Life for Beginners Stories by Kenny Mah

How to disconnect and not lose your friends

by Kenny Mah

Getting offline is not the end of the world.

This is what I’ve been telling myself of late as I try to reclaim more time for myself and the ones I care for. Putting aside the hours during which we work, sleep and eat, much of what is left over isn’t available for play, rest or quality engagement (such as interesting conversations with someone who is sitting in front of you about any topic under the sun, coupled with actual eye contact and the absence of incessant smartphone usage).

Instead we are surfing, answering emails or Facebook-ing. (How horrifying is it that “facebooking” is now practically a verb, not unlike googling?)

Why are we online so much? Why are we so addicted to social networks and being “connected”? Is it a fear of missing out? But what are we missing out on — countless inane status updates or the umpteenth picture (from yet another angle) of a friend’s rush-hour lunch?

If this were true, then my real fear wouldn’t be missing out; rather it’d be not missing out. This is not how I want to spend my most precious, non-renewable resource (hint: it’s not gasoline or cash).

If I want to know how you are doing, I will call you up or drop by your home and ask you. I will bring some food, maybe, and we will share it. Or we will head out to a nice restaurant and enjoy a good meal. I will know exactly how beautifully prepared (or not) your dish is because I can see it. I will know if it’s truly delicious because I will ask for a bite (and offer you some of mine too).

When I say thank you for spending time with me, I will mean it and show it by patting you on your shoulder, or hugging you, or giving you a kiss, or all of the above. Sure, I might smell or you might be sweaty, but we are touching each other and happy we are friends and not worrying about being “disconnected” because we are not online.

We will be living, not merely alive and “online” (whatever that means).

Hmm. Doesn’t seem so bad after all, does it?

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