Sunday, September 18, 2011

Time Out!

Balancing On And Off Line Time

The only computer in my life is here at home. No cell, no laptop. When I leave the house, I leave the virtual world behind. I very much like it this way.

I like to balance the cyber and physical worlds. We are adapted to live in the physical world and are just beginning to live in the virtual world. I think people who spend more time on-line and looking at screens, than off-line and out in the physical world, are headed for serious health trouble. Of course we're all headed for serious health trouble sooner or later and everybody's gotta do what they gotta do, but I feel much better when I take extended breaks from virtuality. I’ve recently installed a free computer app that lets me schedule regular breaks when I’m online. Currently I have it set to that every 10 minutes, my screen goes opaque for 30 seconds for a “Time Out”. I use this break to check my posture, maybe get up and stretch, and focus my eyes on something other than the screen. It’s also easy to just skip the break if I’m on a roll or in a hurry. I highly recommend it. (Sorry PC users, it's for Mac only. If anyone knows of a PC version that's similar, please let me know.)

“Virtual means almost but not…”

~A line from a song I wrote called “Virtual”.

If land lines become obsolete someday and I have to get a cell phone, I won’t get a smart phone and I won’t carry a phone with me unless I need it for emergency preparedness, or for some specific reason. I see people all the time who are never off-line, never 100 % focused on their physical surroundings, always with their minds on their cyber identity. They walk down the street looking at their phones, they ride their bikes looking at their phones, they drive looking at their phones. I don’t envy any of them. Not their lives, their bodies, or the look in their eyes. They might still be good people, but I don’t want that life.

I love having extended breaks from my on-line self and world. The more time I spend on-line the more time I need away from it. The way I have it set up now, as soon as I leave my house, I’m off-line and engaged with the physical world. I love being on line too and all the communication, information, and entertainment options it offers, but none of it engages my body in a total way as much as walking does, or riding my bike, or practicing T’ai-Chi, or singing, or teaching, or talking to a friend in person.

I like it best when the virtual world is a like a shadow of the physical world and not the other way around.

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