The now paradox

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Mar 07, 2022
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Here's a simple fact that has significantly changed how we live and fill our time above ground...


On the 29th June 2007 Apple launched the first Iphone. A device capable of holding mobile applications and truly capturing our attention 24/7.


The way in which most of us experience the world ever since is fundamentally different. One of the most significant changes is how we experience 'now'.


Prior to Smart Phones, the majority of us spent our time communicating with people in real time. Mobile phones were common and people did something terribly old-fashioned called 'speaking with someone', using their voice, rather than letters.


There was a kind of social etiquette around the appropriate times to call and people would often switch their phones off. When you used your phone it was often to directly communicate with real people.


Screen time use results pre-covid suggest anywhere between 3.15 and 4.5 hours per day on average spent on devices - not including TV's and computer screens.


Just think about those numbers for a second.


Prior to 2007 we spent little time on phones, we could differentiate between work time and private time, we searched for information online or scrolled though pages in a thing called a book...


...post 2020: content is served to us by others, we spend less time communicating and more time trying to get the attention of others. Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram curate what we receive and they're all in the attention seeking business. As users, we're on the hook, and there's an abundance of baited lines.


A question for you:

When you get a spare moment in your day, how do you spend it?


Do you sit, think, talk, relax, breathe, meditate, appreciate the sights, sounds, smells, taste's, feel of the world around you?


Many years ago, I worked as a professional photographer, traveling the world taking 'images' of people and places. The images I captured made me both proud and sad. I distinctly remember shooting a scene in a tiny Nepalese Village on the Annapurna circuit.


It was a beautiful scene, lovely old houses in the background, dirt and stones underfoot and the cutest little Nepalese kids interacting and playing with an attractive foreign woman. Big smiles on everyone's faces, clearly having a great time.


These moments come and go quickly, so I had to capture it. I was focused, I lay on the ground to get the right shot...click, click, click, click. It was over quickly, the kids were off, I got the shots. The woman was laughing and smiling. I was smiling too, hopefully I got some shots of value.


At the end of the day, her favourite encounter was that one and I had been there...but it wasn't my experience. I captured it...for others...for people I don't know and will likely never know. These days that image might be straight up to instagram, facebook or something else. It might gets a tonne of likes. I might get instantly gratified.


What an idiot I was!


I was in Nepal, a long way up the Annapurna Circuit, it's unlikely I'll be there again. I traded the 'now' of a beautiful memory, to capture something for others to enjoy. Now, just like you, the kids and the woman, I'll be dead one day, but they had that experience together and I took the cheap option. They were richer for it...and I poorer.


That was the year 1998.


Today mobile phones have created far too more opportunities to trade the 'now' for something else - something we will never get value from.


What you do with your time is your call, I just hope you can stop for a minute and consider what you're trading off. 'Now' doesn't come again.


Here's some things you can do right now to help rescue your life from the needs of over 7 billion faceless others (total mobile handset owners):


  1. Use the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone in the evening (1-2 hours before you go to bed) and leave it on until 1 hour after you wake up.
  2. Switch off notifications for all Apps - unless they are related to an emergency situation - you choose when you engage with them, not the other way around.
  3. Do a weekly review of your 'screen time' usage and ask yourself seriously whether there might be something else you could do with that time. Remember, every minute on your screen is one less minute doing something real.
  4. Stop taking photos. Start making memories. Trust me, I spent years behind a camera and my favourite moments had nothing to do with capturing other people's.
  5. Go for a walk and leave your phone at home. If you're worried about safety, remember this: Your ancestors survived without mobile phones for over 2 million years. You should be fine.
  6. When you catch yourself watching crap do this simple exercise:
  • Identify five things you can see
  • four things you can touch
  • three things you can hear
  • two things you can smell
  • one thing you can taste.


You have one life...


...live it with all your senses switched on and your phone switched off.


And if you're wondering if I made any money from the photo...


...no, I knocked a setting on the camera and the images were useless. That's what I call a perfect lesson.


Take care and go well.


Troy


P.S. The image on this post is from Canva, the photographer Hadynyah from Getty Images Signature. I don't know the photographer and the image carries no emotion for me but thanks Hadynyah for a nice image.

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