Goodnight network, Goodnight.

Some of you may be experiencing the same right now, but for those ‘in the dark’, the O2 signal is suffering from a terrible nervous breakdown and we have been relatively disconnected for about a week. Signal strength is poor at best, and nil for the majority of the time.

Obviously we still have the trusted Internet so it’s not as though we are totally cut off – although our cable TV has had also a couple of spats and randomly rebooted itself in the middle of Raa Raa, much to the disappointment of the shortest people in the house. Weirdly though, I’ve actually found that I’m really enjoying the feeling of freedom. Freedom from endless status updates and tweets about absolutely bog all. Free from texts asking me to claim for ‘that accident’ – you know, the one I never had, and no more does my phone announce the need to claim back my PPI before it is too late. Look you bunch of money-grabbers, if I was going to claim anything I wouldn’t be going to one of your ‘no win no fee’ kind of companies anyway. Leave me alone!

NoserviceBack to the point though. For someone who has spent the majority of their working career in I.T. it might be surprising to learn that I am the most resistant to the technology that brings the world into the palm of our hands. But that’s just it – if my mobile phone brought me the intellect of visiting a far away museum, the surprise from trying unusual local foods to find I actually like dried worms, or the relaxation of ordering room service on a hot and sweltering day at the beach.. well.. then I could easily argue that technology enriches. Instead we are brought cats dressed in sunglasses, modern chain-mails telling us that 10 friends really are thinking about us – no REALLY, and more than one story about the new TOWIE cast member. Here’s the thing. I DON’T CARE! (and before you ask, no, I certainly don’t watch TOWIE!)

Call me an old grump, tell me I should just switch off, or remind me that it is still my choice – I know. Honestly I do. I’m not writing to ‘have a go’ at the wonders of modern life, and I’m already very aware of some truly awe-inspiring apps out there that can actually make life a little better. The thing that truly bugs me is that it doesn’t matter how much any of us know how unhealthy it is to spend our lives submersed in the digital world – we simply cannot escape it.

Next time you are waiting for a delicious meal in a restaurant, about to watch an awesome film, or just casually browsing the shops, stop and look around at how many people are staring at their phones. We can’t even enjoy the company of our friends any more without checking to see if the 300 other ‘friends’ we know are currently putting their kids to bed or playing that game. Isn’t that sad? Does no one else see it?

I honestly believe that the more absorbed we are in liking, sharing, tweeting, snap-shotting or generally spamming, the more disassociated we are from the fundamental feelings of happiness. I would go so far as to say that as one goes up, the other goes down. I recognise in myself that the more I feel a sense of dissatisfaction, the more time I waste doing unproductive crap that does nothing but sink time into a giant abyss – which I then gaze into and feel annoyed and dissatisfied about the time I’ve lost. And this is why there seems to be a snowballing effect.  What state are we in if we cannot spend an evening with the person we love, hold a normal conversation about hopes, dreams and mundane things, without posting a photo on the Internet.

Heck, I’m guilty of it. One of the last photos I posted online was the half a dead-squirrel I found diving into our kitchen floor. I did it because I was alone looking after the little one and I knew my husband would see the picture at work and chuckle. Because my friend would check his phone while driving (tut, tut!) and think ‘oh no, not again’. In short, the purpose of that pretty mundane and gruesome photo was for a very small handful of people. Perhaps I should have just sent it to them instead? I didn’t though, I spammed everyone with it, just as I spam everyone with yet another competition I’m entering, or another photo of my daughter growing up. Sorry guys!

I guess my point is that there has to be a moment when we are still able to step away from the virtual world. The one that is so addictive that it is able to hide and disguise its dangers by the simple term ‘but it’s normal’. I love that it is so much easier to stay in touch with people, especially when family are now spread all over the world. But easier doesn’t make anything better. I still know that it is much better that I see my dad and talk to him about his projects, that I see my friends and laugh about their crazy week at work, and actually tell  people that I like their company, rather than simply ‘like’ their post on Facebook.

What scares me is how ‘normal’ it is for people to be in the same room as each other, yet not be there at all. I don’t just find it rude to see people connecting with those in the virtual world, whilst not even acknowledging those in the real one – I actually find it insulting. It’s as if they are saying to me ‘your company is so boring that I need to watch this YouTube video of this stranger crashing their car into a hedge to keep me entertained’. Or perhaps ‘I’m not even going to bother talking to you when I can Snapchat this good-looking person I’ve never met. One reply from them is worth more than the years of friendship we’ve built up’.

I understand that for some, businesses depend on being quick to react (this is a household of the self-employed after all. I know that time is money) What I don’t get is why we all feel this need to be constantly drip-fed pointless trash, even when it means making ourselves disjointed from the physical world. (Think, I’m just going to pause our conversation so that I can check if my virtual field of corn has grown yet). The more I think about how life and relationships are changing, even from just ten years ago – the more I want to scream.

How, how, how is this healthy? Someone please explain it to me, because I feel like I’m drowning in this sea of malcontent..

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