Imagine there’s no signal, It’s easy if you try
Nothing to live…or text for?, Above us…only sky
Imagine all the children, Living for the day
You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll unplug, And you won’t think once of Kim Jung Un.
My name is Michael and I’m a addict. I’m addicted to signal, charging, markets, information, and stimulus of all kinds. This is my story. It’s kind of like, “SUPER-SIZE ME”, but in reverse.
This is by no means a heroic post. I write embarrassingly, as the 58 year old pre-schooler that has just tied his shoes and is quite proud of it. Through that lens, I admit I have been the worst example of someone being tethered to an electronic leash, basically since I unboxed my first Blackberry. And having an addictive-compulsive personality honestly made it really really hard to adjust by “simply” stopping. Where did those 25 years go?
The amazing thing is how it never changes. Forty years ago, Pink Floyd wrote about, “13 channels of sh$t on the TV.” Today, one’s ability to get sucked down the worm hole of distracted nonsense is limitless. Click-bait, social-bleedia, breaking news, YouTube, and it never stops. Dear reader, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
This post was written during rehab, The Carpe Diem Center for Compulsive Life-Wasters. Betty Ford, at sea if you will. It happened, not for them. Not for us. But for everyone. And especially me. No shoes, No shirt, No signal. We have been mercilessly untethered at sea for the last week. No information. We chuckled one night when the seas were quite rough at moor, and we wondered if those were the waves of a nuclear test from the angry little North Korean boy.
So what happened?
Faces have come alive. Books enthrall. Dinner calls! “Wait, I’ll be right there, I’m in the really good part”. Laughing and hanging around at meals. “I need to slow down, I’ll be out of my books before we reach land”. “Arthur, can you give me more math puzzles”. Challenge. “Tell me the story about why you passed up being an astronaut.” Discussion. “I get scared I won’t know what I want to be.” Insight “Can you edit this draft for me now?” Engagement. An older brother, who has overshadowed his junior his whole life, reading his brothers work for the first time and saying, “WOW, he’s a really good writer.” Junior, glowing with pride. “I think this can be more than a short story, this might be a book that takes all year to write.” Confidence.
“I love writing.”, one says.
For me, a realization. I hadn’t had a video game on my phone, ever. I had loved digital games when they first appeared in the Paleolithic Era, with titles like Donkey Kong and Missile Command. Just before leaving, I loaded a nonsensical mind-numbing game called, “WoodyPuzzle.” I started to play, and that old compulsive monster arose from the crypt. Hours yesterday, then again three hours this morning, while the kids were in class with Arthur. At mid-day snorkle break, Nicholas comes to get me and asks, “What are you working on?”
I sheepishly tell him I’ve been playing “WoodyPuzzle”, during their morning session. [He laughs out loud] I tell him, “When this match is over, I’m deleting the game immediately.” [Again, a laugh] I also confessed that I am reminded as to how powerfully addicting this garbage can be. And that I will be more understanding when my kids need the devices to be ripped from their fingers. Or perhaps not. As we all hopefully gained some crucial insight from each other about how cool life is without that stuff.
Finally, let me finish by saying I’ve re-learned something very important. Kids hate hypocrisy. For me to stare scornfully at the children about getting off the phone, the network, the iPad, and the games, when you yourself remain entranced under the guise of, “work I have to get done”, is simply not fair. And they see through it instantly. I’m certain it’s been heard as, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, iPad…blah, blah, blah, dinner…blah, blah, blah, blah, homework…blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, we’re taking them away…
And now I, and they, know it too.
Imagine all the children…living for the day…Oooo Hooo…