I have become comfortably numb.
Interestingly, before I began writing this post I had intended it to be about my new-ish rediscovery of myself made possible by withdrawing from social media and tech-nections, and the why and how of that. As I started searching for a title and shaping its first sentence, as so often happens, I realized I was writing (thinking) about much more than having deleted my Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, etcetera, and turning off my “smart-phone” for at least twelve of every twenty-four hours.
Thus, the first sentence. Written on my desktop (as opposed to my laptop) and with it, the ability to search the sentence on Google because – while I could sort of half-remember the tune I had no idea where or who or, well, I know, and I apologize to those of you reading who are rock fans, but I was primarily a musical theatre lover with detours into punk and new wave. So, I went to my technection and found this:
I’m sure you knew. Pink Floyd. Comfortably Numb from 1979’s double album “The Wall” – thank you Wikipedia((CLICK HERE)).
Which is to say, I’m not in the least technophobic. I love the access. I love the possibility. I love the way the ability to connect has opened up the world.
What I don’t like is that – FOR ME AND ME ONLY – all of that connection made it too easy to distance myself from real life and real communication and sharing of emotion. And, what was worse, I was being badly affected by the public relation “spins” people publish about their own lives.
I have been talking for years about the ways in which people have been investing more energy in developing a social media footprint and reputation – the avatar they become – rather than the person they actually are. In fact, some of my deepest and most prolonged discussions about this very thing were with someone who eventually seemed (to me, from the distance at which I was put and kept) to surrender – embrace, even – a social media persona at the cost of a soul and the truth of their core.
I also noticed that person (and others) who seemed most “removed” from what I understood their souls to be, and reliant on cultivating a techno-image, a social persona – often also had substance use issues.
In actuality, once I had chosen a life of casual-hermit-dom, having my only connection to many people I once knew be the posts they made on social media gave me to believe that many people were happily abandoning the truth of who they were that they might cultivate followers and technolarity.
I get that. Life is hard. An examined life is harder. And what social media and smart phones and dvrs and the preponderance of devices that keep us connected to so many streams of information and people all the time do best is give us the opportunity NOT TO THINK, not to examine, not to be with ourselves, within ourselves, at our cores, being in the moment who we are.
And I was in pain. Not just from being disconnected from myself, but, also, from pretending that Facebook chats and texts counted as relationships with people who I still loved, who still wanted to talk to me. And watching people spin themselves and be images instead of human beings, well, that also hurt me.
So, I turned things off. And now, I also turn my phone off for hours every day. I disconnect myself (mostly) from all the outside streams, and explore – through writing and reading and exercising and being with myself and with others – the stream of this moment, who I am, who we are, now.
I have also made “appointments” with people I love. I call those people “friends” and I get together with them, face to face, regularly, and look them in the eyes and talk about the things that might once have turned into Facebook posts. And since we are talking, face to face, soul to soul, the twenty-five word post leads to a two hour discussion full of asides and explorations and discursive explosions of soul-sharing joy.
I am beginning to feel alive again. Which makes me – interestingly – numb to the influence social media streams once had on me, and, since almost all of my conversations and connections are in person, in real time, dealing with another person’s eyes and feelings, I think I am kinder (again). I like this being turned off from techno-world.
And if you would LIKE to reach me, I can still be emailed at MiracleCharlie@aol.com and I am happy to talk to people there. And, when I turn my phone on, I do get texts. And I answer. And I am still on Twitter, for now anyway, @miraclecharlie.
So, yes, that sort of turned off is good, alas, there is another turned off with which I am dealing of which I am not so fond … but that is for another column under another name which is another story … happy Friday. Love, Charlie (and a soupcon of Sebastian)