The rise of social media and the death of living.

Warning: This blog may not be for everyone and may also be a culmination of past blogs written by yours truly…but lets see where it goes.

Just for an instant lets take a step back in time to somewhere in the 80’s. I’m not overly fond of the 80’s as a whole because that’s where I became the recipient of most of the bullying I endured. While it was a decade of excess it was also a decade of anticipation and having to wait for pretty much everything. We had to wait for phone calls. We had to send a letter via the postal service…and so on and so on. I remember getting that feeling in the pit of my stomach waiting for a “yes” or a “no” to whatever the question was. You wondered what people were thinking. You wondered what stand folks were taking on what subject or controversy. Even in the 90’s folks still talked face to face about what they saw on television the night before. We stood around the proverbial water cooler and discussed everything from terrorism to a white bronco. We talked about movies. We spoke about our childhood heroes with animation and unbridled reverence and only stopped in amazement to hear about someone else’s childhood hero. We agreed and disagreed and life went on through its many seasons of wonderment.

Flash forward to the present. Everybody knows what everyone else is thinking and folks are ticked off for one reason or excuse and it doesn’t matter which. All because of social media. I don’t want to body slam social media in its entirety. There are good things that come from it. Certain types of information can be found and lost again in social media. You can keep up with family. You can contact a long lost best friend (this actually happened to me). This is all great stuff! Any more I look on facebook and see angry people. People upset because someone looked at them the wrong way or breathed wrong. Or folks are consumed with politics. Like, really consumed. Or someone did their laundry that day just like every other Wednesday. I’ve become bogged down with a lot of it. But most of all, I cant believe I’m saying this, I liked it better when I didn’t know certain things. Truly, how many times a day do you check your cell or your computer to find out what kind of reaction you got or if you got a “like” after you submitted a post to a glorified popularity contest. I noticed the absence of social media when I was dealing with some family stuff the past couple of months. I found that not only did I have a chance to help out in a more committed way, but I also had more time to practice my kung fu. I was able to cover my Shaolin Kempo advanced forms, combinations, and blocking systems. I also had time to fit in Tai Chi and similar arts during this time and established some great training habits.

Lets face it!!! I could spend my time worrying about a post or I could use that time investing in something far more important. I’ve cited this guy before. I don’t like dropping names in my blog so I’ll respect his anonymity. A dear friend and mentor from where I used to live talked to me once about “unplugging” from the computer. Social media. Everything. He told me he was looking forward to retirement so he could move to a remote location and spend time with family & friends and practice his kung fu. Its a quiet and simple dream. For the most part I try to remain relatively private and do my thing and while I’m doing that, its hard to not get excited at the prospect of living that dream. What about you?? What could you get done in the course of a day or a week if you weren’t plugged in?? The folks I know that aren’t are living happier and less stressful lives. But think about it. They aren’t being manipulated by any media outlets. They aren’t compelled to like stuff that doesn’t matter. They aren’t being ignited by all the evil in the world. Think of the possibilities of living life. Think of the possibilities of living in experiences. Were we really created to rant on FB? Were we really created to live a life following a celebrity? Were we really created to celebrate a celebrity’s birthday or mourn their loss with a cyber eulogy? Were we really created to fight hate with hate? Were you really created to follow in another human’s footsteps?

So, it comes down to this. Can we truly appreciate one another without the complications of technological interference? It may be the very thing that is holding us back from real relationships. Real experiences. The real answer may be bittersweet. We all have the answer inside of us.

I have the opportunity to teach kids self defense. Its an opportunity that I embrace. One of the hardest parts of my job is getting a kid to turn off the PS4 and spend 15 minutes a day practicing their martial arts. Don’t get me wrong, games are cool. But when you invest in yourself you get so much more than the superficial gratification of beating a videogame. Teaching someone a martial art is something they can keep for the rest of their lives. An art continually gives back. It hones the mind. It gives you focus. An art is like a giant puzzle that you are getting close to solving, but can never finish. But you try anyway because your close. If you’re dedicated, you search for each piece with diligence. I realize I’m off topic a little here, but its just to illustrate a point that there’s more to life than whenever we pull out our cell to check a status.

Hopefully this was thought provoking enough to make someone wonder.

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