As we near the season of appreciation and gratitude, I am doing something I have not done in years. Writing with pen on carefully selected paper to various people who have contributed something to me. It occurs to me how revolutionary this act feels now, when 30 years ago it was routine.
I recently found myself expressing that it scared me to realize most of my support network is virtual, even though virtual people are real too. Somewhere. : )
I felt pangs of guilt for even making this statement, because of course I recognize I have supportive extended family members and countless people who have supported me in various ways I know and other ways I may never know. I would not exist as the energy, light, and blob of cells I am without support of many kinds. In addition, by saying most of my support system in life is “virtual,” I am aware this is a direct result of my own choices.
For years I have earned a living in such a way that I spend 10+ hours a day online. This means that by default, if I am going to daily prepare meals, exercise, and attend to my relationship with my child and transport her to her activities, it is far more “convenient” to join another Facebook interest group, and even participate in meditation online versus travel to my local community meditation group. In addition, I find myself often using technology rather than direct communication even with family who live within a block or mile of me. And joining non-virtual exercise and crafting groups that communicate primarily online with one another.
Most astounding for me to consider: I have not met my colleagues, clients or employers in person in over a decade.
Now that I earned enough money to obtain a 21st century phone, I even found myself doing something I swore I would never do as long as I live: Text the person I live in the same house with. Really? I couldn’t get up and walk to another room and talk to the person with my own mouth?
Starting 2016, I am rebooting my life and embarking on a new journey that involves much more time away from the computer screen. Hallelujah! The funny thing is, while I was walking around the campus where I’ll be enrolled in classes toward this new life, literally every person walking past me (under age 30 by appearance) was holding up a device a few inches from their face while walking in a straight line.
Not only do I have great physical trouble doing this myself so I don’t even attempt to walk and text, but it occurred to me it was like watching people walk with a virtual reality in front of reality. It becomes harder and harder to tell which is which.
It occurs to me that many of us increasingly live such lives. Are we going to be living smaller and smaller lives revealing the Russian nesting dolls of reality within a reality within a reality? All this makes me want to go up to people and ask, “Are you real? Can you see me? Can you see you?”
Give me awareness of my own nature, a great green tree, big sky above, and luscious soil under my feet. I’m walking home.