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Tags:    Thoughts
michil Saturday, 1 April 2017

Mobile phones turn me off

I could grab it and throw it far. Perhaps I should not be so brusque. I am a quiet and mild type but when a person – be it a colleague, a friend I have not seen for a while – greets me in perfunctory way and then turns to his or her phone to show me a video or a photo or an image, I lose my calm. I know I am getting older or perhaps that it is I am just trying not to give in to this collective change in the way of being I witness. Do not be surprised, but please do not be offended, if the next time round I say “Please don’t show me anything from your phone, but please do tell me about the experience.”
Mobile phones turn me off
The universal application of this behavioral standard seems to me like some sort of electronic antidote to the fear of being alone.
How refreshing it is when I see a person enter in the hotel not having a phone to the ear. What a sense e of calm prevails when one strolls along the corridor without bumping into the latest technological gadget. How nice it is to see a guest at the bar not fixed on some display but chatting to or even looking at a friend or the bar staff. And my joy would be complete if there were no phones featuring prominently on the dining tables – almost I would gift a cake to all those without! Yes, I admit that phones are vital in our modern age but they do create a terrible dependence, and, just like drugs, the benefits are not the only consequence of use. The horrible dependence we are subject to certainly distracts from our interaction with others, our sense of curiosity, and any sensitivity we may have towards other folk. It is important to remember that we are simple mammals and we have the need to connect with others and to look them in the eyes, touch, smell even. I am not at all contrary to social media but when I observe a total lack of discipline in its use I do begin to reflect on things. I look around and I feel more alone than what I actually am. Today the frightening multiplication in use of images to which we humans are subject imposes a restrictive condition: that of looking without seeing. We might think we see but we do not understand all that we see. The universal application of this behavioral standard to me seems like some sort of electronic antidote to the fear of being alone. This is not an attempt at a form of moralism but just an observation on what actually is. Even the Gobi desert appears at a click, but in consequence all seems to be more illusory. We convince ourselves to be present in places and situations which we are actually far from. I am not advocating that we abandon the tools of our life but I would ask to dedicate a thought as to the extent to which we make use of them. I guess i am speaking about knowledge and discretion. I would like to propose that whoever comes on holiday to the Dolomites, or in any other place of UNESCO World Heritage, to appreciate the chance they have to rid themselves of all the pressure accumulated in months of work and to take full advantage to immerse oneself in the beauty which is all around. After all the telephone does not give us spiritual satisfaction but certainly can rob us of aesthetic pleasures. I would never for example change my older than old Nokia for some new age contraption and this not because I want to come across as some fake revolutionary or the typical snob proud of vintage accessories, but because I do believe there is more to life than being fixed to a display: life progresses as the result of people changes glances, looking at each other and exchanging something meaningful. Just like the mountains themselves are a form of therapy. The mountains help us to put things in context and to reflect on life and behavior, yes, even if effort and sweat may be involved the mountains give us a slower and meaningful rhythm away from the constant bombardment of electronic images. I will go as far as to suggest a couple of hours of solitude daily during any holiday period. Solitude is a natural state and we should not fear it. We need not consume our time with virtual images. Solitude is a state and a blessing to cultivate and protect. Zygmunt Bauman spoke of "crowded solitude". Nowadays it seems evermore difficult to tear oneself away andto reflect on things in a calm manner. My attitude is that in solitude there can be something of the sublime in which it is possible to see one’s true self, to scrutise oneself, and to reflect on how one wants to be. A state in which it is possible to create, reflect, dream, lose oneself. Solitude helps ideas come to the surface, to meditate, to give impulse to forms of communication. Solitude is the anticamera of communication between ourselves and others and without which we would be nothing. When you look in the mirror and see nothing then know that that nothing is a trampoline, a ramp to connect you to life and a kite which can connect you to others. Solitude is an essential state for our effective communication and future progress. It is time to switch off the mobile phone, take a walk, appreciate spring arriving as the birds begin to sing their morning song and the snow melts away. Look to the mountains and you will discover summits never recognized before, Dolomite reaches taking shape. Are they not better than Facebook and other false friends. And then we can write about our experience – perhaps by email and not through words on WhatsApp – the latter being something which I do not possess!

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