This is a guest post by Bruce Aristeo.
It was late, and after a long day I stretched out my arms, took a deep breath, and let out a huge sigh. My hands reached out and I began clicking, swiping, and typing as my shoulders curled inward around my chest as if humped over in pain.
My eyes were focusing and scanning the screen, my receptors acting as the light on a copy machine, pin-pointing each pixel and assigning the meaning to each symbol creating structure to what I was seeing.
My TweetDeck was doing its usual fly-by, email accounts were reaching out to their respective servers, Facebook Page was at a standstill while deals were secretly being made in the chat area, and my brain was on stimulus overload from subconsciously keeping track of it all.
No television or iTunes music to breakup the live feed chatter streaming into my mind, only this continued dull hum that my defense mechanism creates to keep me sane.
Breaking The Silence of Social Media
Damn, I forgot to check my Google+ account, I was interested in huddling with a new friend and forgot the time.
Exhausted, my graphic designs began to look as if tie-dye was making a comeback from the sixties, loud and no sharp edges, so it was time to take a short break anyway. I opened my Google+ account and clicked through the various areas looking for something to break the deafening silence of watching social media.
A post… Danny Brown? Wow, I forgot he was in one of my circles. Even visiting Danny’s blog on occasion didn’t break the armor piercing rounds of my focus.
You’d think that reading a great story would stop the world, if only for a moment, but each story only enforced the realization of how much time was passing; the visits became fewer as the weeks slid by. My visit to Danny’s articles were long over due, so I stopped to read this post, a chance to smell the roses –so to speak.
A Musical Rose Garden
Huh! Nothing to read, only this posting of a video and a small blip, “Loving this version of ‘Livin’ on a Prayer” from Desmond Child, the guy that co-wrote it with Bon Jovi. Very soulful.”
Okay, I know the song; I grew up in Philly and live in New Jersey. Keep in mind that Social Media was still racing, running, streaming and posting with one eye on the accounts and the other on Danny’s post. I know, …not exactly the full attention I should be giving another human, let alone the artistic expression embedded with a “play” button.
I clicked the play button and the music began, …slowly, …a familiarity to the original yet different. My mind stopped to synchronize my recollection of the original version to this new version. Matching beat, tempo, breaks in the lyrics, but I’m analyzing and still not really free to enjoy the music.
The Shift in Reality
Visually, I broke from the video 30 seconds in, scanning other posts.
Something changed, a shift …not what I was looking at, but how I was looking. I was reading and not scanning posts, each one in fact. The music slowed down all my inputs.
Vision, hearing, movement, and thought were as if warped by Star Trek’s “Q” and the Space Time Continuum. I guess I just dated myself…
I began thinking about the speed at which social media moves, and I correlated it with my studies in child psychology.
It’s interesting that my mind and reactions slowed to the tempo of the music.
Reading the posts became something that happened without intention. It was as if walking through a garden, not intending to smell the roses, but they were there and I happen to think of smelling them.
Stimulation: 10 Second Countdown
Studying child psychology was enjoyable because there were answers to that which gave reason to rhyme.
One such study described how television shows, such as Sesame Street and The Electric Company were delivering a 10 second lesson, meaning the child watching would learn something new every 10 seconds. That philosophy gave rise to the theory that children are being conditioned with over stimulation, thus causing attention spans to decrease.
Being a teacher (K-12), I can attest to how much teachers have to add into lesson plans to maintain student attention.
Listen + Communicate = Intimacy
Now, back to us adults. What are we doing to ourselves by over stimulating our senses with the speed of social media? Are we destroying our ability to sit and listen to another Being by conditioning ourselves with communication void of intimacy?
Our children find text messaging each other while in the same room, sometimes next to each other, is more appropriate than speaking.
Intimacy, the bedrock of communication and the factor dividing us from other animals, is not something transmitted through text, email, Tweets, or Huddles. Intimacy is offered from within each of us, as a means to authentically connect and touch one another with the intention of personal growth.
Some might say that intimacy was part of my social media experience. This is true, but was it Danny’s intention to deliver his personal experience in the link? Only he could answer what his intention was, but my experience came from within. I was only reminded of that place of slowing down, …my personal rose garden.
Giving Thanks and Slowing Down
My engagement with Danny, I couldn’t thank him enough for being in the right place at the right time. Although my message of thanks to Danny was brief, I could not verbalize the shift that occurred within me. Danny’s post reminded me of slowing down, taking a breath, and truly seeing and being in the moment.
Of course you hear “Stop and smell the roses” everyday, but do you ever feel it? I did…
As I part from this experience in social media, and I walk away from the roses, I will always keep that particular garden in mind.
The one I walked through when I was exhausted, and the feeling I experienced when stopping to smell the roses…
About the author: Bruce Aristeo is an artist, entrepreneur, and a lecturer/teacher of mathematics and psychology. In the spirit of North American Indians, he is a Magician and co-creates the world around him. You can read more from Bruce at AB2BC.Net, or connect with him on Google+ and Facebook.
image: Adventures in Librarianship