I try, really I do, but I can’t seem to get into a good novel by staring at a computer screen. I’ve done it, but it just doesn’t compare to the real thing. There is something much more intimate and provoking about holding a book in my hands; feeling its cover, running my fingers across the pages, crisp and sharp; the smell of a fresh book that has never been opened, and the potency of the ink when it jumps off the pages; that new smell from brand new books, like cradling a new born in the crook of your arms. So precious and delicate that you almost don’t want to open it. Don’t want to destroy the perfect foundations by bending it’s shiny flaps or causing a crease. In your lap is the weight of your favorite coffee cup, the modest light of the lamp, and a world waiting for you to enter it. To touch and feel the tangibility of book bindings is to go on a creative high of possibilities. All the way down to when you close a book after coming home from the journey and daydream about the revelations and alternate endings. You can end an eBook but you can’t close it. That big red x in the corner won’t do it justice either. I can’t breathe in deep and close my eyes while holding an eBook in my hands. I can’t stare at the front cover as if there’s more to come or fold the pages over. Highlighting isn’t as fun either. Perhaps the best thing about hard-copies is that these books are much more prone to immortality; they will go back for years and years to come. I smile sometimes at the books of my youth that are still found hanging around, too naïve to be read again with the same zeal but too precious to do away with. The satisfied glory of having been read, watch your favorite collection stand and shine beautifully against the backdrop of the book shelf, a time machine right there in your bedroom.
Unplug: Balance and Technology
I have a motto in life: Balance is everything.
That said I try to maintain a proper balance in my life of all that I do because stability is foundational. If I like a particular desert I try not to overindulge. If I have a certain opinion, I try not to make that opinion law unless it is law. I enjoy exercising for example, and in so doing I try to maintain a certain body weight, but I do not believe fitness and diet itself makes one healthy entirely. I’m not going to turn exercise into some kind of religion and depend solely on salads to keep me healthy. I believe spiritual health is the key to physical fitness. If someone is weak minded it doesn’t matter how much they work out they will not survive hard times. I can store up as much water is necessary for a drought, but if I don’t possess a strong mind I will go thirsty still. That doesn’t mean however, that physical exercise is not important. It’s not always about losing weight but, as Jillian Michael’s puts it: “It’s about being strong physically so that you’re strong in every aspect of your life.” I don’t know much, but what I do know is that proper balance is everything, the lack of which can throw something off. An improper balance of one thing can cause too much or too little of something else. If you don’t drink enough water, you won’t be able to properly nourish your kidney’s. If you drink too much water, you can die (it has happened).
Today’s technology is wonderful. Because of which I am able to reach people all over the world from this blog alone. Fifty years ago we could not have fathomed what technology has become today. It has changed everything. People can attend schools online. People can shop online. People can even publish books online. The increase in technology and the way it is used today is a great tool for the visionary. People who have a vision to share and understand how to properly use technology to make manifest that vision have greatly benefited from the blessings technology has to offer. Entrepreneurs and small business owners can take advantage of today’s technology to make their businesses more efficient and effective. No longer am I sitting at a desk hand writing this article out with the intent to mail it to every single one of you, but technology has instead given me the freedom to expedite that process by way of typing into a computer. I can then copy and paste this article into my blog post without having to re-type it. Technology has done this. Needless to say I am a big fan of technology.
But like I said, balance is everything.
While technology has made it easier to be in more than one place at a time, and to instantaneously receive and give information, the pacification of technology has taken away our ability to think critically, perform the simplest of tasks without it, and can even take away our desire for self sacrifice. Today, too many of us have become lazy, the smallest of tasks we are now unable or unwilling to perform. From using a broom to hand washing clothes much of the new school generation do not know how to perform these simple chores. We are a generation who grew up on the washing machines. It is (the washing machine), a beautiful invention that I adore. I appreciate having one because I know that many families do not. But if I don’t take the time to understand how to also wash clothes on my hand, this technology has become useless. It has become useless because when my washing machine breaks, and I cannot afford the laundry mat, I cannot wash my clothes. Technology is great, but when it get to the point where we cannot do something as simple as walk down the street without factoring technology into the equation, it has become a waste of valuable time, and an electronic leash in our lives.
With the increase of Kindle and e-books for example, many book stores have closed because of the decline in print book reading. I’m a bible believer. So it is very much convenient to have a bible application on my smart phone. It gives me the chance to have it at my fingertips without having to carry around my hard copy. But I also need to be able to see the words off screen every now and again. I need to be able to highlight scriptures and run my fingers across these words, flip through pages, etc. But while Kindles, e-books, smart phone screens and PC monitors are great, print book reading is still a valuable skill; enhancing thinking critically, engages the imagination, reflection, and vocabulary. So every now and again I enjoy a good book and try to research outside the internet (which I must say is becoming increasingly more difficult to do).
But I have an exercise / challenge for each of you: Every now and again (you can choose how more or less frequently), unplug. Step away from whatever form of technology is consuming a large majority of your time to the point it is stopping you from sharpening certain skills . If you don’t know how to wash clothes on your hands, let the washing machine breathe awhile. If you don’t know how to wash dishes without the dish washer, don’t use it for a few days. If you have never swept a floor, put the vacuum cleaner in the closet for a day or two. If you have lost study time because of Facebook or your husband /wife /children hate you because Twitter gets more time than they do, or your cell phone is practically attached to your hand, take a couple days and unplug.
Studies show, for example, that watching TV, which we can now equate to the computer monitor and smart phone screen, tablet, etc., is equivalent to staring at a blank wall. Among the electrical waves in the brain is something called the alpha wave. It is the wave most active during sleep, creating a sense of relaxation when our eyes are closed. Studies show that this wave is most active while watching television. I like watching TV personally, and I enjoy seeing the symbolic messages embedded in some of my favorite TV shows, but I must maintain a proper balance between my TV time and study time; my TV time and praying time; my TV time and good old fashion conversation. I am not one to advocate for the complete annihilation of television. I understand the whole tel-evil-vision thing, but I think there’s a lot put out before our face that we need to know about. Much truth is revealed in movies and etc., that we often miss. At the same time, I do not think one should spend all of their time in front of the TV either, because there is also important information in books we often miss.
I must say again, I am a fan of technology. But I am also a woman of balance. If you can’t give up your electronic leash for a few days, you are missing out on other things that are non-technical. Technology is good, but family time, engaging with people face to face, print book reading, etch., these are all still very much needed in our lives as each provide a variety of skills and lessons to learn. Likewise (speaking of balance) those of you still living in the stone age need to also realize that technology is present in today’s world; if you are computer illiterate you should probably seek to adjust to the times and plug into a world of which you are absent. But getting back, the need to have things quickly and at our fingertips has limited so many skills on some level or another. Take a few days to step away from the screen for awhile, unplug, and you’ll be amazed at the level of calm and meditation you were able to achieve just by stepping back for awhile.