It seems that time is on a rapidly escalating trajectory. I'm not a physicist, mind you, just a curious observer. Our hyper consumer culture combined with the urgent immediacy of social media and the insatiable beast of our constant connection have created a new reality. In this reality, we are incapable of being present in any moment. We must capture the moment, live stream the moment, filter the moment and our reactions through the lenses of our cell phones or computer screens. In doing so we diminish the power of the moment. We exist in a constant state of anticipation of the next moment, the next trend, the next episode, the next season, the next holiday!
We are twice removed from reality, immersed in a pale and demanding reflection.
Everything is filtered, curated, cropped, edited, and condensed into soundbites and snippets. Go to a museum or a public event and you will find most people holding up their phones. It's becoming increasingly difficult to see around them.
Excuse me, folks, I was wondering if you could PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN so that I might observe the masterpiece on the wall...there in front of us...in person?
They start pushing Christmas in July, proof positive that there is no war on Christmas. However, it leads me to believe there's a war on summer. I mean, really, JULY?! Can we save Christmas for after Halloween? Or save Halloween for after Labor Day? For the love of PUMPKIN SPICE, enough already! I prefer to enjoy beach balls, pool floats, and flip flops until the last possible moment before I embrace sweaters, boots, and spiced wafers. I'm surely not ready for peppermint lattes, Santa Claus, and jingle bells until there's a chill in the air and the pumpkin has melted into a moldy pile of pulp.
Am I the only one who feels the strain? Is it just me standing in the middle of August surrounded by fall and winter decor while desperately clinging to my drippy ice cream cone?
Trends that used to linger for months and years burn out in a matter of weeks. Fast fashion is moving so fast H&M has a mountain of clothing they've resorted to burning. What's in? What's out? What's up? Those sandals are so last week, sister. They are?! Egads! Things go out of style before you've had a chance to wear them twice. Meanwhile, some trends are constantly being resurrected. Did they ever leave? How many times can we revisit gladiator sandals and wide leg jeans? But not worn together, good grief, have you no fashion sense?
Images that seemed appealing at first glance lose appeal when they've been plastered on everything from sweatshirts to sippy cups. How many llama encrusted items can one own?
That's a rhetorical question.
All the llama encrusted items! Until the pineapple or unicorn or narwal or sloth or rainbow emerges victorious! What's next? Who knows?! Marmosets? Sea slugs? The oft neglected platypus?
We'll find out this week, as the tides keep shifting and the trends keep escalating.
We binge watch our way through seasons of TV shows that used to unfold over the course of months and years. More, more, more! Faster! Louder! We want information and instruction and entertainment served up in smaller and smaller bits and pieces. The mini-series has morphed into the web series of 2 minute videos. Friendly faces have been replaced by hands moving at the speed of light as they create impossible to reproduce brightly colored internet friendly tutorials of DIY and Home Improvement projects. Real people are being replaced by virtual social media stars who lack the pesky imperfections of their human counterparts.
I miss being in the moment. I miss the slow burn. I miss sitting face to face and having thoughtful conversations. I miss the exquisite boredom of a lazy afternoon uninterrupted by social media notifications and the ever present and insistent cell phone. I find myself torn between the need to promote my book and my brand on the internet and the deep seated desire to unplug and reconnect with the real world. I've traded autonomy and serenity for an insatiable digitally escalated fake reality. Most of us have, and it's changing our brains and our relationships.
On the one hand, we are more connected than we've ever been. This allows us opportunities to meet people we would not have met before the digital age, and it allows us to reconnect with people we may have lost along the way. However, we're also more disconnected than we've ever been. Add into this fake news, online bullies, social media depression, decreasing attention spans, the loss of person to person connectivity, and the lack of immersion in the moment and I'm not sure if the trade off is worth the cost it exacts. And then there's the reality that the free platforms we're using to stay connected are built to observe, collect, sell, and exploit our data. This has had big real world consequences, as evidenced by Brexit and the 2018 election.
Maybe this is a sign of my becoming old, rejecting the progress of technology. Perhaps by hanging on to the idea of being in the moment, of embracing reality, I'm clinging to something that will be lost to future generations. Virtual reality offers a perfection that reality lacks. Imperfection is what makes real life fascinating, but even imperfection can be mimicked.
I'm trying to find a balance between the digital world and the actual world. I am not alone. There is a pull being felt by many to step away from the screens. People are growing weary of social media and the way it makes them feel. What is real is right in front of us, and we can feel it, taste it, touch it, and connect to it at any moment. There is so much to explore, if we're willing to put down our phones and reconnect. We don't have to race on the hamster wheel of fast fashion. There is no need to be slaves to the trend machine. We can savor a meal without sharing it on social media. We can engage the people around us as we move through the world. We can stay connected without feeding the data beast.
Time is not moving faster, we are. I've decided that it's time to slow down. I'm not sure what that means yet, or how I will manifest it in my day to day reality. But I do know that I want more of that and less of this fast paced, frenetic illusion.