Memories from the Balcony – Enough Already

It’s amazing to me. Technology is growing so fast. Or maybe this all growing too fast, no?
Cell phones are the new thing to have. It’s true, there’s a line between who has which cell phone and who uses the updates or knows how.
I spent an afternoon scrolling through my phone in a store. I was about to buy a new phone. I was trying to figure something out when out of nowhere, a young salesperson approached and flipped through my phone in seconds. Literally, this happened in seconds and just like that, all of my questions were answered.
I’m not sure if this is the direction we want to go in.
I don’t know if technology is the answer.
But try to take this away and I get it –
There’s a fight on your hands.

I need something more than a text or an email.
I need more substance in my life.
I want something that builds more fiber between us.
Something that weaves us together –
Or maybe I’m the minority with this.
Maybe my need for interaction is somewhat outdated or antiquated.
But either way, I’d rather have a real life than a virtual one.
I’d rather hear a real voice than an automated one.
I’d rather have real friends who know me than an app who only knows what it’s programmed to understand.

It’s true though. It’s our experiences that bring us together.
This becomes our bond. This is what makes us familiar to each other.
So, in essence, our history with each other and our experiences together is the reason why we understand one another. More to the point, amongst us, this is why words aren’t always necessary.
Sometimes, words don’t need to be said because I know and you know that often, it’s the silence that shows us everything.

It’s that knowing look and that understanding nod which is perfect when you think you’re alone in this world. Just when you need it most, that look, that understanding nod, that knowing gesture from a real, live person is there for you and suddenly, the world’s not so lonely anymore.

For as long as I can recall, there was a space or something empty, let’s say.
I was always looking for that right spot where I could fit in perfectly.
Maybe this is why technology has become so social.
Maybe this helps the person who would otherwise be uncomfortable because there’s the protection of anonymity behind a phone or computer screen.

I get that too.
I can understand this.
But me, I want more.
I’ve always wanted more.

As a kid, there was a missing element which had no name or face; but to me, this was obvious. To me, I noticed something off which was either about me or maybe this was the nature of my surroundings. This could have also had something to do with the quality of my environment.
Maybe this was due to family challenges or perhaps this was a need for attention which was never properly validated.
This is valid too because I did have needs. I did want to be noticed.
I wanted to play and have fun.
I wanted to be invited and included.
And it’s not easy to be a kid.
It’s not easy to be an adult either.

Maybe this was a product of my early friendships or perhaps this was the training I received in childhood banter. Maybe this came from the constant need to protect myself or to be at arms and defend myself from schoolyard bullies.

I’m not saying this was always physical. There’s different kinds of bullying.
I’m not saying this all stemmed from the fights after school at 3:00pm on the playground.
I can see how this goes though. I can see how life is either physical or emotional.

I can see why people take to slander. I can see where and how character assassinations are used to feed the gossips.
I can see where bullies get their fuel sources from.
I can see the pecking order and the different versions of society and control. So, I get the appreciation for a degree of separation.
I really do.
I know about the who’s who and the what’s what. Sure, I can see the food chain as far as who gets what or who gets nothing in the social brackets of cool and unpopular.
I can see how this can be cyclical too. I can see how this becomes almost like a caste system of social hierarchy.
But more, I can also see how the world can be a lonely place. With or without technology, I know that we’ve advanced as people but our core is still in need of human interaction.

I can see why people choose to become reclusive. I can see why people choose to move off the grid.

I was thinking about the creators of technology. I was thinking about the stories I’ve heard of them teaching their kids to stay away from the technology which they’ve created. I suppose this is no different from when The Old Man used to tell me to “Get away from that television! It’ll rot your brain,” and then The Old Man would tell me to go outside and do something. 

There is something called the Luddite System –

The Luddites were 19th century textile workers who were against machines and the industrialization of their work.
I think about the creators of technology who teach this to their children so that, in a sense, their technology doesn’t rot the kid’s brain.
Go out and play . . . and stay away from the evil I create is how I see it.
Think about this – think about the need to have things become easy.
We’ve been trying to create an easier softer way since the days of caves and rocks.

I think about the ease of math and the basic desire to have life become simple.
I think about the desire to have everything be at the push of a button or less challenging.
This way, our surface level of thinking can focus on life without worry.

I don’t know why or how we’ve become so dependent upon technology.
I can remember losing my wallet. This was the worst thing that could happen. This was so personal because my important belongings were in my wallet. I had money in there. I had I.D. and my credit cards and bank cards.
I can remember the panic that took place, until I found it. Then, sheesh, a sigh of relief took place.
The same thing happens only now it’s our phones that have all of our value.
I don’t remember phone numbers anymore. Everything is point and click.
Everything is a download or a website. There’s no need to retain information.
We have computers do that for us.

Look at it like this – I am in the mental health field and never in my life did I expect automated features or online features to support our mental wellbeing.
Although great to some degree, I think we’ve gone too far away from each other.
Everything has become virtual and remote.
Do you know what?
The Old Man was right. Maybe this stuff can rot your brain.

We’ve become social media fanatics.
Quick-minute reels and videos are like click-baits.
They steal our attention; but more, our social feeds can have us locked on different websites for hours upon end.
The funny part about this is it’s called social media. As far as being social, I see this is becoming anti-social because of the lack of true interaction.
These feeds and the scrolling can literally be mindless and I’m guilty too. I’ve watched stupid, random things like people falling down in front of someone who just so happened to be videoing at the time.
I watched the “Karen” arguments.

I was walking up 42nd Street one morning when a fight broke out. One man was being jumped. He was assaulted by two wise-ass, teenage kids. The man was doing alright on his own.
He was doing fine until one of the kids cracked him in the head with a skateboard.
What did the bystanders do?
Mostly, people were watching. No one tried to break this up and yes, there were at least three or maybe four people with their cell phones out recording the assault to send this out into the world’s social media hosts.

I think I like the idea of the Luddite system.
I think I like the idea of reverting back to life before technology took place.
I like it more when we interact instead of everything around us becoming a “point and click” option.

It’s okay if I say this and it makes me sound old. It’s okay if this makes me sound like The Old Man.
Besides, I think I get it now.
I think I understand The Old Man’s point.
My Father might have been tough on me, but I get it now.

While I understand the fascination for good entertainment, still, there is nothing as valuable or as perfect or as healing and meaningful as real life, human interaction.

I believe it was Bobby Fisher whose last words were “nothing is as healing as the human touch.”
I get that now.
I think we take this for granted. Don’t you?
I think we are going in a direction where everything we do or think is dependent upon an app or a mode of technology.

Technology cannot replace this thing I feel.
I know that while there have been some incredible advancements in the world; still, the one thing I know is that no matter how simple technology becomes, I’m still going to need you.
I’m still going to need this thing we have.

I know that when I’m hurting or that when I’m going through life on life’s terms and when my back’s against the wall, my cell phone is not going to tell me, “I got you.”
Technology is not going to push me through to the next round on a job interview.
Perhaps my understanding of technology and how to use it or my computer skills might be a key factor.
But the deciding factor is me. Not my cell phone. Not my computer. Not even my skills because skills can be taught. Lessons can be learned. But spirit and charisma and the true interaction between people is more exhilarating and interesting than how to make a PowerPoint slide for a 4:30 Wednesday presentation. 

It’s funny to me though –
There’s a younger generation and to them I’m the old guy now.
I walked through an office and said hello to a few random people.
They looked at me as if I were about to physically assault them.
Who says hello anymore?
Me, I do.

I remember being young and wondering if it were true that if I were really alone in a sea of billions and wondering if I was alone in my thoughts or feelings because, in all fairness, no one likes to talk about their feelings.
Maybe I was alone or maybe I am alone now.
I remember being so frustrated and thinking, “Doesn’t anybody see this?”
“Can anybody even hear me?”
“Does anybody care???”

Nobody calls anymore.
Everything is texted or emailed.
That’s not for me though.
No, I’d rather talk.
I’d rather have a conversation.
I’d rather have this connection because even if I’m alone, I know that I’ll never be alone because without even saying anything – I know that you’d be there for me, my most special friend. 

When I was a kid . . .
You’d get punished and sent to your room.
These days, kids see that as a reward.

But not me –

I want to go back to the see-saws and the swings and the slides.
I’d rather go back to when the playgrounds were full
The laughter was loud and people were together in real life.

The one most valuable thing I have is this feeling; it’s a vibe and this connection to my memories.
I’ve earned them and I’ve made them. With hopes to collect more, I will keep them with me.
I will build upon this so that on the day of my last breath, I will look back, smile, and say, “Yeah. That was me.”
“I did that!”

I think I’ll start my own Luddite system,
Maybe we can play an old board game together.
Or better yet, maybe we can just talk for a while

no texting allowed.

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