So it hit me a couple days ago. What I wrote about in my last blog felt like it was beginning to come to fruition.
If you didn’t get a chance to read my previous blog, it became my most popular entry ever – “Reattaching at 33”
. I opened up about the last year and a half of my life and how I became detached due to a series of events that were more life-shifting than I was willing to recognize. And that my goal this year was to slowly work my way back on course.
Well, I’m happy to say it feels like that process has finally begun.
With that being said, let’s now proceed together into this irregularly scheduled blog-
As an older millennial, I was fortunate to experience the crossover into the modern Digital Age and fully immerse myself in all of its changing facets over the last ~25 or so years. From the days of keying into MS-DOS, using only landlines, logging into the shittiest version of AOL via dial-up internet, and waiting hours for a 30-second porn clip to download on Napster…
…to being able to understand all of the nuances and features of Instagram, utilizing cloud-based systems, ordering weekly meals on Freshly, creating an appealing profile on Hinge, and being able to hold an awful WhatsApp conversation with a young 20-something about how “extra” their “bae” is without seeming like a total fool.
Ah fuck, take that back. I sound like a complete idiot even typing those words.
Okay, so what’s the point of this blog?
I’m writing this to share that I occasionally miss the days when we weren’t so baked into our modern digital lifestyle. It’s not the technology that I mind, but rather the societal shift in priorities and values.
I’m going to make this very simple declaration:
I believe that we’re overloaded with so much information and digital presence that we struggle to plan things, execute things, and most important of all…enjoy things.
Our 24/7, connected culture has blurred the lines between Life vs. Work, Personal vs. Social, and Perception vs. Reality. Likewise, in this age of abundant choices, we have infinite ways to fill time instead of leaving idle moments to restore ourselves or actually build relationships.
Because of it, we can’t focus. And heaven forbid anyone commits to anything anymore. It feels like a blessing these days for people to actually prepay for something or follow-through on a plan. Mapping out a group trip? Setting up a happy hour? Going on a date? A good portion of those fizzle out or get delayed before they even begin, because everyone wants to “keep their options open” or they’re “too busy” to make a decision.
We now live as though busyness has become a status symbol of some kind.
Why is that?
Do we feel more productive this way? Does it make us think we’re living life to the max? Maybe it makes us believe we’re more important? If Instagram shows us with a laptop, mug of coffee, and a notepad at some hipster spot…it means we’re too busy with work, right?
Reality tells me otherwise. It tells me that we’ve become generally terrible at time management and delegation. The increasing amount of people who aren’t able to manage their time very well end up developing anxiety about commitments. When we express this anxiety as “busyness”, it gets us off the hook. It’s an easy cop-out. Ironically, someone who uses “busyness” as a reason for not communicating is often wasting a lot of time and deflecting a lot of commitments.
So another nuance about being an older millennial is that I recall the days when you told someone to meet you somewhere, and trusted them to show up on time and in the right place without any efficient way to communicate in-transit. It was pure and simple trust. You relied on their word to arrive. Likewise, they relied on you.
What did people actually do before cell phones if you didn’t show up after 30 minutes?! Did they simply bail? Did they get concerned you might be hurt?! It seemed like everyone just showed up on time back then. Holy shit! Punctuality was key…as it should be. It shows that you value peoples’ time.
Don’t get me wrong, being able to text someone your ETA and whereabouts to keep them updated makes great sense. How many times have you been stuck in traffic, gotten lost, or had an emergency come up? It just seems as though being late has become more of the expectation now, particularly in our social lives. Is our current level of connectedness responsible for diluting that? I wonder.
I personally have a 20-minute waiting rule if I’m going on a date. If the date is at 7:00pm and she hasn’t showed up by 7:20pm, then I’m sending out an appropriate text as I leave. The only way I would consider staying is if she called or texted me with a legitimate excuse. You’d be surprised how many flakes are out there. Why the hell is that?
Oh yeah, right. Because we struggle to commit to things.
Now that brings me to dating and sex.
Connecting with someone via the swipe of a finger on a dating app, or following them on Instagram, allows us an opportunity to quickly screen their (digital) persona, generate interest, and get to business with a romantic or sexual partner we may not have met otherwise. Sweet, more efficient hook-ups for everyone!
Only there’s a key issue to this. Why do we ghost people? Why are we more easily turned away by minor flaws? I mean shit, we all have them.
Ah, of course. The grass is always greener, right?
Remember when having a first date, first kiss, or first fuck with another person felt special most of the time? Yes, some people get your blood flowing and butterflies fluttering more than others. Some people just have a natural vibe with you. But I feel pretty accurate saying that, in general, dating and sex have become more transactional and commoditized nowadays. I’m worth a right-swipe…oh wait, you are too?!
When things are commoditized, they inherently have less perceived value.
Sex is one of those things. We live in such a hyper-sexualized era that it likely distorts what it means to some of us. For me, I struggle with being pseudo-physically attracted to a woman as my only basis for having sex. If I can’t connect at some deeper, energetic level…then it almost dulls the experience. Sure, many of us have amazing sex with a random stray every once in a while…but for me, it’s not what I naturally seek.
I’ll be the first one to say, “It’s science.” We’re biologically wired to fuck. So if young 20’s and teenagers are provided with easier access to it and living in a much more permissive society, why are they comparably having less sex than people my age or older when we were their age? I think it’s pretty simple – the modern digital lifestyle has heightened their level of social anxiety, and decreased their ability to focus and connect at a personal level.
And so that brings me to the obvious problem in the room-
Everyone is plugged into their phones (and social media). All of the fucking time.
I’m a victim just like everyone else, but I’ve certainly become cognizant about minimizing its usage when I’m out with friends, family, or especially if I’m on a date. I also reduce photo-ops to 2-3 attempts maximum and handle any subsequent postings or digital conversations while I’m in the middle of doing something humdrum – such as taking a shit, riding in an Uber, or laying in bed.
It saddens/disturbs me when I see a couple or friends out at dinner (or any social setting), not really speaking to each other and just looking at their phone screens. Or, they sit there for 15 minutes straight trying to perfect the same selfie or video clip, and then spend the next 20 minutes sifting through the 45 options they captured only to add a filter, smooth their face, change the lighting, and add a shitty caption.
It’s a pathetic way to live. Deep down, I want to go up to those people (who tend to be women) and ask-
Do you know where you are?
Do you even care where you are?
Are you actually enjoying the moment?
I’d bet it all on black that the answer is No.
Instead, you are looking forward to the number of likes you’ll receive on your curated post that provides “evidence” you have a fun life. All the meanwhile, I’ve been having a great conversation right next to you with your cute, more interesting girlfriend who wants to live in reality.
I get it. We receive pleasure from getting likes and being seen by others. Social media has cultivated the self-absorbed, FOMO society in which we live. Unfortunately it’s a digital, curated life. I’ve engaged with plenty of the “Insta-models” and “social influencers” that think they’re important…but in reality many of them are very insecure, vapid, and unhappy people. If you watch American Meme, you’ll get a glimpse at how sad and unfulfilled some of these “social media stars” really are.
Capture a couple shots max. Spend a few seconds making it look better. Post it. Then move on with your actual, real life right in front of you. Otherwise you’re going to perpetually miss out on the moment…and that’s just a sad way to (not) live.
As we continue on, certain tasks will become even more streamlined. Information, options, and access to things will become more readily available. Our lives will breeze on by, and our minds may trick us into believing that being “busy” and “connected” provides us with a greater sense of self-worth. After all, we’re “living our best life”…right?
I’ll leave you with the following (modified by me) quote-
“The pace of this modern digital age is not conducive to maintaining one’s consciousness. Glued to our electronics, we are blind and deaf to the world around us. Run down by our long work days, we are too exhausted to think and too hurried to feel. The day ends in a haze of strained thoughts, numbness, and fatigue. And we rise the next morning only to start the cycle again.
In this age of distraction, if you desire to fritter away your life with empty diversions, there is an abundance of gadgets and platforms available to aid you. Quietness is a characteristic of ages gone by. Connected to the virtual world, we ignore the presence of those in our own home. One can only hope we will awaken to the need for balance before we look up from the screen to find our loved ones have gone, and our life has passed us by.”
P.S.- Did my writing seem a bit scatter-brained? Maybe that was intentional, or maybe I’m just a product of the Digital Dilemma 😉