Friday, April 15, 2016

Why My Laptop is Living in My Jumper Drawer

So here's the thing.  I'm keeping my laptop in a drawer under some jumpers.

I'm not on Facebook at the moment, haven't posted anything on Instagram in like, forever (or about a month which is the same as forever in Instagram terms) and Twitter basically doesn't exist for me (which probably doesn't count because I don't really understand Twitter anyway.)

I'm dipping into my email every few days or when I think I might have something I need to respond to from someone I know (IRL, yo!).  And while I'm there I'm deleting all my extraneous subscriptions too.  Because this one time I checked my inbox and I had 26 unread messages and I didn't need to see any of them.

My iPad is getting used by my kids more than me - they watch TV shows on the ABC for Kids iview app.  And when I need a recipe, or some music or the kids want to know the difference between a meteor and an asteroid the iPad still comes in handy.

Did you know that there are no such things as shooting stars? For real. They are actually meteoroids that have been vaporised after entering the Earth's atmosphere.  Meteors.  Science.  Huh.

And of course right now.  Right now I am writing this on my laptop, which is literally atop my lap.

I love writing and I love my blog.  And I'll even go so far as to say I had a little love affair with Instagram & Facebook for a while there too.  But you know what the problem is?  There is too much.  Too much information, too many photos, too much content, too much 'connection', too much to see, to be 'inspired' by, to be affected by, to be informed of.  It's just all too much.

And I've been a bit addicted to it.  Not in a major,  'I'm so into my computer I am forgetting to shower' kind of way, but definitely a little bit.

And I tried a few times to limit my computer use in various ways, some more successful than others.

But now I'm keeping my computer in a drawer.  And what's the weirdest?  I don't even miss it.

Other times when I have tried to rein in my computer and social media use it has really hurt.  But this time I don't miss it, not one little bit.  Okay, that's not strictly speaking true, I do miss it just one little bit, but only one, that's really about all.

The difference I think, is my perspective.

I've been reading Eckhart Tolle of late.  That's right, I scared all my friends by re-reading The Power of Now.  The last time I read it I quit my job, so stand back, who knows what might happen this time.

And now I'm reading Tolle's other book A New Earth.   These books are not about computer use per se.  They are about stilling the mind and getting to our pure, joyous, eternal source within.  But somewhere along the line Tolle said something about the mind.  He said (and I'm paraphrasing because I can't remember which book it was in and they're both fairly thick and I think I'll have a hell of a time trying to find the actual quote but he said something like...), "The mind is a powerful tool, but we should master the tool and not allow the tool to be master of us."  I've no doubt he said it in a far less awkward and strangely clumsy way than I just did, but you get the drift.

We have all become possessed by our racing minds, in a state of thought so constant that we don't even know it is happening most of the time.  The zombie apocalypse isn't a fantasy people!  We are living it right now - we are all the living dead, walking around bumping into each other without knowing what the fuck is going on half the time.  This is why so many of us are in pain, unhappy with our life's circumstances, suffering terribly in our general malcontent.  And this, on a global level is why we are treating other humans, non-human creatures and the planet with such contempt.

"Forgive them for they know not what they do" - Lauryn Hill (oh, and also Jesus).

Not you?  You don't reckon you are part of this world gone mad?  You are happy, contented and living a life that is in synch with your own needs and the needs of those around you and the planet at large?  That's great.  I congratulate you, because you are amazing.  Also I apologise, because I shouldn't have lumped you in with all us wounded zombies out here in the post apocalyptic rubble.

If you're not sure whether you are a zombie or not, maybe you feel fine and your life is good, but underneath it all there is a small disquiet, a tiny voice, a timid whisper, tugging gently at the stray thread of your heart saying 'I'm here.'  If you hear it and you think it might lead you somewhere then try listening to it.  You can do this simple exercise:  Watch your mind.  Look at your thoughts.  Instead of letting the mind run amok in it's usual way take a step back and observe it.  Go ahead.  I'll give you a minute.


Here's what happened with me. I watched my mind for about two and a half minutes and spent about one minute in the past cringing over that thing I said that I didn't really mean and that my friend didn't really understand and that just came out all wrong.  I spent maybe one minute in some sort of imaginary fantasy land where instead of saying that quite silly thing that no-one got I said this other totally awesome thing and everyone understood exactly what I meant and we all smiled and laughed and ended up looking like three chicks from a toothpaste commercial.  Then I might have spent say thirty seconds in the future thinking about how much time I have before picking the kids up from school and whether I have time for a cup of tea before I have to head out to get them.

How much of that time did I spend in the present moment?

How much of that 150seconds did I spend taking a deep breath, noticing the sounds of the birds out the window and the traffic going by, the light breeze floating in and the slight chill on my fingers?

Extrapolate that out across my day, my week, my month, my year, my lifetime and then extrapolate that out again across all of humanity and it's no wonder we are all in the fucking shit.

I am not really in my life.  I am largely ignoring my reality in favour of the burial ground of the past and the delusion of the future.

I don't want to presume that you are the same as me.  Maybe you are sitting on a mountain top right now meditating and preparing to climb down and enlighten the world with your incredible insights like some sort of Guru-Messiah.  If so you're most likely not reading this, so cool.

The fact is it's not just me on my lonesome that is responsible for the shocking state we've gotten ourselves into, is it?  We are in this together and you only have to look around you to see what a crappy job we are doing of looking after ourselves, each other and the planet.  No fully conscious, present person could tolerate it nor perpetrate it.  

Never the less I'll try to just speak for myself.  I spend a fuck load of time in an alternate reality.  Not in this actual real, reality.  And I don't need my computer, my iPad, my iPod, my fitbit to go there either.  I'm hanging out there pretty much 24/7, when I'm walking down the street, doing the grocery shopping, playing with my kids, even when I'm having conversations with people.  Which is not to say I am not engaged in the conversation, I am, it's just that sometimes I am so engaged by the conversation or by something you've said I start thinking about how super what you just said was and how I want to respond to it and how I have a similar experience that I want to share with you.  So I'm there.  But yet I'm not really there.

And I have come to realise that my computer use and the internet is like a microcosm of my life in the sense that it is an alternate reality.  It's easy to convince myself that it's all about 'connection', just like it's easy for me to convince myself that the more I interrupt our conversation the more engaged I am in it.  But neither of these things is real connection.

And the thing Tolle said about the mind being a tool to be mastered, rather than a master to be slave to, well it applies just as well to my devices.  So I am reclaiming my devices and the entire internet as a tool, for me to master.  For me to use, to make it serve me and not the other way around.

For a while now as I have contemplated my computer use, my social media engagement and weighed it up with what I want to achieve with my writing and my blog I have felt conflicted.  Conflicted by the advice thrust upon me that if I am writing I have to engage, I have to promote, I have to connect.  This has never sat quite right with me for two critical reasons, firstly because promotion and engagement take time and it never felt quite right to be spending time on that that could have been spent writing, or playing with my kids.  And also because I have known for a while that my computer and internet use has contributed to my anxiety.  And I'm not the only one who thinks so.  I don't disagree that for a blogger community and engagement are important, and also part of the fun.  But still it's liberating to ignore the advice that it must be a critical (and somewhat burdensome) part of blogging.  Because that advice doesn't serve me, and because I don't have to take it on board.

My writing, my blog, my computer, my iPad, my phone, the internet are no longer things that I am slave to.  They are serving me.  And that feels like the correct order of things.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a lap top sized whole in my jumper drawer that needs to be filled.

How do you manage your computer use?

Image Licensed Under Creative Commons via Unsplash


  1. I know exactly what you mean. I had a break for a couple of months last year from everything electronic, well except for work. I loved it! I try not to use any devices in the evening unless necessary, and limit my social media access to a few minutes a couple of times a day. So for example I check Insta in the morning and afternoon but am only on there for a total of 5-10 minutes, and only post something a couple of times a week. I don't post much on FB so it's more looking at my feed and reading anything of interest.
    Most of the time I'm online at the moment is spent doing study - I love online courses!

    1. Wonderful Kath P. Sounds like you've found the perfect way to put your devices to work for you (and not the other way around!). Thanks for reading and commenting - the irony, eh? It's what I battle with. I do love writing and connecting with people through my blog and theirs, but it - like everything - is all about balance. x

  2. I like this post. I think discipline and 'watching your mind' are so important in our age of instant online connection. It's easy to get overwhelmed and let your online life control you, rather than the other way around. Thanks for articulating this issue so well and so personally!

    1. Thanks Isabel - I think that's exactly it, our online experience is one we need to be the masters of, not something we should be beholden too or burdened by. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. x