Many times throughout the day I find myself scrolling through the “Explore” tab on Instagram to pass a few minutes or to find something semi-amusing. Unfailingly every time I do this I come across inspirational posts with messages such as, “Live life to the fullest,” or “Be present in the now,” and “Live in the moment”.
I can’t help but think that the thousands upon thousands of people that view and “like” those photos are doing exactly what I am: scrolling through an endless feed of posts with no real goal or end in mind. I wonder, are we all hypocrites for liking posts with those messages while, at the very same time, we waste minutes and even hours distracting ourselves from life and from “the moment” by being overly focused on internet feeds and social media accounts?
It seems to me that we all have this compelling and almost addictive desire to be distracted from real life– to forget about what’s actually going on around us and drift off to this superficial, virtual world. It doesn’t take much observing to see that this intentional self-distraction takes place everywhere and all the time. We’ve all seen it; the couple out on a nice dinner date that make more eye contact with their smart phones than with each other; the grandkids at a family gathering who are far more interested in playing games on their phones than they are in helping grandma bake some homemade cookies; and, last but certainly not least, those seriously delusional people who think that an acceptable time to scan irrelevant Facebook statuses is when they are driving a car.
While I feel that I am somewhat better off than a lot of my peers I know that I am still guilty every day of this intentional self-distraction. And it makes me sad that I play a consistent part in a trend that I absolutely hate and wish would come to an end. I want an answer as to why we are constantly feeling the need to escape our realities. Are we bored with the world and our surroundings? Have we become so desensitized to life that we no longer feel any curiosity or excitement for it? Or have most of us settled in a place where we are unhappy and wanting more from life but not willing to take the action needed to fulfill our deepest desires and passions?
I’m very confident in saying that none of us find any genuine life-satisfaction in Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other social media/ distraction site. They can certainly be used positively as tools in our day to day lives but never will they satisfy our hearts or our minds.
Although the focus of this post has thus far been on social media and smart phones, it seems vital to also point out television as a prime go-to for self-distraction. How many times do you actually feel your mind actively engaging when you have the tv on? If you do a little introspective exploring the next time you’re watching tv or Netflix, you’ll more than likely find nothing more than an empty room; four white walls with not even so much as a cobweb in the corner. Hell, even the news– which is supposed to be actively engaging us as citizens into what’s going on in our own society– plays the distraction game. They give us the stories that will leave us wide-eyed and half brain dead, not the ones that keep us connected to the very living world around us. And we get these stories because they are the ones that bring in money for the news companies– meaning we tune in far more often to those useless and irrelevant stories!
I think it’s time for folks to start taking a look inside themselves, into their hearts and minds. This Earth and this life that we are given is nothing short of miraculous and it’s time for us to start appreciating it. Let’s put the smart phones away more often and leave the ear buds at home. Let’s talk to and learn about each other; I think we’ll be utterly astounded at what genuine value we can find in the people around us. Let’s turn off the tv and call out the Netflix addiction that has become way too commonplace and accepted in our society. Let’s stop watching the news until they drop all the propaganda and bull shit and give us actual substance.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not possible for us to completely rid ourselves of distraction; on some level it is needed for rest and relaxation if nothing else. I know that I’ll continue using Instagram and Snapchat in ways that add very little value to my life. My hope is simply that I will use them less frequently. I’d like to take back, at the very least, a half-hour of that time spent in self-distraction and instead observe my surroundings, or maybe have a conversation with a complete stranger. I no longer want to delude myself into thinking that I will somehow gain meaning and satisfaction from empty entertainment. I hope to eliminate some of my self-distraction and replace it with real life in its rawest and most magical form.
DANNY P WRITES