Decluttering: Presence Over Connectivity
Connectivity is the miracle of the 21st century.
It’s astounding, really.
When I was young, my family moved away from the rest of our relatives in the midwest to “The South”. That was like another country in 1979.
We were barbaric and Neanderthal-like. We communicated with hand-written letters and landline phones where you had to pay extra (in most cases a lot extra) to make something called a "long-distance phone call." Anything outside the area code was going to cost something. We had to think twice about calling Grandma in Michigan. We still use the word “dial” in the context of telephones today, which is weird because most people under 40 have never used a rotary phone. People under 30 may have only seen those contraptions in old movies and antique stores.
We did all of this before etching pictures of animals on the wall of our cave.
Connectivity has come a long way in 40 years.
In 2006 we moved to Central Asia and were able to video call family and friends, with the only real difficulties being time zones and wi-fi speed.
Today, from my home in South Carolina, I can get an immediate opinion from a colleague who is currently working in Thailand — for this month. He will soon be heading back to his home in Eastern Europe, where I can also ping him if I need something. Immediate feedback when necessary.
Social media has created an even more subtle layer of connectivity. I can know the current random feelings of someone I went to High School with (who I haven’t actually talked to in 35 years) and the political opinions of a friend of a friend of my Dad’s (someone I’ve never met).
All expressed in memes.
And I can know all of these things over dinner with my wife, or while watching a soccer game with my son.
I trust you hear the ludicrous irony of what I just said.
Just because we have the ability to be hyper-connected doesn’t mean that we have to be hyper-connected. Or even that we should be.
Get rid of digital clutter.
What is happening around me right now is where I want to engage. Presence is more important than being connected.