The biggest complaint I hear from folks, young and old alike, is that there just isn’t enough time in the day to do all the important stuff. Not enough time to exercise, plan, write, create, go on vacation, discover our talents, etc. Our collective sense of urgency in the 21st century has many of us racing around daily like bunch of lab rats in an unending existential crisis.
But we are inventors, doers and multi-taskers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s certainly helped us survive—and as I sit down to write this, I’ve thrown a load of laundry in. We pride ourselves on our ability to get things done, but what happens when the list of things gets too overwhelming? Do we just move faster?
I hark back to my post-World War II grandparents. My grandmother was content inserting a microchip into a piece of machinery on an assembly line at Raytheon Corporation for twenty years. It beat the deafening, gruesome hours at the textile mill, and it provided a pension and the ability for my grandparents to literally burn their mortgage after 20 years.
But those were the days of burnable mortgages. Now we’re in debt up to our eyeballs, with no light at the end of the tunnel.
A job that may have seemed mundane to many, especially nowadays, had an ending for my grandparents.
Recently, I was having a conversation with someone about creativity. I had the realization that, it’s not so much that we don’t have enough time, but more so that we’re living in double time. Everything has a double imperative attached to it. We go to a show, we go apple-picking—- we eat a meal, for crying out loud, and we have to archive it on seven social networks. I’m guilty of it myself. This is the first time in my life I find myself taking the time to enter my schedule into my phone. I used to just keep track of things…. with my brain. Remember those days?
We get mad at a situation and rather than hashing it out with a friend face-to-face, we lodge our complaints into a ubiquitous box on a ubiquitous social platform where we are probably tracking our ubiquitous followers.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this trend, but people aren’t talking on the phone anymore. Many would rather text. It’s convenient and yet I feel it’s extremely confounding and disconnected.
We are social animals. We need interaction. I need interaction. Our synapses don’t fire right if we don’t talk to a human or experience nature. That’s just my theory. I’m not a neuroscientist. A while back, however, I read a study by Neuro-economist Paul J. Zak (Claremont Graduate University) who said he had discovered, and scientifically proven for the first time, that social networking triggers the release of the feel-good hormone, Oxytocin, which is the hormone which triggered during a mother’s labor and delivery, also known as the “hugging-hormone”. I don’t know if I agree with his findings. Truthfully, I don’t even know what a Neuro-economist is–sounds like he wants me to buy stuff. All I know is I feel much more human when I spend time with my family up in New Hampshire. I barely look at my phone. My head resumes its 90- degree angle and I am actually more productive.
In my recent interview with jazz legend David Amram, in regard to Jack Kerouac he said that the biggest sin one can commit in America is “falling out of fashion.”
I believe we are less concerned with losing time than we are with losing relevancy, which is why many of us check our follower stats, keep track of our likes, post pictures of us doing stuff, important stuff. I believe we don’t want to be forgotten. We want our words and thoughts and actions to be archived and seen. More so than a desire to be liked, although that’s probably a huge part of it, we don’t want to fall into the deep ravine of obscurity. This is a hard task, especially considering the fact that we’re in constant competition with a kazillion tumblrs, tweets, facebook updates, linkedin endorsements. We are living in an ocean of constant plugs.
Maybe it’s time to unplug a little, give yourself a break. Go talk to a human. Go look at a star. You have time. And no one has to know except you.