In the last few months, I have conversed with two different young people (both mid-twenties) who told me they do not have computers, barely text, and don’t have smart phones. I found my mouth literally ajar. “Really?” I said, “But how do know what’s happening in your area and stuff?” One of them said “Oh, yeah, I’m going to a Permaculture class next week.” And I said, “Yes, like that, how did you find out about it?” She said, “A friend told me about it.” I was fairly stunned. “But don’t you need to check your email?” She said, “Well, I check it once every few weeks but I don’t have to.” I know this sounds stupid but I was thrown. “But how do you keep in touch with your friends if you don’t text very much?” She said, “I don’t need to be in touch with many people during the day, I just call someone if I need to make a plan, but I don’t have to make that many plans.” I was just amazed. Me, this oldish person. Even though I grew up without cells phones or computers, I am now, plenty fucked with technology.
This other young women said similar things like “Technology doesn’t make me feel good, so I don’t engage with it very much.” Or, “I just like to live my life instead of read about it.” I felt (appropriate) shame over my personal tech dependency, immediate addiction withdrawal, and surprisingly, I felt A LOT of envy. “Really?” I must have said like 80 times.
I was wistfully reminded of my technology-free childhood. My parents were very anti-TV. Some of my fondest memories were sitting outside my house on the lawn, quietly singing, when I was quite small. I also scribbled, that was a big thing. I listened to 8 track tapes while spacing out on my bed. I’m pretty sure that’s how I became a songwriter. I know this sounds a bit cliché but the cell phone/computer thing has really fucked a lot of that kind of thing up, at least for me. If I didn’t have a 4 year old who demands my eye contact and presence, I might be truly lost.
With my daughter, I put my phone away for big chunks. I turn the evil thing off and focus. I want her to feel open attention, curiosity, and timelessness like I did when I was young. And guess what, I want to feel that way too!!!! Even more importantly, I don’t want her to feel she is constantly competing with something over there, something that is always calling and beeping for her Mama, something so gripping that I can’t finish my sentences or relax without checking it (50 times) in an hour. I don’t want to teach her to be distracted from her body, her senses, her heart…the way I get…sometimes.
Even with my very serious commitment to being with my girl unplugged, I’m still very much an addict. The young women I talked to awoke a deep longing in me to start again. I told one of them that I was inspired and she said “Do it, let the thing go.” I nodded like a kid in a candy store. “Yeah, I said, I should.” I sounded just like a drinker.
Maybe young people are not all brainwashed. I’m happy to say I know 2 who are not. Thank the heavens; the numb adults are not winning across the board. Maybe uninterrupted, undivided time still exists for large amounts of people everywhere. Please tell me your stories of fresh time, fresh air, fresh discoveries of returning to yourself. I’d like to join you. I’m heading that way.
Rythea Lee is the host of the humorous and healing online show Advice from a Loving Bitch. She hopes you will check it and get hooked despite the equally strong hope you’ll smash your computer. Go to: https://youtu.be/-QWHh-B2XQ8