by Eberhard Grossgasteiger on Unsplash

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.


IUnplug-Live

 

 

A Love Hate Diary of Dates with a Smartphone… (part 2)

This mini diary on my Luddite introduction with a Smartphone is in honor of the upcoming National Day of Unplugging (first Friday in March).

Continuing from Part 1 that ended on June 6, 2019…

July 13, 2019 – Contemplating Compatibility

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…

Woman holding note of apology for backing into a car
Original photo by Lukas from Pexels

“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. 

Notebook and pen on table near coffee cup
Original photo by David Bares from Pexels

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

Brand new box for Google Pixel 3XL with cords and components but no ID of parts

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.

Shocked face of elderly woman

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! 

Masked terrorist spreading red smoke into the air
Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

IUnplug-Connect

Original feature photo by Jason Tharsiman on Unsplash

Get More Social

By now, you know my feelings about the overuse and addictive characteristics of social media, particularly as it hampers one’s interest in human to human communication and experiencing the natural environment.  I offer Christina Farr’s article in the hopes it will help those of you trying to detox and return to a more serene, content and manageable life.  As a society, we do have the ability to take back our lives.  Have you noticed a recent wave of people saying, “Enough is enough” and unplugging to stop the progression of anxiety, depression, chaos and confusion that social media has introduced into their lives?

While Christina offers her personal experience of attending a formal camp to unplug, you can reduce stress and create a more rich and satisfying life by asking yourself a few introspective questions like:

  1. What is truly important to me?  Personal time with friends and loved ones, or how many likes I’ve received?
  2.  If I had one day left on this planet, what would I do — would I post on social media or respond to that inner nudge to do something I always wanted to do like mountain climb or learn to play a musical instrument?  What have I always wanted to do but spent my hours on social media instead?
  3. How do I feel inside when taking a walk in nature, looking at someone in the eye and seeing their smile versus hearing constant pings on my device?
  4. Is my time better spent helping someone through volunteer work or trying to impress and compete with the virtual lives of others?
  5. What makes me feel content?  What makes me feel anxious or depressed?

Make a list if you need to.  Let it look you squarely in the eye and you’ll know what you need to do to truly live a meaningful life.   Here’s how Christina handled her social media addiction:

Social media detox: Christina Farr quits Instagram, Facebook

Christina Farr used to spend 5 hours a week posting and interacting with friends on Instagram. She quit cold this summer, and her life changed dramatically for the better.

Source: Social media detox: Christina Farr quits Instagram, Facebook

Meditation Protection…

Every now and then my passion for gardening and appreciating nature is punctuated by technology’s increasing thirst to control our lives. To me, these cold and calculating ways are the antithesis to nature’s infinite beauty and serenity. That is why this topic pops up on my blog now and then (no pun intended).

tyler-nix-685424-unsplash
Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

I bumped into an old friend recently who said her eldest child is retired (at age 35). After making and investing his millions as a technological entrepreneur, he and his wife now live in an Airstream, traveling cross-country to hike and explore nature’s magnificence. “He meditates quite a bit,” she added.

This gave me hope that those so addicted to devices will realize the hours they’ve wasted not living real life, or freedoms they’ve willingly discarded by allowing technology to think for them.

yifei-chen-478748-unsplash
Photo by YIFEI CHEN on Unsplash

My concerns about the ethical crises in technology were confirmed by best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari, and executive director of the Center for Humane Technology, Tristan Harris who explained how people, corporations and governments are using technology to hack human beings. (Harris previously studied the ethics of human persuasion at Google.)

In their When Tech Knows You Better than You Know Yourself interview, these philosophers raised the question:  “Whose best interests should technology be serving — individuals or corporations?  Should apps be as successful (and profitable) as possible which equates to addiction, loneliness, alienation, social comparison…”

“There’s a reason why solitary confinement is the worst punishment we give human beings. And we have technology that’s basically maximizing isolation because it needs to maximize the time we stay on the screen,” Harris said.

Think about that. Really let it sink in. So many have imprisoned themselves with technology. Remember, a prior post on my friend whose brother is addicted to gaming and barely leaves his room anymore?

annie-spratt-167089-unsplash
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Hearing that some children would rather do chores or homework than play outside baffled me. Was it a fear of Lyme Disease,  Zika Virus, or the extreme humidity of global warming? I didn’t want to go outside either in the humidity this summer but didn’t stay tied to a device either.

thought-catalog-668984-unsplash
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Instead, I discuss the Tao and hand drum with friends, attend Tai Chi classes, concerts, live theatre and art exhibits.  At home I’m nurturing flower and veggie gardens while playing with my beloved border collie or practicing Qigong. Experimenting in the kitchen and reading a great library book enhance my time. Yes, I love those page turners (literally and otherwise)!

I was thrilled to find Blogtasticfood.com where Nick’s mission is to “post super awesome recipes and get peoples butts in the kitchen.” I love it. Real cooking feels (and tastes) wholesome and nourishing to me. I’d much prefer devoting my time to creating a delicious meal than being consumed by social media, texting or the internet (while eating packaged preservative-laden processed foods). Tactile, personal connections mean more to me than an addictive device.

Frankly, I don’t want Amazon to know right before my light bulbs burn out (so they can sell me more). And I don’t want them to deliver groceries to my door so that I can isolate, and not get any fresh air, exercise, or interaction with my external environment.  “Don’t use it, you lose it,” still rings true.

However, as much as it sounds like I detest technology, I don’t. It’s the addictive aspects and loss of privacy and relationships that concern me. I agree with Harari that, “The system in itself can do amazing things for us. We just need to turn it around, that it serves our interests, whatever that is and not the interests of the corporation or the government.”  In that regard I can understand Amazon delivering food to an immobile person who lives alone.

To reduce the risks of your personality being hacked, Harari suggests first getting to know yourself better and exploring your choices more deeply. Of course, someone who meditates two hours a day and doesn’t use a smartphone is less likely to be hacked than someone addicted to their device he says. Then join an organization of activists for a more powerful voice in making society more resilient and less able to be hacked.

Harari and Harris emphasize, “They’re (corporation or government) about to get to you—This is the critical moment…So run away, run a little faster. And there are many ways you can run faster, meaning getting to know yourself a bit better. Meditation is one way. And there are hundreds of techniques of meditation, different ways work with different people.

You can go to therapy, you can use art, you can use sports, whatever. Whatever works for you. But it’s now becoming much more important than ever before. Protect yourself by getting to know your self.”   This sounds perfectly natural to me.

The National Day of Unplugging is March 1-2, 2019.  I say, “Why wait?”  How ’bout you?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Get a Universal Hug!

World Tai Chi & Qigong Day sat on my bucket list for several years.  With no events offered in my small, semi-rural community, I made up my mind last year to drive 1.5 hours to participate.  The powerful group energy felt like a profoundly calming universal hug, not to mention the good people I met and now have the pleasure of studying the Tao with.   Yes, I make the 3 hour roundtrip drive to do this monthly but it brings me so much pleasure it’s a worthy investment.  Now, World Tai Chi & Qigong Day is an annual must do event for me.  (FYI, it’s always the last Saturday in April at 10AM local time.)

As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person),  safeguarding my own peace and serenity (aka well-being) is critical for me.  Detaching from the bombardment of frenetic and frantic energy through sensationalized “news” while staying engaged with humans and the environment is key, and I’m meeting numerous others with similar observations.  Like the waitress who sadly said, “I’m serving more and more families who come in and sit glued to their phones rather than talk to each other.  It doesn’t make sense!”  Or the fellow concert goer who high-fived me after first responding in shock, “You did what?!  I’d like to give up this thing too and get my life back.”

tech free

For the record, I recognize some value in having technology like GPS or locating a restaurant in an unfamiliar city, but it’s not worth the expense to me — financially, mentally or emotionally. I just don’t need technology. My life M.O. has changed to “discarding” rather than “adding” non-essentials. I value my time more. I see how easily I could become addicted. And I see the stress — whether to the user or those around them — from constantly pinging phones interrupting each moment, deteriorating eye contact and banishing personal interaction. I see others trying to remedy their lives after their electronic financial accounts were hacked… What I don’t see is the value of turning my life over to technology.

seth-macey-396196-unsplash
Photo by Seth Macey on Unsplash

But anyway, the point of this post is to encourage you to try World Tai Chi & Qigong Day if you haven’t already.  Whether you are or aren’t engaged with technology, Tai Chi and Qigong are certain to bring a calmness into your life.  And couldn’t we all use that these days?

Visit this site to find an event near you:  http://www.worldtaichiday.org 

 fhug

A Language I do not Know

I do not understand the language of texting, or bar codes containing paragraphs of information.  I do not understand how people do not know how to count change, what their own phone number is, or how communication and society have morphed into a world of antonyms.

cheron-james-481530-unsplash
Photo by Cheron James on Unsplash

Words such as cooperation, negotiation, impartial, conversation, politeness, and respect are no longer understood.  They have become foreign concepts in this foreign land I no longer understand.

Customer service now means self service.

A doctor visit means getting a prescription.

“Friendships” have become 1,000 or 100 strangers I don’t really know.

“Conversation” was an informal exchange of ideas but often appears as a one-sided dump.

Once upon a time a “debate” meant a public discussion of opposing arguments on a particular topic.  Today it is who can interrupt the most and shout the loudest slander.

Microwaving a prepared meal is called cooking.”

Excuse me has fallen to the wayside for immediate interruption or unacknowledged bumping into.

Here you go replaced thank you.”

Intimidating hurtful trolls lurk on “social media.

“Personal responsibility” now looks like lawsuits and blame.

Family time means individual members sitting next to each other staring into screens.

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

“Unbiased journalism” is dead.  Infomercials disguised as articles, and fake news abound.

Health care is really the health industry.

Publicservants are politicians passing legislation written by lobbyists.

Marketing is the sugar-coated word for lies.  Companies tout their products to take my money yet when I attempt to get help for the “failed product” it is usually in the Philippines, Dubai or any other place I can barely understand the instruction to fix the problem for the “inferior product” that was advertised as “the world’s best” that I now wish I hadn’t purchased.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

My telephone landline use to bring news from friends or family.  Now, I cannot answer it for fear of telemarketers and scammers breaking into my home.

The tech industry told us they were making our lives simpler, less complicated, paperless, and more convenient when in truth our lives are more complicated, more disrupted, more vulnerable and disconnected, and I pay to discard more junk mail than food or household waste.

I do not recognize what I was taught in school.  Like being an American meant I was free and there was liberty and justice for all when in actuality my government sold out my rights to self-serving corporations.

America has turned topsy-turvy, upside down into a country of antonyms.  I am native to this foreign land where nothing is as it’s purported.

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Photo by Redd Angelo on Unsplash

My dictionary indicates virtual reality is not physically existing but made by software to appear to do so.”  As far as I’m concerned it’s based on a book of antonyms.  I’m not ready to discard my dictionary and thesaurus for a new reality.  I prefer to call it what it really is while I still have the mindset to know what it really is.

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Photo by pine watt on Unsplash

Reality – “the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.”

via Daily Prompt: Foreign

Spring, Life’s New Start!

yellow tulipMissed starting over for the New Year, like so many do?  Don’t feel bad.  It may have been Day 1 on the calendar, but Mother Nature begins anew with Spring.  You can too.

Becoming more aware of the paradoxes of life while studying the Tao, I suppose it’s not so unusual that I occasionally rant about technology addiction.  Afterall, it’s the antithesis of nature (and of growing concern to me).  So, if you’re among the trapped “millions” who bought into technology to have the latest and greatest, be like your friends, were attracted by “convenience,” or became hooked on virtual life rather than “living” your real one, you already know how crummy you feel.  Be honest.  (If you don’t know or believe that technology is addictive, ask your Smartphone for the answer.)

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I’m not completely kicking technology in the butt.  I admit, there are “some” conveniences and I realize even flowers need rain.  But, I also see how easily the technological scales tip to losing one’s self (not just through identity theft either), a sense of community, and an appreciation of nature while adding stresses like being hacked, internet bullying, lost privacy, constant interruption and distraction, unrefreshing sleep, increased onset of macular degeneration, mood impairment, etc., etc. purple tulip(Isn’t that enough?)

Yes, it takes courage to change, to not follow the crowd, and the only one who can do it is you.  If you want to de-stress and take back control of your life (and mind) this recent article will help.  Remember, only in the dark can you see the light.  It’s time to turn over a new leaf — it’s Spring!

 

March 20 Second Stage

 

Stop the technology virus from mutating the human brain and natural living.  In 2014, there were 420 million internet addicts.  In 2012, 84% of the population couldn’t go a day without their phone.  What do you think the numbers are now?

 

I Wonder…

I wonder how healthy Americans would be if:

  • The government gave everyone $2,000/year to spend on the preventive care of their choice.
  • Western medicine would partner with the wonders of alternative, eastern, and non-traditional medicine.
  • Big Pharma and lawyers stopped advertising.
  • Insurance companies allowed patients to select their own doctor, and gave doctors enough time to develop a knowledgeable relationship with their patients.
  • Medical schools taught diet and nutrition rather than what scripts to write.
  • The primary goal of medical students was to heal.
  • Doctors changed their focus from disease to creating optimal health.
  • Health, senior and child care workers were better trained and paid.ripple effect of good health
  • Restaurants stopped super-sizing portions.
  • Government agencies denied the use of harmful chemicals, pesticides, hormones, preservatives, additives, etc. in our food supplies.
  • Politicians worked “for the people” rather than the special interests they serve.
  • Technology stopped directing people to be lazy or on overload.
  • Manufacturers produced quality products that lasted.
  • Businesses discarded voice mail and returned to employing and training “people” to help customers.
  • Hollywood stopped making violent movies and video games.
  • Parents interacted with their children as a family and limited screen time.
  • We connected with nature and respected our environment.
  • As a nation, we showed personal pride in our person and how we treat others.
  • Everyone took personal responsibility for their own health.

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Perhaps my response should have been to a Daily Prompt on “What I Know” rather than via Daily Prompt: Wonder

What are we doing?

A young friend, who is a talented musician and new father, shared his disappointing Christmas with me.  When asking his brother if he would like to hear the latest song he  recorded, his brother’s response was, “Sorry man.  I can’t.  I have 10 seconds until the tournament starts.”

My friend then revealed to me that his brother is addicted to gaming.  “He’s usually stockpiled in his room, stacking empty dishes of food my mother brought him because he can’t tear himself away from the game.  I’ve told him he’s disgusting, often not showering for three days,” my friend said.  I shudder in the realization that this technology problem is much bigger than I surmised and a grave concern to what we are doing to our society.  Isn’t the opiod crisis enough?

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My young friend continued, “You remember Jack at my wedding?  We use to talk on my drive home from work and had big plans for recording together.  Then he told me he bought a gaming system and wanted me to get one too.  He doesn’t return my calls anymore.  He won’t even pick up the phone.  I know he’s addicted to gaming too.”

My friend, at age 30 is already a wise old soul.  I was proud of him when he announced he gave up his cell phone because he was texting while driving.  And when he fired the babysitter because she placed an I-phone in his infant’s hands, I felt more pleased.  “I want my son to experience life,” he said.  “I want to take him cross country to see the beauty of the land and meet different people.”

I then shared with him a startling conversation I had with my older and over-weight brother in-law during the holidays.  His wife (an I-phone and Candy Crush addict) proudly told me she could start her oven with her I-phone.  “Why would you want to?” I asked.  My brother in-laws response?  “So you don’t have to get off the couch.” I felt stunned.  We already have an obesity problem in America and now technology is helping people stay inactive, indoors and isolated.  What are we doing?

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I understand gaming rehabs are some of the most expensive and that a gaming addiction is as difficult to treat as bulimia.  Drug rehabs are big business and a revolving door of profits.  When will humans wake up to realize they are giving up free thought and subsequent health under the guise of convenience but the truth of corporate profit?

game over

Addictions — whether drugs,  technology, gambling, food, shopping, etc. — would doubtfully be so overwhelming if people tempered their device with the wisdom and beauty of Nature.  Nature is free and it’s everywhere, reliably standing by, willing to offer peace and insights for living life.  Take a hike.  Plant a garden with your child.  Walk the dog and say hi to the neighbors.  Get off the couch to cut your own grass, and turn on the oven yourself.

It all begins with one conscious choice.

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