It’s unplugged night at the Blue Moose Coffee House and I have gone for my cell phone about 300 times. It’s like an annoying itch I can’t scratch, while I’m sitting here alone. I have a book in front of me, a room full of people and a stellar, if not “special” blueberry tea complete with a lemon wedge.
There is a desperate gnawing in my head — I’m experiencing what feels like a sense of vertigo, as I realize I must sit here without any Wi-Fi, cell phone, or interfacing.
What should a girl do? Then I realize I have the most amazing anthology sitting on my lap, none other than Yale resident and literary genius Bill Kinsella’s latest anthology, which I might actually get a chance to read, once my brain stops gnawing at me.
It’s relentless, it’s eating me alive — the impulse to grab my cell phone to text, to check Facebook, in fact the impulse to do anything with my thumbs is nauseating.
It’s tearing at me like an insatiable hunger, as the disaronno in my blueberry tea is slowly easing into my brain, and I try and think about how people communicated years before — how did they deal with days and nights when they weren’t plugged in, tuned in and tuned out?
How did they survive when there was no cyber space to surf, providing an instant portal twenty-four hours a day to transcend time and space?
I think to myself in a limited 21st century expression of who wouldn’t want instant gratification, a sense of control — all of this technology giving us a false sense of control over something that is uncontrollable, even inconceivable — our own mortality.
My theory is this.
It’s not the fear of disaster or inter-intra planetary chaos — it is the fear of our own mortality, but yet, this constant checking out of one’s own reality is transforming the scope and quality of this reality (whatever this reality means.) And truly I say, what defines this reality anyway and who decides?
One common idea is that we are potentially shortening our lifespans, as we stay glued to our technological devices and though they might be heady, powerful and intoxicating — they might be considered an addiction by some, like the continual and long term usage of a stiff, hard, drink, possibly destroying our livers, even going as far as polluting our systems ( I think of the disaronno, I’m sipping.)
Much like the over use of technology this might induce sensory overload, contributed by a constant bombardment or stream of images that our brains cannot possibly, or easily comprehend (perhaps this is generational.)
The definition of mental illness has progressed along with the changing of the times, including mass extended labels of ADHD, dissociative and anti-social behaivours and perhaps these are a sign of the times, or correlative.
These definitions might be seen as parallel with tuning in and checking out from one plane of reality to another, while we surf from one topic, or one headline, or even one image to the next.
I guess it all depends on one’s perception.
Perhaps the advent of the digital age is the new reality, a semi-virtual existence that exists in tandem with the physical space we inhabit, but perhaps these lines are being blurred, and are intertwining as an extension of one another.
But, we don’t want to become reactionary and pull out the pitchforks and do away with technology – we might actually just want to unplug ( a little self-imposed technological time out) once and awhile like the Blue Moose and try a little discretionary balance.
We might even realize that we have the power to walk away from the computer screen for a minute, put our cell phones down and choose to be present in this physical moment.
This type of action might even allow us to make a real human connection that involves someone in front of us, or in my case a W.P. Kinsella Anthology.
What I realize after this semi-blueberry tea inspired rant is that I am slowing down and the gnawing has stopped and I’m beginning to get into the moment here at the Moose.
Shocking, I’m beginning to just enjoy where I’m at as I observe the people around me and yes, I recognize a friend coming over.
I might even have time for some of the face-to-face communication of a bygone era and the chance to listen to a live musician.