We live for the Internet. When is the last time you left the house without access? When email is down, connections are slow, or you simply can’t find your devices it’s worse than North Korea hacking into your Internet browsing history and sharing it with the world . In the age of instant gratification we have lost ourselves and it’s slowly killing each and every one of us—from the outside in.
Digital connectivity was supposed to make life more convenient, relieve stress, save time and above all else, streamline our personal and professional lives so we could be anywhere, anytime and still manage an ever growing list of responsibilities. Instead, 24/7 access has stripped us of our ability to connect and communicate with one another. We now live in a world that never shuts down, over-communicates, stresses us out and has essentially over stimulated us to the point that we are numb to what’s happening right in front of our eyes.
In 1952, the year my father was born, life was much simpler. My grandparents read the paper every morning and relied on the local news media to share what was important and relevant in the world. The lens was much smaller, but what they didn’t know didn’t scare them. They took fashion cues from the movies and the department stores. What they knew about sports was because they played them or saw them in real life, not because of what they saw on television. Life post-World War II felt good. They were thankful for everything they had and everyone they knew. Kindness existed and wasn’t forced. They were polite and proper. They knew how to be people.
Fast-forward 62 years.
New York isn’t the only city that doesn’t sleep—7 billion people on Earth never really shut down. We check our email before we go to sleep and we check it as soon as we wake up. We dream about reality and watch it on TV, but rarely live in it. We have Facebook to connect to our “friends”, Pinterest to tell us what’s popular (and to make us feel like absolute failures) and text messaging to replace actual conversations (it takes too much time to talk). Resumes are out, LinkedIn is, well, in.
There no longer is a sense of urgency to get home to watch your live TV and no need to plan get-togethers with your friends to indulge in the latest happenings on your favorite show, thanks to Netflix, Hulu and the network websites.
The human connection is absent. Sadly. Even worse is that many are adapting to the idea of not being bothered by emotional connectivity. After all, it’s much easier to tack on a smiley face to your message than it is to actually smile.
In the coming New Year, instead of making a senseless resolution to reinvent
yourself by clogging up the local gyms, annoying everyone you know with your fad dieting—reinvent yourself by reengaging with the world around you.
Host a weekly party at your home to watch your favorite TV show, write a letter to a long lost friend instead of tagging them in a post on Facebook, and create your own beautiful trinkets and decor using your imagination instead of relying on Pinterest to do the work for you. Make an attempt to connect with the beautiful world around you. In the fast paced world we live in, we have to preserve the essence of what makes us human—and what makes us unique.
Now go plan your Superbowl party, your Oscar’s gala and call your grandparents. And forget about the Internet (at least for five minutes)—it’ll be there when you get back, promise.
Jason Ensign is an Account Supervisor at Piston, an advertising agency headquartered in San Diego and NYC.