Convenience

I’m not a fan of monopolies no matter how convenient they make shopping, or how cheap they can sell products. Progress is good in many ways, but the easier it is to do things from a computer – shopping – the less time we spend interacting with others. It’s the same dilemma we find ourselves facing with cell phones. The computer and cell phone are sad, inadequate replacements for looking into a person’s eyes, watching them smile, and communicating with them in person.

When I’m in front of the computer, I don’t feel the breeze brush across my cheeks or taste the salt torn from the crest of a wave. I don’t hear birds chirping, or see the flash of a shooting star. I like to picture clouds as animals and play tic tac toe with the contrails of aircraft; I like to gaze into the night sky and wonder how far the universe extends. I like to look for mushrooms and remember the days when I thought elves danced around them and lightning bugs were fairies darting here and there. I like to chew on a blade of grass the way I did in the outfield while waiting to make that amazing basket catch.

It isn’t much fun when your neck hurts and your eyes ache from paging through all the shoe styles at Macy’s online. It isn’t much fun when I spend all weekend writing on my computer and miss the joy of spending time walking my dogs or hiking in the forest. I made a pledge to limit my writing time no matter how much I want to finish my novel and submit it to agents.

We lose a bit of the connection to our humanity when we isolate ourselves from the world instead of walking among people when shopping, or when we stare at our phone screen instead of daydreaming or chatting with the person next to us, or when we breathe the stale air at home rather than the fresh fragrant air of a walk in the woods.

I miss the mom and pop stores I grew up around, the ones that closed on Sunday so family could go to church and spend time together. They’re permanently closed now because they can’t compete with the Big Boys. The Big Boys are closing now, too, because they can’t compete with cheap and convenient.

I hate my phone yet I’m chained to it. I’m sick of my computer but it links me to the world that wants it nownownow. I loathe myself for the weakness of spirit that elevates convenience and speed above fresh air and leisurely face-to-face human interaction.

14 thoughts on “Convenience

  1. Elizabeth Drake

    It’s truly a conundrum.

    I don’t have an answer for it.

    I wish things could “go back to how they were”, and yet, if they did, I would be also be sad and frustrated. While Amazon is a massive and powerful player, it’s that way for a reason. Between work and family, I have to choose between going tot he store to buy diapers, or magically having them delivered to my front door in two days. Maybe less as some things now deliver same day.

    I turn my phone off at night, but the lure of the iPad is still there. I’ve banned electronic devices from bedrooms, but it still doesn’t seem like enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. calmkate

    does sound like you really need to ensure that you have time ‘off’ regularly, off all devices .. I love my device free time and often work online on my patio in the sun and fresh air .. need to adapt but device free time is essential to sanity IMHO 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Will Pennington

      I have begun to break that chain. I can leave my phone at home and not miss it. I’ve limited the time I spend writing so they don’t become marathon sessions. I also leave my phone upstairs when I’m in my family room. That takes away the temptation to spend my free time looking at that nasty little screen instead of whatever old movie I happen to be watching (screen for screen?).
      That essay started out as a rant against the Amazon behemoth but turned into a tirade against wasting time on-line and on screen. But the overall point is that we lose the sights, sounds, and smells of the world when we spend all our time indoors in front of the screen. I make it a point at work to walk outdoors for an hour and a half everyday. That helps my sanity and my vitamin D levels 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Will Pennington

        I remember when my ship, USS Tripoli, pulled into Hong Kong in 1994. I stepped off the liberty boat at Fleet Landing and headed across the road for the shopping district. The thing that stands out in my mind is the sight of – I’ll say hundreds to convey the impression it made on me – hundreds of people with their hands to their ears. I didn’t understand. When I came closer I realized they were holding phones to their ears. 1994 was around the time cell phones began making their appearances in large numbers, but those phones were not the internet-connected devices we have now. It was a forbidding sight Foreboding too, in a way.

        Like

  3. Kris

    One of my favorite books is about a girl becoming an author. In the story she mentions how she writes almost all day and spends the evening tramping all day with the dog, getting new ideas to write down the next day.
    I always thought that would be a good way to spend a day. Writing, tramping, resting, writing. Not sure how it would work in this modern world, though.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Kris

        YIKES!!!! Kind of like in the middle of the night when you wake up and scribble an insanely amazing idea down and can’t read a line of it in the morning.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. heather anne

    I’ve really noticed lately how glued I can be to my phone when I’m just walking around downtown… now I’m trying to be more mindful and present and less fixated on social media. ie Keeping the phone in my backpack and not looking at it until I’m at my destination. Looking up at the sky. Seeing the people around me. Sitting in nature for a few minutes each day. It feels better when I remember to take that time.

    Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Will Pennington

      Thank you. Thank you too for the great response! I’m finding it easier to leave the phone at home when I go out, or in the bedroom when I’m home. The tipping point for me came while I was watching an old movie one night. I love the old, classic movies from the 30s and 40s on TCM, but I found myself absorbed in reading up on the actors and the movies at the internet movie database, IMDB to the point that I was missing the movie! Not any more. I also leave the phone in the house when I walk the dogs or work in the yard. The sky is so beautiful 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. heather anne

        Honestly it was for me too. What I wrote for that challenge was so revealing for me at that time in my life… when I look back on it it seems so clear, but at the time I could only look at the paper and wonder where the words came from.

        Liked by 1 person

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