Saturday, August 20, 2016

Turning Back the Clock

I shared a memory with a friend recently, on Facebook. It was a photo of us 20 years ago that evoked a feeling of shared joy. But she also commented that she'd like to "turn back the clock".

That started me thinking about how life would be, even if we turned the clock back 10 years, to pre FB. How might we be using these hours in a way that nurtures us more deeply? The time that social media has snatched from us?

And who would we be without our technology? Michael Harris, in his book The End of Absence suggests that soon enough people will struggle to remember life before the Internet. 

Would we be more engaged in our local community? Be more able to churn out that book, or paint more pictures?

So how do we extract ourselves, even a little, for fear of losing our seemingly community of 'friends'. Many would have withdrawal symptoms. The longest offline time for me was a week. 

Michael goes on to say "And today’s rarest commodity is the chance to be alone with your own thoughts". Thankfully I still make time for a lot of that. He urges us to look up from our screens and to remain awake to what came before. What did it feel like then? And this same topic is what I brought up with another friend recently. I expressed wanting to return to a time when I wasn’t plugged in (I wanted a few days to be free of my Smartphone). This time was only 16 years ago, in 2000. Yes, I needed to remember what it felt like then!  

The days of only having a landline.

Michael says that "if you were born before 1985, you are one of the last people, the last generation on Earth who will have known a pre-digital world. Who will know the difference between Before and After."

One of my loves is to capture the natural world on camera - wanted to be a photographer once - so the other day when I had the impulse to stop my car on a country road, and capture the roadside pinkish grass that danced in the wind, I didn't, as I heard the words "who wants to see your grass pictures?!" This prompted me to think about why people share so many images of what they are doing, and who they are with. I wanted to go deeper into the Why?

Prior to Mobile phone cameras, when we printed out our photos from our cameras, we usually only shared images of the birth of a baby, a wedding, or holidays. And when people did I would hastingly bypass the landscape ones as I found them a little boring. I wanted to see people in the images.  But now, when I see a beautiful sunset or field of flowers on FB, I am in awe. 

So what has changed?

Could it be that in an increasing digitised world, though it might appear we connect to so many virtual friends, make a comment here and there, or have a virtual conversation, still our soul is crying out for a deeper, day to day, real life experience where we are met and heard in the presence of another soul? And in an attempt to feel even the slightest of soul time, the only way is sharing what moves us, online, whether it's a selfie, a scene, or something one is eating.  I drove the rest of the way home feeling more at peace as to why I love to share what moves me, or inspires me, in images.

Thankfully I stopped using Instagram, and found it hard to learn how to Tweet! There's two techno bits I don't have to concern myself with anymore.

Michael Harris says we have formed a deep intimacy with our gadgets, much like a lover, and because of the need to connect with others, our technologies are good at providing this intimacy.

Who would love to turn the clock back to the days of receiving and sending letters and birthday cards? I tend to prefer the paper variety of correspondence.  Even though we spoke on the phone weekly, Mum and I would still send each other a letter, sometimes with enclosures. Reading these letters was a treasured moment of my week.

There is now no need to wait for the postie til 2 or 3 in the afternoon when we have instant contact with 'friends' all over the world. I would hazard a guess it's one of the first things most people do in the morning, checking into FB.

Meeting 'Wonder Woman' at a Design Market on the weekend took me back in time. On her stall she was selling beautiful, colorful, hand-crocheted shawls and blankets. She told me she also had a full-time job when I inquired as to how she had the energy to crochet all these goods. And she has four children!  

I forgot to ask her for her FB page!  Perhaps she hasn't the time to have one.

Returning now to we Elders in wanting to turn the clock back. 

Albeit technology has slowly crept into our lives, it has also taught us new skills, and connected us up with a wide range of people. And though it's possibly caused us to be more sedentary, the benefits of slowing down and reflecting on our lives, might counter any negatives. 

So why would we want to turn back the clock, to the 'old days' when we can write about a lifetime of memories, plus remember all the selves we have been, or imagined our selves to have been?  And let's not even contemplate any baggage we've held onto. Hopefully most of us have lost it somewhere in our travels!

On reflection, perhaps we have the best of both worlds.