opting out

Published: essays

thoughts on disconnection and disconnecting

a valley

I write this mostly for myself, but also for anyone who needs to hear it.

I've come to rely far too much on being plugged in to fill my time. There was a time, enticing, enthralling, where surfing felt I was drinking from the firehose daily. The extreme overstimulation of novelty always being around the corner, an f5 away, clearly took its toll on my mind over time. Worse yet were those innovations that impinged upon my already limited attention further. Notifications demanding to be looked at with absolute priority, absolute authority. One cannot hear themselves think in such circumstances, let alone appreciate that which is around them. There is always some hit just around the corner, what must be a delicious morsel of novelty, the next page of the world-story unfolding right before your eyes.

One must learn to disconnect from this. It is largely worthless, of no meaning nor consequence. At minimum, knowing in the now makes little difference over knowing tomorrow, or next week, or in several years, or in decades when "it", whatever it may be, has made its way into the history books, worn like a river stone. Would it really have made a difference to "be there"? To have seen your little slice of context, as bereft of true understanding as that falsified history would surely be? It seems to me that it is unlikely to have enriched your life in meaningful fashion.

It's as though there is this urge inside me, telling me I'm forgetting something, or that there is something I *need* to be doing right now that pushes me to reconnect. And yet every time, it's as though I've walked into the kitchen and promptly forgotten what I came in for. It's a mocking voice, one that says your satisfaction is just around the corner, that nigling feeling you are forgetting something, that you have something really really important to be doing right now. I feel it even as I write this, and yet, for the life of me, I cannot recall what in the world it is I am meant to be doing. This prevading sense of unease has been chasing me for years now. I've only now found a time in my life to begin to quell it in earnest. I hope to succeed in this endeavor soon. Obviously there are times when something really ought to take priority, but learning to fight this feeling of impending doom of missing the possible while losing out on experiencing the now is essential.

But now what? What is one to do when severing this connection to the novel? Well, as they say, the backlog ever beckons, yawning with the teeming masses of that which stood the test of time in some way. At some point in your life, these things merited your interest enough to stash them away for a rainy day. It'd be best to realize those days aren't far off in the future, but that feeling in your chest should be filled by that which merits your time. Learning to be alone with nothing but oneself, a book, and perhaps a beverage is an extremely important skill. Or perhaps another more general way to put it, to focus on the task at hand fully, whether that be painting, composing, writing nonsensical rambles, or even simply cleaning, with no exterior distractions impinging upon you, is a method of meditation in itself. The modern world demands your full attention, disallowing it that, focusing it on something of true import. This is a protest, against all that it wishes for.