I read a recent report that said Millennials would rather physically lose a finger then give up
their smart phones for a month. That’s scary and worse – proof that since the internet, we’ve all become news junkies, addicted to instant content 24/7. We’ve become like Pavlov’s Dog. Every time we hear a ‘ping’ we look at our screens. It doesn’t help that the pithy tease words in the drop down (designed by professionals) say things like “Emergency…only 4 more days left until…”
Wait, until what? What’s at the end of that dot, dot, dot?
We click and then…down the rabbit whole we fall.
Two weeks ago, I counted how many drop downs I got on my phone in a single day. It was over 40! Ping-a-Poloozoa.
I then looked at my emails only to realize that more than half of them were notices from feeds I’d signed up from years ago. Ping, Ping, Ping! Then there’s social media notices. Ping, Ping, OMG Ping, Ping!
All in all, I was getting almost 80 pings a day on information I either didn’t ask for or stuff I didn’t even care about anymore. So, I began the slow process of not just deleting (like I usually do) but ACTUALLY “unsubscribing” too. I soon discovered that this is not an easy exercise.
Since most feeds don’t want you to opt-out they bury the unsubscribe link in the tiny fine print in the basement of their sites so it’s practically impossible to find. Then they have the nerve to ask why I’m unsubscribing with yet, another form to fill out? Seriously? None of your damn business pal!
Well, the truth is, I asked for it didn’t I? My years of “Sure, send me more info about this and that,” had caught up with me.
As I was going through this mind-numbing “leave me alone” exercise, I began to see just how much fear-based information I was forced to wade through every single day. Here I’d spent so much time trying to keep needless anxiety to a bare minimum for myself, you all, and yet I couldn’t help glancing over every time the next ping sounded.
Abortion rights news…Ping
Human Rights news…ping
I mean God forbid I’m not in the loop. It’s not that these things aren’t important, but did I really need to follow every single step of the conversations, all the speculations, all the hate rebuttals, the political spins and the snarky (usually uninformed) public reactions and their inane chatter?
The answer was, “Um? NO!”
As I embarked on my communications overhaul, I put the TV on the YouTube channel and played one of those “Ocean Wave” segments. You know, the kind where you see a beach scene and hear the crashing waves for like 10 hours?
I was immediately calmed and then totally surprised when the video came to an end. Wait! What? Had it taken ten hours to purge my computer and I’m still not done? Aaaaaaaaa!
Honestly, all said and done, this information purge was the most important thing I’ve done for my own sanity in quite a while, and I will tell you this—it will be cold day in hell before I sign up for another damn notice. That is for sure.
As the night descended, my Honey came home from work and we did what we usually do…decompress while trolling through the bazillion streaming feeds, looking for something to watch…to escape into, to clear our heads. But even that, I realized, was getting more dangerous with each passing month. If the ‘Donna Reed show’ or ‘Father Knows Best’ were on the air today, the episode titles might Read: “Donna decapitates a zombie in the back yard with her cake spatula as unbeknownst to her, her daughter is upstairs losing her virginity.”
As we flipped from one show to the next, filled with images that cannot be unseen and language that would make a truck driver blush, I began to realize why, when alone, I usually end up watching an old black and white film? I don’t mind being scared. I don’t mind an awkward cringe or two and I’ve even gotten used to the fact that F**K is now the “Golly-Gee” of today.
What I can’t get used to are the strewed guts and body parts, sitting through scenes where the head of a gal facing a guy, disappears below the lower frame and we all know what she’s doing. Really?
CUT TO: We get the verbal commentary in the next scene, as she tells her girlfriend every blow-by-blow description (Pun intended). Yeah, we get it…you’re a slut…click!
While depicting “bad choices” can certainly become a good cautionary tale to viewers, the lines between what’s now acceptable and what’s not, are so blurred that the mixed messages they send out, end up making us feel worse or more confused about ourselves than ever before.
Anyway, I began to realize how many accumulative hours I’ve probably spent inadvertently ingesting more crap in a week than my parents saw in their entire lifetimes. And we wonder why Millennials are so jaded and scared of real life?
As I deleted apps, feeds and contacts, I began to wonder, “What is it that I WILL watch now?”
Well, it just so happened that one day, next to the “Ocean Waves” clip on YouTube, there was a TED Talk clip on “Why your gut feelings are real”. Super interesting! Then another on “The origins of empathy”. It was right on! Then another one on “The trend away from organized religion to that of global spiritually,” and yet another on how “creationism and evolutionism philosophies are finally beginning to merge.” So dang riveting and relevant and smart!
I then went to TED’s website to see what their bylaws and criteria were. I’d half remembered them from the early days when I was asked to do one of those presentations myself (but didn’t due to scheduling conflicts). I was very impressed.
“Hmm” I said to myself, “the next time I plop down in front of the boob tube, I’m going right to TED Talks.” If I’m going to zone out, it might as well be with something that’s actually improving my mind and feeding my soul.
Ok, so at first it was hard bypassing the glossy ads and throbbing logos of Amazon Prime, Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu…in fact It was kinda like having to eat a kale salad vs. mac ‘n cheese or the crust on a sandwich first, before getting to the good part…let alone dessert. LOL. I guess it’s like juicing. Yum? Not so much! Good for you? Yup.
Yet, every time I went to watch TED Talks, I was instantly hooked. It felt so good to see well-educated and passionate people of my own more humanitarian tribe. Oh right! There ARE more of us than it sometimes feels like, since only the scoundrels and the bombastic seem to get all the press these days. I even saw several of my own friend’s speeches and shot them emails saying how much I enjoyed them, and they responded! Who knew?
Since my Honey was out of town for a week, thus reducing “the war of the remote control,” I did a full-on TED Marathon until it became my new default.
Sure enough, I noticed that my global PSD had started to subside. I found myself making notes and writing down the best presentations. I felt my mind getting re-stimulated and as a result, my physical energy grew stronger and I got more aerial in my thinking. My heart started opening up to new ideas that are truly important. My head bobbed in agreement when something I’ve always known, was finally being talked about by the Professor of Human Studies at Harvard, or the head of a hospice at Cleveland clinic, or by a woman who had survived sex trafficking and has figured out a way to curb it. Or the…well you get the idea. Right?
Stories from real people in their own voices in front of a very discerning audience is powerful.
So, I did download new apps after all. Sigh. But in my defense, they were and are now very curated feeds that meet my new default criteria. “UPLIFT OR TAKE A HIKE.” And, having been through this arduous task, I was sure not to download the whole YouTube App, but the link directly from (places like) Ted.com so I would not get the rest of the crap that slips in unexpectedly under radar screen.
Then, I asked friends to send me links to the things that inspire them too. My sister sent me Jamie Lee Curtis’s new podcast Good Friend, (Jamie is a pivotal person and friend in my own life) and Jane Fonda’s program and, and, and….so exciting!
And now, I ask you too to send me non-political voices from sites that inspire you as well. Once I get enough of them, I’ll add a page to my site so it’s easy to get to without the temptation of distraction if you see a headline that says, “Christopher Lowell builds an entire home out of Tupperware see how...” LOL!
So the upshot is, boys and girls, that it’s perfectly fine to be curious or up on things happening in the world. It’s only human to want to escape into a bit of mindless entertainment. But beware of the shadows.
We cannot expect to surmount the avalanche of fear and lies that swirl around us if we don’t care enough about ourselves to stand vigilant guard as our own champions—armed at the gates of our quiet hearts.
You can do it!
Bye for now,