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).

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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 

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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.

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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?

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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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Be Still

“To be still, get still,” popped into my head while feeling dizzily over-stimulated from noisy store crowds, parties, and meandering traffic this week.   The holidays can drain anyone and especially with technology’s hastened pace and constant bombardment.

For many years I’ve chosen to celebrate the holidays through the beauty of the land.  Whether it’s gathering aromatic pine boughs on the morning of Christmas Eve or breathlessly climbing a steep slope of evergreens to gain fresh perspective on New Year’s Day — intimately connecting with Mother Nature is my holiday spirit.  It is the quiet, the crunch of my boots in the snow, the sun warming my face, and breathing in fresh pine, that speaks to me deep within.  Glowing candlelight and a poinsettia paint the mellow ambience I love.   Add in laughter, healthy food and hand drumming with friends, and voila’; I’ve created a non-traditional holiday out of love, not stressful obligation.  And as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I want for nothing more.

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This year, I’ve received wise words from unexpected sources — women I’ve never met but with whom I share a Nature-focused spiritual path:

  • Particularly comforting in the midst of losing so many trees to pipeline construction are the words of a Yoruba priest: “Nature is resilient. The trees will come and go – some naturally and some by the needs and destructiveness of man.  Don’t cry for the trees.  They have served their purpose and they have planted their seeds.  They have helped those of the earth in many ways – the humans, the animals, the air, the soil, and other nature beings. Their spirit is resilient and they will be reborn in other forms and once again, serve their purpose. Perhaps one of them lies in you.  This is the nature of life.” 

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The Sacred Science Pinecone Meditation

Find a pine cone and place it in front of you. Gaze at the pinecone for a full minute, then close your eyes and imagine the pinecone-shape behind your third eye. Envision the scales of the pinecone unfolding and opening to take in nourishment from Divine Light, and see your pinecone-shaped pineal gland energized and radiant. In this space, consider all the benefits of pine medicine and imagine this energy as a white light healing your mind, body, and spirit.

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The wisdom of the land is why I love it so.Santa Key Smile  It teaches me about living life.

 

Taming the Holidays

“Ping!” my car doors locked as I headed toward the grocery store, dodging rush hour cars veering into tight parking spots then carts barreling into the entrance.   No one was smiling. Including me.

For years I’ve dreaded the Christmas holidays and for nearly as many years, I’ve sought to santa headache-1understand why.  Dysfunctional Christmases of my youth reveal anticipated Norman Rockwell (virtual) holidays severed by the reality of family arguments and chaos.  Young adulthood in a city several hours away still felt the angst of coming home for the holidays. By midlife when stores began pushing Christmas before Halloween and then Labor Day, I felt so weary of Christmas that I too jumped ahead, seeking spring’s relief (post Easter Bunny).

Wise counsel lessened the Christmas Madness.  “Make the holidays what you want them to be,” my friend said, “Not what others think you should do, or just because it’s always been done a particular way.  Create your own tradition or celebration.  You decide how much and what you want to do.”  Wow!  What a life changing concept.

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Several decades and layers of understanding later, I realize I can be free of holiday chaos and not be a scrooge.  Each year, I reassess my participation and focus on what is most important, what stirs my soul.  Baking cookies went by the way side.  Too many calories, too tempting, and too time consuming.  Besides, by January my regret would weigh as much as the extra pounds.  I reduced one hundred Christmas cards with personal messages to only contacting those farthest away or the elderly.  This year, those Christmas cards evolved to “giving thanks” cards in November — a more relaxed time to express heartfelt sentiments. Once I consciously chose to ignore marketing’s mantra to buy-buy-buy, and the stigma that Christmas should look like XYZ, I felt more free.

Back at the grocery store, a woman’s cart blocks the bread aisle.  Politely offering, “Excuse me,” I attempt to push past, discovering she is mid conversation on her phone.  Others wheel through the aisles, their eyes downcast to the left or right.  I wonder if they’re taking time to reflect what Christmas is supposed to be about or if they are consumed with get-get-get, then how to pay-pay-pay for all of the (mostly unnecessary) stuff.  Flashing Christmas lights and blinding glittery ornaments compete with well-worn carols and shopper specials blaring through the loudspeaker.  Rows of cash register dings punctuate long lines of overwhelming chatter and ring tones ranging from sirens to barking dogs.   No one smiles.

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I recall recent blog posts and news stories on Smartphone and social media addiction.  Unhappiness.  Loneliness.  Accelerated rates of depression linked to the number of hours on a device.  I see it on the faces around me.  And while my participation in these things is little to null, the over stimulation of Christmas is magnified for an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) like me.

Do you have a hard time with the Christmas holidays?  Are you one of those persons who hear the shotgun start at Thanksgiving, rush breathlessly to Christmas, then drop across the finish line of New Years?  How do you cope with this season?  Do you wish you could blink your eyes and the holidays would be over?  (Not to rush your life, but…)

You have more control over this than you think you do.  And once you let go of the shoulds and obligatory traditions, engagements and gifts, you set yourself (and often pocketbook) free.  Consciously choosing to make the holiday manageable equates to a more enjoyable time for you and everyone around you.  Try it.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

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Don’t Jump in if You Don’t Want to Jump Out

Dr. Perry’s post on “Steps to Overcome Technology Addiction” confirms the feelings I’ve had about technology for a long time.  It is sadly deteriorating society, our peace, and our minds.  I wonder how this will affect the elderly when the tech generation rules.  How much empathy and compassion will be shown?  Will that be nonexistent like good manners?

More and more businesses and government herd people to the internet.  Blind “followers” are too willing to give up their personal information and freedoms.  I wonder what these techie minds will do when their computers are hacked.  Will they know how to think and problem solve on their own?  Seeing how people stumble into traffic while looking at their phones is a telltale sign.  People barely know their street address  or phone number anymore.

Many times I’d like to disconnect from e-mail as it robs me of precious time where I could be enjoying more fulfilling activities and interactions.  As previously shared, I’ve consciously chosen to avoid most social media for these and the reasons stated in the post.  Reading it reaffirms that my decisions have been worthy.  I hope reblogging it will help someone before they fall hopelessly into the black hole of disassociating with living real life.  I must continually uphold my values for connecting with humans and nature.  That is what brings me serenity and joy — not a nerve-wracking bell tieing me to a device even if it is only a PC.

Still, I don’t want to fall so far behind that I can no longer function in a technological world.  Trying to balance technology working for me without becoming enslaved to it is a constant struggle.  I use a landline and answering machine.  It works fine.  I don’t answer my pay as you go cell phone because it’s only for emergencies. When someone looks at me as not being “with it” then is distracted answering their cell phone or text, I wonder “who is the one not with it?” For a split second I may be tempted to fall into the traps of technology, but my go-to motto saves me: “Don’t jump in if you don’t want to jump out.”