Monday, December 19, 2005
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately..."
“Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?” asked Thoreau over a century ago. If only he could see America today.
I am constantly amazed at how hurried and harried we are. How overwhelmed I feel. A friend wrote me the other day of all that he needed to do and asked rhetorically “If it ever ends?” I suppose it does—when we die. What is so remarkable is all of the “time saving devices” we have invented and incorporated into our daily lives. First we have the alarm clock to make sure we artificially rise to begin our day. For me, it’s a cell phone. The cell phone is incredibly convenient and allows me to “save” time by talking while I’m in my car, at the grocery store, on the treadmill, in the shower, or multi-tasking in any number of other ways. I wonder—would I feel compelled to keep in touch with so many people on a fairly regular basis if I did not have a cell phone at my constant disposal? I know I wasn’t as nearly in communicado six years ago when my cell phone was relegated to the trunk of my car and only for emergency use. Now I can’t imagine life without it. I can’t remember the last time I went much more than 24 hours without talking to someone.
Hmm….what other time saving devices are there? Oh, the Blackberry. I’m glad to say that I’m not addicted to that as well (the law firm where I work is just now catching onto Word and e-mail). It just seems like a way for your employer to exercise control over your “personal” time as well. My friend T.H. that worked at a large firm in Atlanta received research requests via e-mail as early as 5:00 a.m. and on Sunday afternoons. Even my friends with less consuming jobs feel compelled to constantly check their e-mail.
Speaking of which, e-mail is another “convenience” I’ve come to use with a ridiculous amount of frequency. I able to keep up with a lot of friends that way—and avoid the annoying game of phone tag. I also fear that I spend well over an hour of my free time each day on the internet, whether it’s e-mailing (why have I dismissed quality conversation for quantity?) or checking out all the sites I’m compelled to visit every day like www.craigslist.com and www.thesuperficial.com (I’m most ashamed of that one). Hmm…internet—time saving or time suck?
I could go on and on with my rants about our self-proclaimed “progressive” inventions, but instead I think I need to reflect on how I can change my life to best use modern technology without sacrificing living. Am I really living if I send 10+ personal e-mails a day, 10+ text messages, check four e-mail accounts as well as my online banking, have 5-10 personal calls each day, watch an hour or more of TV some days, and work 40-50 hours a week? Throw in volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters and a weekly Bible study and voila the anti-thesis of one of my favorite mantras written in Walden: “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!”
I think I’ve just stumbled upon the beginnings of a New Year’s resolution….now watch me come up with some very complicated plan to make my life much more simple….Alas, I’m going to try because life is entirely too precious to not live every minute of it. And truly live it rather than rush through it, head down and stuck in a computer, cell phone, and in constant communication with others.