I have a confession: I’m lazy. Some will say: but you go to the gym almost every day, you are writing every day, you do this list of things, so surely you aren’t lazy. Lazy doesn’t mean I’m not doing some things, but I’m doing them and then sitting on my bum the rest of the day. I’m procrastinating on things that really ought to be done… months ago! If anything, the gym has made me more lazy because then I feel like I’ve accomplished something physical and have earned the right to put forth minimum effort for the rest of the day.
As my sister just pointed out, “We have the technology to make so many things easier, but we use them to be lazy instead.”
Are we dropping our kids in front of the tv/xbox/netflix/satellite babysitters while we fill our dishwashers and run the laundry and then zone out into social media while the day passes us by? I just made baked potatoes in the microwave in six minutes instead of the hour it used to take in the oven! We have tech that saves us hours off of our chores and then we don’t invest the time that we saved for anything valuable. I have a lot of friends and family on facebook and socializing with them is valuable, keeping up on current events is worthwhile, expressing ourselves is constructive; but, so much of our time is spent escaping with mindless likes and shares and memes… and I’m not talking about the clever memes that make you think a little. Those are good.
For a long time I refused to join twitter because I couldn’t handle the idea of one more time suck on my life. I didn’t want yet another excuse to be tied to my phone and avoid responsibilities. I’m lazy and I know that escaping the boring and icky parts of the day is too tempting for me. That’s actually why I quit playing all facebook games but one… (If this were a twelve step program I would say, “Hi. I’m Rhiannon and it has been about an hour since I played Two Dots.” Who am I kidding? I have no intention of quitting that one, I’m only here for the coffee and doughnuts.) I did have a valid reason to recently join twitter and I have found, if used carefully, it’s incredibly informative and helpful to my writing and researching. It is helping me connect with people and information sources differently than I can elsewhere. I’m following specific people, and unfollowing specific people, to make sure I’m getting things that are thought provoking and educational, instead of just a drain on my day. I’ve severely toned down my facebook usage. And there are many days that I don’t even turn on the tv… until my DVR gets too full and I wind up watching six hours of Doctor Who and four hours of Rizzoli & Isles so that it will stop alerting me.
Sometimes I use tech at the gym. I’ve Instgrammed during leg presses. I’ve Tweeted during sit-ups. The more torturous the workout, or at least the more tortured I feel at having to be doing something outside of the house and not in my pajamas, the more I cling to my escapes. I can forget I’m doing what I’m doing for a few minutes. And I guess that isn’t exactly lazy, but could it become a bad habit of numbing reality? Is it the internet equivalent of a shot of Jack Daniels minus the blood alcohol level? I guess as long as I know that most of my escaping is actually into research or writing or valid socializing, then I feel okay about it.
I would be remiss to not point out that I am not always good about ignoring my phone when I’m around people. It depends on the circumstances and the people involved, of course, as I try not to be rude. But there are people and issues of great value to me and there are things that aren’t. If you want to have a conversation about football and the weather and I could be reading a report on some international current event or chatting with someone I care about who is hundreds or thousands of miles away, you go ahead and have your conversation. I’m going to invest my time and attention where it benefits me. It’s not like I know a damn thing about football, anyway! But I will not ignore you. When you come back around to something I can contribute to, I’ll still be there. Maybe that’s selfish. Maybe it’s just wise time management.
Where does convenience become laziness? Where does a minor mental vacation become escaping the reality of our lives? When is multi-tasking productive and when is it spreading ourselves too thin? Are we doing anything with the time and energy that we have saved? I’m not sure. It’s a hazy area for each person. But I think that we need to be conscious of our use of the technology around us as well as conscious of what’s going on in our lives. Is it helping us to grow into the person that we want to be? Is it helping us hold it together on a devastating or emotional day? Or, is it keeping us from the emotional growth to handle the next hard day when we can’t escape? I have no intention of giving up technology or social media. But I do have every intention of trying to use it with awareness of balance: what it is giving to me versus what it is taking. And that is a personal call that each of us must make.