With the start of our Spring Break staycation, I’m determined to be productive – begin Spring lean and clean. So, not only are the rooms getting a once over, so is my computer (or at least some of it) – which is where I found today’s post. Hiding in a sea of open docs. Written, but never posted.
Suffice it to say, I might have a bit of not-again going on this staycation. Usually I don’t mind, maybe even embrace, staying at home over Spring Break, not so much this year. I think I could use some ocean or mountain views – and after finding this post that I wrote and forgot to post – I can guess why. But I’m glad I didn’t post it, because I needed the reminder. Especially as my mind eyes might tempt me to see the grass as greener, when I know without a shadow of a doubt good/great is at hand at all times – usually in the form of people.
I have a love-hate relationship with my computer.
I love how it simplifies and streamlines so many aspects of life. I also love the way it connects me to people, information and the world. I just might get all of my news from Twitter/Facebook. (Shout-out thanks to BBC, US News, etc for the info and to friends for posting thought-provoking articles and to Denison Forum for keeping it relevant and real :)
But with it comes something unsettling.
I woke with it on my mind.
As I thought about it this morning, wondering where my day yesterday went off track – because it did – the evidence pointed to my computer. Not the machine itself, but some of the traps that come with extreme-connectedness. Broad, but shallow, connectedness. As if we’re known, but not known.
My yesterday started early, as it usually does. I got up and went downstairs to light the fire and have a quiet moment to myself. As the kids began to get up for school, I hopped in the car and raced to grab some bagels from Einstein – where the funniest, nicest guy helps folks in the morning. I told the kids about him when I got back.
“So I’m ordering the bagels, see – ” Check … yes, someone is listening – as if that has ever affected my decision to talk/not talk.
“And, I’m not sure the guy behind the register is even awake. RG (Register Guy) takes my order, monotone-responding as I give it to him. But the man racing about behind RG putting the orders together is hilarious – always making people laugh.” He’s a short Mexican man with an infectious smile. His eyes literally twinkle as he brightens every person’s day. Usually by cracking corny Spanish jokes.
“So this morning,” I chuckle just thinking about it, “he hands me my bag – that he had already filled the minute I walked in the door since he knows my order – and says with a sly smile, ‘Here you go, Señora, seis tamales.’ And I laugh. – You know, they’re bagels not tamales.”
No one thinks this is funny. But I do.
“I know it’s Dumphy… but come on. Sometimes he tells me they’re tacos.”
Still no laughter.
“Okay, so then he points at RG, a 6’2” white guy with glasses who is still dead-pan taking orders, and smiling-says, ‘This is mi hijo.’ Then shrug-nodding he adds, ‘His mother makes me bring him to work with me.’”
Now kids are chuckling, too.
“Laughing, I ask RG ‘Is he always this funny?’ The guy rolled his eyes and droned sarcastically, ‘Yes.’”
“He’s corny,” I tell the kids, “but hilarious. And just makes me smile. What a great way to start the day.”
And, my happy thinking lasted several hours. But something started to change as I sat at my computer to get so many things done that needed to be done.
My mood shifted. I don’t think it was something in particular. I’m pretty sure it was just gradual. In the midst of getting tasks completed, I would take a break here and there for emails and to check out social media. The view was good and pretty and so not-complicated – at least in their world. Surface brush-strokes of life. And, somewhere along the way, nagging feelings of discontent began popping up.
Granted, several of the things I needed to get done would never make my Top Ten List of Fun Things To Do. I’m finishing final edits for I’m Happy For You and gathering together a few folks (“influencers” as they are known) to read the close-to-final-product for possible endorsement. I really can’t think of anything less pleasant than asking people, several of whom I do not know, to read something I’ve written and to tell other people how much they like it. It’s a tiny bit awkward. Hi. You don’t know me. But will you like me? And then tell all your friends to like me too? My task also involves asking/emailing certain friends: Would you mind asking your influential friend if they will like me and tell all their friends they like me? Which is weird on so many levels.
And I guess in all this, I began to let my interaction with my computer (my phone is the same) start to sink my soul – without even knowing it. Granted this particular day’s exercise made it on steroids, but we do that every day. Response/no-repsonse. Likes/no-likes. Shares/no-shares. Emails from an actual person/spam-mail.
Thousands of “friends”, information overload, tens of dozens of email messages from “people” we’ve never met. And we delete and discard-spam all while refreshing the browser to see if anyone real has responded or reached out to check in. Living out loud in this super-connected world that doesn’t feel very connected. It can make someone feel a little disconnected and unsettled – a little alone in a sea of many.
Which is how I felt by the time afternoon rolled around.
So I closed my computer and went swimming, my new form of exercise. I needed a re-boot. On the way to the pool, I called my friend Nancy and told her that I felt a bit stressed. I had to say it to someone. And by the time I finished my laps, she had text-thrown me a life-line: “Meet at Ann’s for dessert at 8.” Which I did.
No more broad, shallow, connectedness. But deep connectedness with real people that goes further than the surface – even enough to talk about the traps of shallow. And it was good. It was real. It was relationship.
My day started with real people. And ended with real people. The start was with an acquaintance. The end with life-long friends. Either – a good way to add depth, through live interaction, to this widely-connected world. Something worth considering amidst the rising tide of anonymity.
Thanks for walking the road with me.