A funny thing happened today
As I sat out in town,
With my eyes undistracted.
I was surrounded by humans
And yet all of them seemed
Lost in a trance of hypnosis.
They were all looking down
All scrolling their thumbs
All silent, fixated on screens.
I sat undetected.
I sat undisturbed.
I sat mulling and thinking.
It wasn’t long ago
That I would have been
Nursing my own nerves like these others.
As I sat and observed,
I met eyes with another
Whose years were much greater than mine.
As he passed by, he smiled and asked,
“How are YOU today?”
Which prompted a brief conversation.
The we parted ways,
He left with a smile,
And it stirred in my heart many questions:
How many times
Must I have missed
Sweet conversation with others like this?
How many times had I been the one
That choose to surrender
My eyes to a glowing screen?
Had I really allowed
The gift of my mind
To be at the mercy of notifications?
For so long,
I had willingly sacrificed
My soul on a digital altar.
Year after year
I never saw
My digital life as a problem.
Long was the list of
Reasons I justified
My time spent “connected” online.
Countless hours spent curating photos.
And checking apps with addictive consistency.
I had enough.
The decision to walk away
Wasn’t made in
One frivolous over-reaction.
It had been a long time coming
And the pain of grief gave me the
Confidence to pull the plug.
Felt disjointed at first,
Like I was missing out on something important.
But the longer I spent
With my eyes both wide open,
The more I felt alive.
My opinions became my own again.
To be made and unmade
As I chose.
When I talked with others
Whose thoughts differed from mine
Compassion became my new norm.
Time itself seemed to slow it’s pace.
Each moment to be fully absorbed,
If I chose to digest it.
And here I met the fork in the road:
Continue on this path against the current
Or return to my old life of noise.
Truthfully, there were moments when
The noise felt like
A more enjoyable alternative.
In the moments when I was
Met by the torments
In the hours when I was
Forced to face
The darkness of my own reflection.
These were the moments
When the thought of those apps
Seemed most appealing.
Living life half-awake
Stings far less than
Living life fully-present.
But, stuffing my soul down with
Leads to the ultimate crippling of my soul.
So, I burned the ships.
I severed the ties.
I walked away.
The pain of missing out on memes and political rants
Pales in comparison to
The remorse of a life lived through screens.
If you are one of the golden few
That have the self discipline to utilize
Only that which is beneficial online–I applaud you.
To the rest of the population,
I urge you to take a moment to reflect
And weigh the cost.
Our souls are not as unscathed as we assume.
We overestimate the strength of our own minds.
And time is not an infinite commodity.