Tag Archives: silence

Making Time to Disconnect

11 Nov
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Flickr – J. Skorobogatov

I had a weird/scary moment last week. Not scary-bad as much as scary-unusual. While driving, I actually…looked around at my surroundings. When I was stopped at a red light, I people-watched. No Facebook status updates, no Twitter posts, no Instagram feed. Just driving and thinking. Not surprisingly, and as you may have guessed, it took a moment of forgetfulness – leaving my phone at home – for me to actually appreciate the silence and solitude of my drive.

There are plenty of stories online about people who disconnect from the network and how it affects them; my favorite came from Barantude Thurston of Fast Company. Usually the story begins with some anecdotal tales of how their ever-connectedness via social media caused them to lose the ability to engage person-to-person. Next comes the withdrawal symptoms of “fear of missing out (FOMO),” an actual anxiety that has been covered by The New York Times (forgive me if I think this is wholly an ultimate “First World Problem”). Finally, the protagonist realizes that with silence comes inner peace, or something akin to that.

I’ve not felt that FOMO, since I purposely keep my circle small enough to keep in touch as needed. However, I recognize that as I have more accessibility to email, social networks and news on my smart phone, it becomes harder to just put the phone down. I want to be visually and mentally stimulated at all times, and I’m not the only one who sees it as a potential issue. Dating is an area where technology has skewed what is normal and what is not, as described in this article. Children are not engaging in reading as they once were because of increased time looking at screens. The more technology helps, the more it hurts apparently.

I always say that any potential future offspring will likely hate me, because I don’t believe in giving children access to technology just because it exists. The kid that I spend the most time around regularly asks to play games on my tablet and smart phone and 9 times out of 10, the answer is no. Just yesterday, they told me the ultimate worst situation for a kid: “I’m bored.” My response…good. Be bored. Learn how to just sit and think and be still. You’ll appreciate it when you’re an adult and you look back at those hours of free time you had, wondering how you filled a whole day. Now, don’t get me wrong, I provide entertainment in the form of answering any and all questions asked of me, especially if it becomes a learning experience. I’m thinking I should start taking my own advice though, and create learning moments outside my house and an Internet connection.

Do you feel a FOMO? Are you on a technology fast or diet, or do you take one every so often to reconnect to human beings?

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Basking in the golden silence

13 Oct
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Photo via Joel Jefferies on Flickr

When I’m asked, I always like to say that my family is my sister and my mom. Though I have an extended group of aunts, uncles and cousins, when I consider the mental image of family, it’s those two. Because of this, I am wholly unaccustomed to boisterous weekend gatherings of generations of assorted relatives, reliving the “remember when…” stories and having hours lapse before everyone starts to peel away slowly to do it again the following week. While not a solitary creature, I revel in a quiet household where not much needs to be said because it is understood that our shared time is entertainment and company enough.

Over the years in romantic relationships, I’ve learned that the same approach I take to family togetherness works best for paramours as well. I remember in my youth, being in each other’s pockets seemed like the place to be, and God forbid something happen to one of us while the other wasn’t there to simultaneous experience it. Honestly, I’m shocked I wasn’t more exhausted from sustaining these types of dealings.

With age comes wisdom, as well as your own business, which requires you to mind. As I move within my current relationship, I try to keep in mind that while there is an “us,” more importantly there is a “me” and “he.” I have to allow both of us space to decompress, unwind, unpack and reflect without the nagging feeling of “growing apart” and he does the same.

What I see as somewhat of conventional (romantic and non-romantic) relationship wisdom, many others don’t seem to get, if the anecdotal examples from various advice columns imply. Some of my favorites are Dear Prudence on Slate, Carolyn Hax on Washington Post and A Belle in Brooklyn Ask.fm page. Lack of basic communication practice (ask for what you want, be open to compromise, don’t accept less than you’re worth) seems to be at the root of nearly all exchanges for which people are seeking guidance, be it a relationship between mother-daughter, boss-employee, boyfriend-girlfriend or just two people who are exploring the dating scene. Reading the submissions is one of my guiltiest pleasures; people always find a way to reach new level of “Huh?” with each question.

Mind you, in no way am I saying that my communication style is ideal – I can be short of patience, I want people to get to the point quickly and I hate arguing with those closest to me. What I always try to keep in mind is to listen more than I speak, consider all the perspectives, even the ones that aren’t being presented, and that taking 10 seconds before speaking in anger or irritation can save a whole lot of feelings. The more I operate within these kinds of guidelines, the better my relationships work. And the more of that sweet, sweet silence I get to have in my happy household.