Tune Out. Turn Off. Drop In.

by Carol Hess on April 30, 2012

I’m a baby boomer – just as much a child of the 60’s and the tune in, turn on, drop out generation as the next guy.  Just like all my baby boomer friends, I don’t want to get old.  I tell myself every day that 60 is the new 50 (or even 40 when I’m feeling particularly wistful and wishful).

But I’m going to put on my Old Fuddy Dud hat and have myself a good rant.  And I don’t care if it makes me appear hopelessly out of touch, stuck in a time warp, or shockingly antiquated.  So there!

 

(Note:  If you don’t like blog posts that rant and rave, you might want to stop reading now.)

Has the whole world gone certifiably insane?  More to the point, have you gone certifiably insane?

Open your eyes!  Can’t you see the emperor is bare-assed naked?  So naked he’s about to die of the cold?

And how can you ignore the elephant in your living room?  It’s not just sitting there.  It’s destroying your home.

Our planet has never been more connected, thanks to technology.  We have the ability to communicate instantaneously with just about anyone in the world, also thanks to technology.  We have more labor-saving and time-saving devices at our disposal than ever before, again thanks to technology.

And yet we are as miserable, desperate, and discontent as any world population has ever been on this planet.  Profoundly, deeply unhappy despite all our connection, communication, toys, and technology.  Why?

Because most of our connection to each other, to our world, and perhaps even to ourselves is a technology-inspired connection.  It’s not a soul-inspired connection.

Because emails, text messages, social media tweets and, yes, even blog posts rarely promote heart-to-heart human communication.  They promote safe, arms-length, mechanistic communication.

Because those so-called labor-saving devices create a different kind of labor called being in touch 24 hours a day.  To say nothing of the labor involved in keeping up with and learning how to use the latest, greatest, best, fastest, newest technology the marketers are telling you (and especially your children) you must have.

And what about all the time the toys and devices are supposed to save you?  How’s that working for you?  Do you feel less stressed, less overwhelmed, less pressured?  Do you have more time?

Imagine you are from planet Carolonia – a far-distant planet from a far-distant galaxy but a planet not that different to Earth.  And even though you’re a Carolonian, you are really quite similar to earthlings – just perhaps a bit more intelligent.

You land on Earth and take a look around.  Hmm.  It seems many of this planet’s denizens walk around with funny little things in their ears, rendering them deaf to the voices of those around them.  How strange.  Perhaps they communicate through those little things in their ears.

And then there are the people who are sitting with their heads bent over a flat box they are holding in their hands.  Their thumbs are moving so fast and furiously that your thumbs ache in sympathy.  Oh, look at that!  A woman who was doing that thing with her thumbs just stepped off the curb, right in front of a car.

Ah, here we go.  This is a bit more like it.  Some earthlings are seated at a table with food in front of them.  This could be Carolonia except, of course, no one is green.  And the food smells kind of weird.

That’s strange.  No one is looking at or talking to each other.  They are holding little boxes out in front of them and talking to the boxes.  Or they’re holding little boxes to their ears and talking.  Why do they talk to the little boxes instead of each other?  Wow!  They are eating so fast.  They must be late for something important.

You have been told to observe the earthlings in their homes.  So you do.  People are sitting in different rooms staring into different boxes.  It’s really quite odd.  Moving images and sounds are coming out of the boxes.  But that’s the only sign of life in the whole house – just what’s going on inside the boxes.

The folks back home in Carolonia are never going to believe it.

+++

And we wonder why we’re so miserable.

We are going, going, going at a breakneck pace.  Notice I didn’t say living.  We have developed a 9-second attention span – probably just a little bit longer than your average mouse’s and definitely shorter than your average dog’s.  Think about it.  Your pet can stay focused longer than you can.

We are always on call, always reachable, always at the end of the technology tether.  Vacation consists of vacation with hubby, the kids, the smart phone, the iPad, the charger, the battery back-up.  Did I forget anything?

I live in Maine in the United States.  We’ve just been voted the most peaceful state in the country.  Guess what?  Some parts of Maine don’t just have lousy cell phone coverage, they have none at all.  Some parts don’t just have dial-up internet service, they have none at all.  Most peaceful state in the country.  Think about it.  How peaceful are you?

(My cousin rents out summer cottages – no cell phone, no internet.  I’m just sayin’. . . . )

Because I live in the most peaceful state in the United States and because I’m a member of the tune in, turn on, drop out generation, I think that entitles me to give you the following advice:

Tune out.  Turn off.  Drop in.

Tune out the messages that tell you to work, work, work and buy, buy, buy and run, run run.  Stop moving and get still.  Less emphasis on doing and more emphasis on being.

Turn off the marketing messages, the music, and the machines.  Most of all turn off the voices that keep you running in the wheel of the cage called your life.  Get quiet.  Listen to the soft whispers of wisdom coming from your soul.

Drop in to your life, your relationships, yourself while you still have them.  Please, please, please don’t settle for second-best connection, second-best communication, second-best living.

You deserve more.

by Carol Hess

11 comments

Categories Carol's Musings, Community, Life Balance, Stress Management, The Art of Star Polishing

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar KCLAnderson (Karen) April 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Where in Maine do you live? I’ve been going there (from CT) since I was a kid and when I was older, my Dad and his family moved there (Boothbay area). My sister lived in Portland for a time. And now my mother and her husband live in Searsport.

Anyway, back to your post. Guilty as charged, although I do have to say that the internet has brought me so many wonderful “real life” relationships, including my marriage!! I really do have to force myself to spend less time in front of the “box” (remember when it used to be the TV? I don’t even watch it any more)

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avatar Carol Hess April 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I live just north of Portland, Karen — used to live on the Blue Hill peninsula and Deer Isle (past Searsport). Just finished talking to Jules who is talking about getting together when she comes east. Your name was mentioned specifically. :)

I haven’t been on the internet long enough to have turned internet friends into “real relationships” yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve met some amazing, amazing people. Of course there’s a good side to technology. I think the key here is moderation. In fact, it’s interesting how important moderation is in — well — everything. Perhaps I should try to exercise it one of these days. LOL

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avatar Stephanie April 30, 2012 at 1:11 pm

There you go, reading my mind again. I heard that about you.

Interesting that I’m considering an electronic media diet in the very near future. Never mind that they say diets don’t work. I believe this one will, as I bask in some solitude, maybe read a book (that I can hold in my hands), and listen to that still small voice that is probably hoarse from trying to get my attention.

Thanks, Carol, from one baby boomer to another. xoxo

Reply

avatar Carol Hess April 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm

You’re welcome, Steph. We baby boomers (or aging hippies — I actually think I prefer that description) have got to stick together. Now it’s your turn to read my mind. I’ve been thinking of an electronic media diet myself, but I probably oughta start with that big, ugly box in my living room called the television.

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avatar Janet Slack April 30, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Beautifully said, Carol. As a native of the most peaceful state (living in exile), I can agree that we all seem to be loosing our perspective. None of those little boxes ever made us happy – just entertained or distracted. Give me some real people and some real nature! Thanks for ranting this for all of us!

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avatar Carol Hess April 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm

So you know, Janet, that “Maine, the way life should be” is not just a sign but the truth! I’m sure there are other nice places to be in exile — I mean to live. :) You make a great distinction — the difference between happiness and entertainment/distraction. I actually think the little boxes are the escape mechanisms many of us use so we won’t feel how unhappy we are. Escaping or trying to escape feelings never works for long — except for the people selling the escape mechanisms of course.

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avatar Jerri Shankler April 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm

I love a rant!

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avatar Carol Hess April 30, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Why doesn’t that surprise me, Jerri? :)

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avatar Ann alka WorkingBoomer May 1, 2012 at 1:32 pm

You said it ALL! Yes, I agree! Actually you used humor to stress a very serious point. A point that I hope people get before it is too late. Thank you for the post.

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avatar Carol Hess May 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I agree, Ann. It is a serious point. Heaven forbid we end up on our deathbeds and realize we were too busy with our various boxes to live our lives and love the people close to us. Thanks for joining the conversation.

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