Monday, September 8, 2014

Involuntary Disconnect

This week, I learned a very important life lesson, against my own will.

I’ve been wanting to conduct a social experiment for awhile now, where I surgically remove my cell phone from my retinas, and occasionally, my asshole, in order to reconnect with my surroundings. To be fully present.

Of course, excuses are abundant, and sometimes motivation is not. However, sometimes fate happens, and gives you the kick in the ass you need to get things done, and push your boundaries.

This weekend, my phone suffered a tragic accident at the Dallas Bull, and had no chance of revival. I’d like to say there was a cool story behind it, like it flew out of my hand while I was riding the mechanical bull, but it didn’t, just dropped. I only have a purple bruise to show for the mechanical bull, but that’s another story that I’ll save for another life.

In the slow motion replay of my phone gracefully proving that gravity exists, I thought I would be distraught not having my phone. I was never disconnected, I always had my shield to protect me from small talk and awkward encounters. Now, i’d have to talk about the weather and make eye contact? What the hell kind of torture was my fate offering?

Instead of being angry about lacking the means for communication, I am more aware. I am in a sense liberated. No one is bothering me to ask where I am, or what I’m doing. No one is harassing me that I missed a deadline, or I forgot to call them back, or meet them for lunch. Instead, I am getting e-mails, and hand written notes left on my desk, or people knocking on my door, and I love it.

On the way to class, I was able to breathe a little easier. I looked around and was amazed by how robotic our strides appeared. I saw about 50 people, each walking different directions, headed to different classes, but all walking the same pose. Eyes down, walking crooked lines, many into my path (ugh! No really, it’s fine. I love it.) Many apologized, but some gave me death eyes, passing the blame of the traffic bump on me. I accept.

What I noticed: the sky is extremely blue today, which will later blend into a cotton candy sky that tempts me to go buy actual cotton candy. But, I’m on a diet, and you can’t bite the sky. More flowers were planted on campus for this semester. Not all of the palm trees are brown and dying a slow death. The fashion on campus is really diverse, and really inspiring. I never realized how nice everyone dressed. (The conceited part of my brain only really cares about my own closet, but I can appreciate it.) No one actually wants to talk to me to my face without minor stutters, losing their train of thought, or breaking eye contact. That’s fine with me. For once I can proudly say, “It’s not me, it’s you,” and mean it.

I’m more attentive to the smaller things, that often get overlooked when my eyes are inside my screen, rather than in my head. I like not having to answer, “what’s up?” three to five times a day. I live a very simple life, the answer is more often than not, “not much,” or “laying on my couch with Netflix and cookies.” Instead, I am making eye contact and small talk. I am persistent with people making conversation with me, because they can’t text me, and I’m glad for that.

Although my screen is shattered, I have fifteen unread text messages and two missed calls. I can’t see who they’re from, but I have a very strong feeling I’m not missing much. (no offense if you sent me a message, I’m very bummed I can’t see your text.)

It’s been three days, and my new phone isn’t supposed to come for another week.

For right now, I’m enjoying the silence and gaining my eyes and a little bit of my sanity back. I’m re-exploring my surroundings. I was so connected, that this little bit of disconnect feels like a welcome relief. This involuntary lesson was nice, but next time, hopefully it will be as a result of my own devices (no pun intended.)

I encourage you to take a break and look around, or maybe talk to me for the time being. Our campus is really pretty, and I really like having conversations about anything besides the weather or politics.

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