My new mantra these days is “Focus.” I don’t know about you, but I find it harder and harder to stay focused. Distractions are everywhere, especially with cell phones an arm’s length away. These tiny devices promise to transport us away from the moment, taking us into a world of words, people, ideas, and emotions.
Don’t get me wrong. I love words and ideas, but sometimes I wish I didn’t have such ready access to all these bits and bytes of information that swirl around in a cacophonous soundtrack in my brain. The question is how do we turn off the incessant chatter?
Some folks don’t want to turn it off. Checking email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and who-knows-what else has become an addiction. Millennials, for example, are attached to their cell phones with an umbilical-like urgency. Without this constant feed of information, I don’t think they’d know what to do with their time.
Next time you are out in public, check out how many people are interacting with their phones: talking, texting, looking. Maybe they stop for a few seconds, but the pull of the device lures them back.
I guess it’s how our brains are wired. We love information, and we want more and more. But where does all this information go? It gets socked away in our brains, filling every nook and cranny, until it feels like we are going to crash and burn. Information overload strikes again.
I find myself longing for the days before cell phones when life seemed slower-paced, and we could enjoy being in the moment. Sadly, there’s no going back to that simpler time. The information age is here to stay. My guess is it’s only going to get worse. There’s talk of little voices in our heads reminding us of appointments, birthdays, and deadlines. I shudder at the thought. I have enough voices in my head without Siri popping up, telling me to do.
So how to we avoid succumbing to the Siren call of our phones and computers? I’m glad you asked. Here’s one idea: go to your local library or nearby bookstore, turn your phone off, and spend some time with books. Remember those? Oh and don’t forget the magazines. Sit and feel the smooth paper in your hands and let yourself savor the crinkling sound when you turn the page. I’ll admit I’m biased toward old-fashioned print. No e-reader for me, thanks. I look at screens all day long for work and don’t want to stare at them during my time off. No, thank you!
Make a point of disconnecting from screens this month and encourage your loved ones to do the same. Find an activity you can focus on—cooking, playing Frisbee, practicing yoga—and put your cell phone away. Taking a break from the bits and bytes allows us to reconnect with what’s real, what matters.
Information is important only when it adds meaning to your life. Otherwise, it’s just chatter, and I for one am ready for some quiet. Hope you find some peace and quiet this month.