March 6, 2018 by Cláudia
A few days ago I took some time to simply do some thinking. Something I must confess I haven’t been doing as much as I used to. I have been putting it off for a while but it was finally time to address it: I had to acknowledge how my productivity has been significantly decreasing mainly due to too many distractions.
While I’ve always had a strong urge to make a difference in the world in many different areas, I’ve been spending too much time doing things that are not productive or healthy and I haven’t been nearly as active as I wanted to be. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think leisure is the opposite of productivity – reading a good book, watching a good movie, walking in a nice part, doing yoga, being with friends… – all of these are useful for my well-being and for my growth as a person and therefore I see them as productive.
What has been causing me frustration is noticing how all or most of my free time is spent in useless activities that are nothing but distractions. Not that distractions are bad either, at least in moderation, but I’ve been getting the feeling that I’ve just been distracting myself instead of living.
There are so many distractions all around us and they are easier. And lighter. It is easier to watch a comedy channel on Youtube than it is to watch an in-depth thought-provoking movie. It’s easier to play The Sims for 3 hours than it is to get out of the house and meet people (social anxiety doesn’t help either).
Again, there is nothing wrong with doing things that relax us. Playing The Sims is fun and it helps me to let go of tension after a particularly stressful day. Watching comedy videos with little substance is great for making us laugh, there is no need to be serious all the time. When stress levels are high, or I am just tired, there is nothing better than making a cup of tea, getting a blanket and watching something to get distracted. It improves my mood and allows me to press the reset button.
The problem is that the ratio between productivity/distraction has been highly imbalanced. I feel like for several weeks I have not done anything that I consider productive. It seems like I have become too permissive to a point where every single minute of free time is spent with some sort of distraction. While distractions were initially meant to relax me, they now wear me out. I wake up with little motivation and don’t want to get out of bed. Self-esteem is not at its best either since I am not doing much that I can be proud of.
It’s been making me feel disconnected and powerless. I’ve been living in front of a computer screen, avoiding getting out of the house whenever it is not necessary. Avoiding reading or watching things that I actually think may be useful. Avoiding speaking to other people. Ultimately, avoiding to live. I promise myself “I will only watch one more video and then I’ll read a book. I will watch one more episode of Friends and then I’ll turn off the computer.” perfectly aware that 3 hours later I’ll still be sitting in front of the screen.
My eyes are tired and so is my mind. I am tired of not thinking. The Internet is a world with limitless interesting possibilities yet I’ve been only looking for things to pass the time. More importantly, there is a world outside the screens in which likes, views and captions don’t matter. There is a world outside the screens. A whole world with real people, not just pictures and videos. And nature, and sun and rain. Outside the screens there is a world that needs every single one of us to be present and awake. Wars begin, people are being exploited, Governments neglect people’s needs, corporations continue to put profit ahead of people and social justice remains a mere mirage. All of this and much more is happening while we are distracted and in a way because we are distracted.
People today are informed, interested and argumentative. But distracted and worn out. We know that things must change yet we feel powerless. In many ways, the Internet could be a catalyst for change – it provides information about nearly everything. Yet, at the same time, there is so much content online that it is easy to get lost and feel paralysed with choices. Distracted.
I think what is happening to me is that my approach to technology has changed. I used to see it as an instrument – to share my views, to learn about new things, to keep in touch with people and also as a form of entertainment. Somehow this has changed and lately being online has become more an end than a means. Somehow lately being online has turned into an escape from the real world instead of a means to become more knowledgeable and active in the real world.
Technology was created to serve us, to make our lives easier. Not to suck us into a virtual world and erase our light. Our potential. I feel worn out, disconnected, therefore I am clearly not using it to my advantage. Our lives are fleeting. Soon I’ll be at the end of my days looking back. This has compelled me to take a step back and look at how I am choosing to live my free time. I had to ask myself: What am I creating? How am I positively impacting the people around me? What kind of energy am I bringing into the world? What memories am I creating that I will cherish? The answers right now are undeniably disappointing. I realized I was moving further from who I want to become.
Life is a constant learning process made of reevaluations – I had to come to terms with my inactivity. I am determined to change because I realized I am following a path that doesn’t lead to the uncovering of my full potential. It cannot lead me elsewhere other than frustration, disappointment and discontent.
We can all change the world for the better. We can. And we have such immense power to do so without even realizing. If only we were not distracted…