Detox Me. Detox You. We’re an addict too.
Recently, I came across this statement:
“We are all suffering an overdose of other people’s lives.”
Wow. Talk about a dose of reality! And sadly, I couldn’t agree more. We have an over abundance of avenues at our disposal everyday; to peek in on thousands, if not hundreds of thousands (if only there was enough waking hours right?) of other people’s lives. Through the dozens of social media platforms, to individual blogs and websites, reality TV, (I use this term loosly) to Youtube, Vimeo, the list goes on, and on. Everywhere we turn, there is more of someone else’s life available to consume our own.
I am curious if this has become an overdose situation in your life as it has mine? Don’t get me wrong, I choose to “follow” certain friends and figures who are important to me, either personally or because I enjoy their message, their drug, what they put out to the world to be gobbled up by us twitchy, hungry, jones-ing consumers, who, often times, may even be our own loved ones. I have become a stand in line and wait my turn for my daily dose; even for those I once believed I knew intimately
(latin root: from intimus, innermost. English definition: in a close manner, with great or especially intimate knowledge.)
Yep, I am now in line with the “rest of ’em” for even just a pinch of the good stuff from those I once believed to be close relationships with friends and family. Its as if eagerly waiting for their faucet to start dripping, so we can all stick our heads under together for a few measly drops. But it tastes so good. Little snippets of our lives packaged as intimate relationships with each other. I’ve certainly bought in.
The question I suppose, is are these interactions of frenzied doping in mass quantities, even considered real relationships? What is real these days? And Is this what “real relationships” are moving towards from here on out?
Guilty confession alert: I have been known to send a text to my child in the next room on occasion. Simply because it was easier than taking the time to get up and find said child, and interact with him.
There I said it. My secret is out. Especially if the interaction involves something he’d be unlikely to want to do, and therefore would possibly result in a discussion that would be slightly uncomfortable for either of us. Because shoot, who wants that?! And so, I choose the overdosed, strung out, way out. Let me show you. Our in person convo might have gone something like this-
Me: (Stern voice) Son, I asked you to take the garbage out last night and you didn’t do it. Instead you played online with your buddies all evening and ignored me. (snotty voice) Therefore, I am revoking your privilege to be on the computer tonight, and you just bought yourself three more days of garbage-taking out duty. (Maybe some eye rolling here for good measure.)
Son might have replied: Mom that’s so unfair! (even bigger snotty voice) It was totally [Brother]’s turn! I remember you telling him he had to do it like for a whole week because he didn’t listen to you that one time or something. You never listen to me! I told you last night after you asked me, that it was his turn, because I have taken it out the past week like you asked, (my face twists a little with that one) and you said ok. (Did I, I think? Maybe, shoot. Flush face.) Don’t you remember? You were on Facebook or something. (Defense mode now. Where I protect my right like a junkie to my time with my vices, after all, I am the grown up and I know my limits)…..
And so this discussion goes down instead in a text this-
Me: Dude, you are so grounded from the computer tonight. Garbage is still totally sitting here inside the can, overflowing. Not outside like I asked. Done deal. No arguments. Love u. xx
His text reply: Not my fault, but fine. whatever. luv u 2.
The easier path of communicating has in some cases, become down right dangerous to the fragility of what the meaning of a relationship even is.
(Relationship, n. :the mutual dealings, connections, or feelings that exist between two parties. A state of connectedness between people, especially an emotional connection.)
And so I say to you-
HI, my name is Julie, and I am a technology abuser.
(Everyone) HI Julie.
Seriously though, have we mangled the nature of relationships into a task of finding the fastest route to feeding the quickest fix? Is it just about being doped up on as many people’s lives, mundane or profound as they might be, as is humanly possible to stuff into our 24 hour window? I know for me, part of the reason I may text or message or status or blog or tweet, rather than communicate directly is to avoid the uncomfortable. The looks on the faces when I disappoint, am inadvertently cruel; otherwise known these days as “honest,” or generally show a lack of emotional empathy, would be unbearable to face, well face to face, in the quantity of relationships I consume on the daily. I just want to stay cocooned behind my screens of varying shapes and sizes and imagine that everything I say/write/post and snap a picture of is delivered exactly as intended. That way I can connect (get my fix) with as many as possible, by doing as little as possible. Total junkie style. Too bad if my intended message gets distorted, at least I don’t have to deal with your reaction in real life, right?
Such was the case with my son. I ignored the fact that my boy felt unheard, and unappreciated by his mother. By choosing to text my child instead of seeing the emotions on his face, hearing it in his voice, and letting him see mine- and truly fixing it, I missed something. Instead I was focused on fixing my need to hurry along the interaction; I chose the easy way out. And I would say for every one of us, that by doing this relationship thing fast and easy, we are missing everything. In those moments, I am missing the man my son is becoming by accepting responsibility, the character he is building by accepting a punishment his brother more justly deserved, and the inner persona he’s building by acknowledging that his mom doesn’t have time to actually talk with him face to face about something as mundane, as simple, as vital to his heart’s construction, as taking out the trash. Nope, I’m much too busy getting my fix than fixing; checking my updates from my dealers. So many touching life quotes. “The words you speak to your children become their inner voice.” Liking that one! Tagging my mom friends, they will totally get it! So many people I need to check in on. Where is the time? Wait, where did the time go? Did I consume enough today to get my fill? Man, I feel so inspired, wired, alive, fried, burnt out.
Makes me wonder how much longer this easy fix will work? Are you feeling overloaded and overdosed yet? Because I admit it, I sure am.
But how do we change things when its sooo much easier and faster to communicate (get that fix) from the droves of people we count and add to be “in” our life? And as if by some contest, we proudly display our count. I have 9,56864 “friends” and 1,977,545,634,76583 “followers” in my total constructed profiles, how about you? What you are saying is I managed to create an overdose of my life this many times over… and likewise since these are all the people I consider to have a “relationship” with, they can see me (or my profile of what I want them to see) too. They can overdose on my life right back… right? Sure maybe not all of them will pay attention to the stuff I am peddling, but at least since we are connected, they could, when they need their fix, right? We are all basically saying to each other: Look how many people’s faucets I can stick my head under and get a few measly drops from, and pretend that is enough of intimacy and relationships. All the while those who we actually know intimately, are left waiting for us to get our acts together. To dry out, sober up and take responsibility for the wake of destruction we’ve created in these real relationships, and FIX them.
I challenge us all to find 3 ways to turn the faucet down today. Maybe that’s a friend or follower/following cleanse. Maybe its giving yourself a text vacation today, or a total data usage vacation (phone use only, as in the voice on one end, yours on the other, kind.) Maybe its just stepping away from the computer/phone/tablet and finding someone in your life whose feelings you know you’ve been neglecting a bit lately during your latest binge.
Let’s free ourselves from the addiction of connection overdose. One step at a time, right? How many of them are there again? Let’s say at least one for today.
Step one. Unplug today. Don’t worry, just for today. You can do it. Baby steps.
~Construct a Life, not a profile.
While looking for the right images for this post, I came across these two sites. Powerful stuff.