I’m trying in a number of ways to steer from unproductive choices in favour of healthier ones that improve me in one or more ways. As so many commentators (mostly Baby Boomers who still think they got Existence right and want to lecture young people, but I digress…) have written, our eyes are glued to screens and we are on the edge of our seats wanting tweets and soundbites that summarize larger issues seconds after something happened. The overwhelming tidal wave of speculation, opinions, and largely incorrect information about the explosions at the Boston Marathon is a good example. I kept checking Twitter in spite of knowing better. There’s no use in reading people’s opinions or diving into dialogue when the fires weren’t even put out yet (literally!) and most of what was said would rouse debate that just isn’t worth the time. Keeping up-to-the-minute on news essentially serves the purpose of either outshowmanship on information, or to get into arguments like a genuine troll.
I know that it’s not a very constructive use of time or healthy builder of character to check my phone for texts and emails and tweets every couple of minutes. I try to resist the distraction and instead take time to do things that make slow and steady, lasting differences. I’m starting to get more exercise, the sweaty cardio kind (not at a gym or under advice of a trainer, but it doesn’t hurt to jog on the spot or dance like an idiot until the sweat starts to drip to the floor). I’m trying to get on top of keeping my living space orderly. I’m trying to read more in longer stretches than five to ten minutes at a time before I check my phone again. As brain-building as puzzle games can be, they’re taking up way too much of my time, and are an inadequate refuge from real-life problem solving that depends on other people’s constructive cooperation, which is a jackpot only hit once in a blue moon.
The runners of the Boston Marathon doubtless spend much of their free time in healthy pursuits of personal growth. The spectators who go to watch on the marathon route might be more likely to have similar habits or aspirations that take their eyes off their emails in favour of exercise, and they decide to get in the moment out in the fresh air to take in the experience. This is another layer of the sad/tragic/unfortunate dimensions of the bombings at a significant occasion. Those who were physicially injured or traumatized to witness the event were there for very healthy reasons, of involvement both physical and mental. Those who proceeded to watch rushed, misreporting news or tweet usually racist speculations, or respond angrily to those things – they were less likely to be applying themselves to something so engaging and constructive.
If I seem like a hypocrite for writing something online (technically on my phone) to criticize the habit of always being online and/or on one’s phone – this is two days later, more elaborate than a tweet, and doing this on my phone means I’m not currently playing a game. And this is more of a criticism of/reinforcement for myself to live up to my goals and proclamations of not turning into an ageist stereotype. I only have two more days to righteously exclude myself from generalizations people make about today’s damn 20-somethings, after all.