I wonder about levels of purity within myself. In both the physical and mental/spiritual senses. There are things I can do or not do, habits I can adopt or abolish, things I can strive for or disregard. What things are best? This depends on what I want. So what do I want?
That gargantuan question aside, my decision rests on
- what I want to be taking in, and
- what I am spending my time putting out.
Now, more on each point in simultaneity. Though some things might be pleasant, are they what I want to be spending my time on? This sounds petty and ridiculous, but I have a Twitter. It’s dumb, really. I originally made it to easily track what news articles I was reading, and I still think it can function in that capacity. But the draw of mostly-worthless 144-character comments by celebrities and people I don’t really know is just a time-suck. I should never actually open the site; I should just post things by clicking the “Share” button.
Moving on from what could become a pitiful whine-session about the faults of Twitter, we can look at the more abstract elements it represents. I’m putting out worthless things (tweets), and taking in worthless things (more tweets). As Stephen Covey would say, this is a lose-lose situation. Do I really need to read all those Tumblr posts? How much profit/pleasure do I really get out of reading friends’ Facebook statuses? The answers to these questions are stop, no, and not much.
I have been thinking about this for awhile, and always have to some extent, but what really clarified my thoughts was learning about John's Phones
. It's a phone that does absolutely nothing but make calls. It has a one-line display on the top, and you keep your contact numbers in a little paper booklet tucked in the back of the phone. It's quad-band and takes any SIM card, so it will work with practically any network.
Take this in contrast to the iPhone (or any "normal" cell phone). It represents so much *stuff* that can attack at any moment: you could get an email, a text, a Facebook alert, the Dictionary.com word of the day, a note that you need to update 7 of your 41 apps, and maybe a call or two. This all sits somewhere within your conscious or subconscious self, cluttering up the space, if not actively distracting. Being productive is about focus; humans can't actually multi-task.
Beyond what I'm taking in and putting out, it's about what I allow into my life. If I don't buy that full season of that one great TV show, I won't have the temptation to watch it. Plus I'll have thirty extra bucks to boot. But there is a place for that TV show. As I always seem to say, it boils down to balance. There are nights that it's OK to just sit and enjoy some mindless entertainment.
The essential question (at least today) is where that balance lies. To at least get closer to this balance, we must simply live and make, but not repeat, mistakes. The fear of mis-stepping prevents us from walking.
The bombardment of following the news just needs constant examination. In light of these thoughts, I just need to think ahead about what I will get out of it, and decide if that outcome is beneficial, neutral, or negative. Being aware, allowing myself to make mistakes, and learning from them is the key. Living is the key. Living, consciously.
The unexamined life is not worth living.
-- Socrates, Apology