Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fast v. Binge

~That flashing blue or yellow light on my recently purchased Samsung Galaxy S6~

I think to myself "What if it's important?", "What does the girlfriend need?" "What if it's my mom and it's urgent?" And suddenly, a single profound thought pops into my head "Jesus Christ Connor, you are sitting in an exam review you REALLY don't need your phone." 

I received my first computer in Kindergarten- it was a very old Gateway that had started to age and show the yellowing- a tale tell sign of 90s electronics (how chic). From an early age I was glued to my electronics. I received my own computer with internet in the third grade, first generation smartphone at some point in middle school... the list goes on. I've been glued to screens much longer than I want to admit, and before this fast I would have proudly stated how often I was in front of a screen. I felt smarter. I felt better informed. I felt like the world was a smaller place, and it was easier to understand. 

My parent's generation was never the type to be afforded the luxuries of smartphones, and if you wanted to plan a date you had to hope she didn't ditch you. Oh, your friend got too drunk and wandered off alone? Tough sh*t. You had to be more responsible in all facets of life; you had to be dependable when you weren't able to contact someone 24/7. My parents have always given me a hard time about being glued to the screen, and through my willful ignorance I honestly didn't realize how bad it was. During the fast I would sit in class and at work, and I would imagine my leg and pocket was vibrating, and as part of impulse I would look. "Strange," I thought, "No new messages". Had I become so used to a perpetual state of being connected to my friends, family and news outlets? It was nothing short of a surreal experience to finally realize I had become dependent (perhaps addicted is a more suitable term) to media.

When the San Bernardino shooting occurred, I wasn't aware of it until I got to my girlfriends house late at night and she mentioned it. Typically, a feed would be blowing up my phone letting me know every single detail, rumor and speculation of news events as they occurred but for the sake of the fast I shut those notifications off. I was shocked, and felt even more disconnected than before. When the fast was over I decided to go back on Reddit's timeline of reported events for the shooting and analyze the play-by-play. Many of the reports were inaccurate, and maybe waiting to receive a more developed story helped me in the long run. 

While I felt more accomplished when I used multiple forms of technology to do research, and complete day to day tasks I found myself more productive when I had a one track mind. Additionally, the world seemed to slow down- I didn't feel as stressed or rushed when it came to school and work. Since the fast I have cut down the notifications I receive on my phone as well as installed an app for my Mac named 'SelfControl' it blocks certain sites when you enable it, and allows yourself to complete your homework. For someone with ADHD and abysmal time management skills, this fast may have been a free recalibration towards academia, my mental wellbeing and a more involved social life.

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