24/7/365: One Vanguardian’s Perspective on Our Plugged-In Nature

I took a day off from work to run some errands and tend to some personal business, causing me to ride New York City’s subway system all day. Riding the subway for a total of three hours of the day led me to realize how dependent we are on electronic devices. I sat and observed everyone’s activities: 10% of the passengers were talking to someone (or to themselves), 10% were sleeping, 2% were reading an actual paperback book, and the other 78% were occupied with an electronic handheld device (iPod, iPad, MP3 player, Nook, Kindle).

I remember the days when I would ride the train with my mother as a child and be mesmerized by the big overhead poster advertisements. At one point I considered visiting Dr. Zizmor or attending Metropolitan College. Now what you get are alcohol, vocational training, or television ads. I wonder when those postings will go digital also. Instead of 12″ x 36″ paper banners above your head, wouldn’t it be cool to sit and actually see snippets of those shows on little monitors or commercials like on YouTube? Everyone seems to be upgrading to 2-D interactions.

After my long day, I picked up two daughters and decided to take them to our favorite little local diner. After ordering, I looked over at my two girls and––surprise, surprise––they were both playing on their handheld electronic devices. My twelve-year-old was playing Words With Friends on her tablet, and my six-year-old was playing Temple Run on her sister’s iTouch. I laughed at myself because I too had given in to society’s gidget-gadget habits––and brought my kids along. I want my kids to evolve with the times, but more importantly I want them to continue to develop their minds. They need to read and write more (I don’t care if it’s on their computer, tablet, or cell phone). We all are so fascinated by these devices––whether they be for work purposes, to play games, shop, or to access social network sites––that we don’t take time to relax our minds. Everyone (adults included) needs “offline time.” Time to think and reflect on life––a moment to see where you are professionally, domestically, mentally, financially… I’ve asked my daughters to begin keeping a journal to write their thoughts and transcribe some plans/ideas, and my oldest responded with “Oh, maybe I can start a blog.” Damn digital age. These modern times have everyone so enthralled with electronics that we forget to rest our eyes, our minds, and our souls and take in some quiet reflection time.

Commuters who switch from driving to mass transit often miss the forced “offline” and disconnected time they used to have while driving. So in a world of planned “unplugging” events, take time to observe your actions to and from work the next few days and see if you’re automatically prone to take out that little electronic device. If you notice that you do, make a conscientious effort to put it away and quietly meditate. You’ll be glad you did.

Author: Chantelle Santiago

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