Though we describe most of our gadgets mobile, there is nothing mobile about them. We still slow down or stop to use most of them. What is really meant by ‘mobile’ when it comes to gadgets is portable. We can bring them alongside us wherever we go. Which means there is a high probability of us stopping or slowing down just to attend to them. Some claim that this ‘mobile’ gadgetry improves productivity, or it increases convenience, or it improves network connections and contacts. Others claim the opposite - they make us spend lots of valuable time for useless tasks, they are convenient but we have been convenient before (without them), and they increase our connections which literally decreases our attention and concentration on areas of utmost importance, such as safe driving or spending quality time with people who really matter to us, like family and close friends.
That is the reason I have never been comfortable with the Internet and Social Media. I remember we had the same issues with the emergence of radio, TV, VHS players, walkmans in the old days. The anti-technology people accuse new technologies as taking a lot of meaningful times that could have been spent in something much more useful such as saving the earth.
For me, the new techs and mobile gadgets are alright. What is not alright is when we get addicted to them allowing them to take most of our waking hours. Sure, if you were like me who is taking IT as a second Bachelor’s degree, it’s probably alright spending a lot of time with learning computer languages and web designing. And if not…
I discovered how wasteful social media is when I unwittingly declared my BIRTHDAY on Facebook and despite my sub- hundred friends, I received a lot of birthday greetings and they looked like real greetings. First I got excited being remembered and then I felt compelled to respond to all. I am sure most of my FB friends didn’t mind a no-return thanks to every greeting they post but I belong to the old school where at least I say thank you for every act of kindness (and greetings are some of them). The following day I took part in a race and posted some pictures about the race, I don't know what happened to me but I was looking for ‘likes’ and checking out other friends I haven’t heard for a while and soon I was researching all the other names I could recall that were not even in my Friends’ list. You who use FB know what I am talking about. Along the way came remembrances and memories and recollections that took my entire day.
All my plans for the day evaporated into the darkness as night approached and I started blaming myself for wasting so much valuable time. Now I understand why most of my friends, mostly males, do not have Facebook accounts. Or they have them through their spouses. Some of them have had FB accounts that haven’t been updated for years. And I can see where they are coming from.
Some of us over the age of fifty know the feeling when we first heard a radio or watched TV or listened to stereo or watched a video cassette on VHS player or even, in my case, used a phone. Prior to all that, however, and I am not saying all of us had this experience, we had nothing to mechanically entertain us except the toys or things we created mechanically. When I was a young boy, even radio and TV stations were limited in their playtimes (none of these 24/7 kind of play times from cable channels or DIsh networks we have today) so I remember days when we went out to the street and with excitement created and played out games. Outside.
In both high school and college, I did not have any access to any gadget, TV or radio on account of me being poor. So - I too - entertained myself either by reading books or roaming around. I was a roamer in my youth and that is perhaps the reason I still look forward to the hours I spend running everywhere. I am just pursuing my old habit of roaming albeit I do it faster nowadays.
But it saddens me when humanity have lost its desire to roam and interact in small yet deeper manner. Today, most of us interact with larger audience but conducted in very shallow relationships. You ‘like’ something and a second later you ‘like’ another thing. It is what computer programmers’ call agile way of looking at things. We try something, get an instant response and modify our action based on that response. Which is what human interaction really is all about but when you do this with a hundreds of your FB friends at the same time, the quality of that interaction suffers.
That is why, today before going to my run in the Park, the moment I got tempted to grab my Iphone to get to my FB, my mind said No way, Jose. I stuck my Iphone in my pocket, brought with me my Garmin watch and spent two hours in the park jogging, walking, sprinting, just like a child. Sometimes, I just want to be a child again. But there is a little caveat: I listened to Pandora and checked my Garmin watch frequently.
There is no human interaction in running but I had a BIG interaction with Nature. At least I managed to stay away from Facebook. I did 9 miles of running play, I went home to take a shower and did my planned business for the day and then went straight to the bookstore when all my tasks were done. I came home bringing some discounted books about health and slept.
In fact, I thought of writing this piece while I was sitting in the bookstore watching people roam among bookshelves and sitting on chair drinking latte while reading and (of course others were staring at their laptops).
I thought I had a productive day.
Running total = 9 miles (3 miles pace, 6 miles slow jog)