There are just some days when synchronizing with the world feels too damn tiring.
* * *
I went camping for the first time in my life just a few days ago. I slept outside, surrounded by the buzz of insects and the hard ground beneath me. That part of camping will take some getting used to. But one of my favorite parts about camping was being out of reach of any cell phone towers. Those tall, ominous beacons couldn’t find me. And therefore, no one could find me. No one who cared enough to message me. Yesss, I sighed with relief as my phone finally comatosed into silence a few hours into the trip.
The mental vacation lasted about 4 days.
Driving back from the trip, my phone returned to civilization — and the madness started. My phone took a life of its own as the landscape around me got busier. It started buzzing and ding-ing as messages and event notifications came pouring in, reminding me of the “life” I had been missing out on while I was “gone”. I felt the anxiety I had been delaying for days, full of dread at the level of decay my relationships must have suffered at my non-presence, feeling this enigmatic inadequacy wash over me all of a sudden.
I felt like a dam had broken, no longer shielding me from the inevitable deluge.
* * *
Every time I go offline, I feel refuge from the flood of notifications, messages, and daily mental comparisons I make of my life to others’ seemingly more copacetic ones.
In our modern world, we are inundated with opportunities to “synchronize”:
- Read the same headlines as everybody else
- Find common ground with complete strangers in a heated forum discussion
- Admire the same glittering social media accounts that someone else does, recommended to you by some algorithm
- Take pictures of the same waterfall as someone else — that waterfall now has no soul
- Share your location and find yet other people who have been to the same place
This causes me to backtrack mentally sometimes: are human beings meant to be this social? Are we really meant to be trapped in these webs of interaction, lured in by FOMO — the fear of missing out? These attempts to connect with the world at large — are they as tangible as the wiry feeling of moss on a tree branch, or the scatter of moonlight on the forest floor? Are they as genuine as a close friend that tells me what’s real in his everyday world?
I say this, tired, and yet, here I am, throwing my thoughts at other people like e-confetti.
* * *
The world is run by hash tags and other identifiers that are meant to unite the world and bring some pattern to this otherwise meaningless chaos. I get it; it’s our way of feeling less alone, less isolated in this digital biome. But sometimes, it’s too much. The overstimulation, the almost competitive drive to be “caught up” — caught up with what, I really don’t know some days.
Sharks — they gotta keep swimming or they’ll just sink to the bottom and die. It just seems, in the world we live in today, that you will do just the same, if you don’t keep swimming in this sea of information overflow. Would I really miss out on life if I ignore my phone? Or would I actually experience it the way it’s meant to be? We can choose to be “offline” for any given number of time, but, outside of completely adopting a hermit lifestyle, it never really ends.
When can we just rest? When can we ever rest?
Daily Post prompt: Synchronize