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.

4 comments:

Mack said...

Yeah, that's kind of like what it is like in this neck-of-the-woods.

Anyway, thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. I had never really thought of justice as an oxymoron, but you have a good point. As an attorney, you would know best.

Anonymous said...

you should add "updating blog" to your list of time-consuming activities. My sister updates her blog about every 10 minutes. I think her most recent update read "today i updated my blog. That is all. I will sit here and hit refresh until someone comments".
In all seriousness, I Thoureuly enjoyed your essay. nice work, chubbyolgroundhog!

kimberly said...

hey allison it was great to see you in passing at Bert's the other day - I'm sorry I didn't get to speak to you - I wanted to see if you had been to Boston and got to check out any of those churches! I am so excited to hear what you think of them. anyway great to see you and i hope to hang out again soon!

Aaron said...

Cellular phones provide a manner of convenience for most people. I admit to being a "Crackberry" owner (for personal use). While the convenience this provides is immeasurable, I don't allow it to control my life OR use it habitually.

If your employer is requiring you to use such a tool and thereby cutting into your personal time -- perhaps it's time to say, "No!" If that answer isn't sufficient, it's time for a new job.

Most people are slaves to their jobs. If that weren't sad enough, most employers are empowered to enslave some employees with technology. Pick and choose your battles wisely.