I love nothing more than to snuggle up in bed and have a boxset binge; streaming Sopranos or Game of Thrones to my phone, putting in my headphones and escaping reality for a little while. I can almost instantly connect to my chosen streaming service and watch pretty much anything I fancy. It’s great.
But… I spend almost half my snuggly boxset time watching a frozen video or buffering screen. God forbid I should get distracted and miss a scene because rewinding it is a nightmare, with the screen freezing up for a good few minutes before it starts again. Working on the computer becomes a major pain in the arse, with the constant threat of a ‘program not responding’ error message looming over me like a dark cloud.
Instead of buying 3 for a fiver, cam-copy DVDs I watch streamed video files a few minutes at a time in between 5 minute blocks of buffering. Instead of writing in my diary before bed like I did as a kid my every emotion, personal discovery, moment of clarity or, you know, thought is blogged or tweeted as it happens.
Does this constant link to the outside world, this ever-present portal to the opinions of everybody else really make my life easier? It certainly doesn’t seem to be solving anything in my life.
On a good day, when everything is working as it should, I can go from WordPress to Twitter and Facebook in seconds; from thinking something to typing it up to sharing it with the world to finding out what other people think about the same subject in hardly any time at all. It feels like a positive as I’m doing it but am I really gaining anything?
My kids can do it faster than I can. They have access to better technology and a more instinctual understanding of how it works. They’re growing up with a constant link to ‘outside’, permanently connected to what everyone they know thinks and does. That just sounds like a lot of pressure to me. When do they get to switch off and just be children. They don’t just have to put their cool front on at school and when out with their mates like I did, it’s always there. Is it really benefitting them?
I love writing my blog. It’s different from a diary to me, I think. I have a journal that I use to work through my feelings, that isn’t what I use my blog for. My blog is for the conclusion of that work on myself, and my sharing it is an effort to have something to show for my work, and if somebody else ever gets something from it then that’s great. I love some of the comments I recieve, when I seem to have really helped somebody or made them think. So the blog isn’t the problem. I never thought of anyone actually reading my stuff, but once they started I was over the moon, and I remain completely honoured that anybody would be interested. This doesn’t stop me watching my stats obsessively for a few days after publishing a blog though, and this is the bit that bothers me.
Just like the buffering screen and the not responding window and the force closed errors, I can’t help but wonder why I bother? Was there really anything wrong with keeping a diary for self reflection and juist doing the reflection myself? Were the pirate DVDs really that bad that the frustrating efforts at streaming were worth replacing them with? I don’t know. We’re so used to the idea that new technology makes life easier, that upgrading will automatically be an improvement, and I’m not sure it really is, certainly not in every case.
Mind you, I’ve been worrying about the robots taking over for years!
Why are we so in need of what other people think?
Why do we feel this urge to share every thought, not just with our friends and loved ones, but complete strangers too? Why does it matter what people we don’t know think? I know people who have closer relationships with these online strangers than their loved ones, who actively push away the ones who know and love them in order to develop intimate relationships with strangers using a totally made up persona. This just seems really sad to me, if the only people you can hold a proper conversation with are people you don’t know and will never meet then there’s something very wrong. We’ve all seen, and occasionally been part of myself, a roomful of people staring at their phones or tablets and never actually looking up or speaking out loud. What was wrong with building real connections with real people? Is it an inherent laziness in humanity? Along with disposable technology we now have disposable relationships?