Monday, 5 May 2014

Look Up as Much as Down

My friends laugh at my lack of technological mores... I only turned to a laptop when my bulky behemoth of a PC exploded (yes really); I got the Internet at home about five years after everyone else; and I still don’t have a smartphone (just a £12 handset that does two things: calls and texts. Because that’s all I need it to do. Really).

It took a lot of convincing to get me on Facebook, and even more to set up this here blog. I like my photos to be printed so I can flick through them, old-skool stylee, in an actual album, though I do upload them onto my laptop (but only so I can change the wallpaper when it takes my fancy!). I like my music on CDs, though when the Walkman (yes, really) packed up several years ago, I had no choice but to invest in an MP3 player, so now I download tracks...but never albums, because that’s what CDs are for. And I can play them in the car, hah! (I do know that you can attach iphones etc to car stereos...I just don’t want to.) And don’t even get me started on ebooks...! You can guess what my personal preference is – but I do accept that we can’t stop the technological evolution!

As you can see, I dip in and out of today’s technological life as and when it suits me – and earlier today I almost didn’t look up. I almost didn’t stop scrolling. Statuses spooled and spooled up the screen, my eyes scanning for the ‘why’ – the why I’ll stop and read; why I’ll give someone my time. I almost didn’t take the second to click the link to read a particular shared status. I almost didn’t listen.

But I did. I listened to and loved Look Up by Gary Turk (click to listen or scroll down to read my transcription – because I can’t be without actual text, me!).

When I heard this, I heard Gary Turk telling us to find balance. To me, he isn’t telling us to ignore the technological world, he’s telling us not to be a slave to it. He’s telling us to live a real-time, real life. Now get out there and live it. I am.

Look Up - by Gary Turk 

I have four-hundred-and-twenty-two friends, yet I am lonely. I speak to all of them every day, yet none of them really know me.

The problem I have sits in the spaces between looking into their eyes or at a name on a screen. I took a step back and opened my eyes; I looked around and realised the media we call social is anything but.

When we open our computers, and it's our doors we shut. All this technology we have it's just an illusion. Community companionship, a sense of inclusion yet, when you step away from this device of delusion, you awaken to see a world of confusion.

A world where we're slaves to the technology we mastered, where information gets sold by some rich greedy bastard. A world of self interest, self image, self promotion. Where we all share our best bits but...leave out the emotion.

We’re at our most with an experience we share, but is it the same if no one is there? Be there for your friends and they'll be there too, but no one will be if a group message will do.

We edit and exaggerate, crave adulation. We pretend not to notice the social isolation. We put our words into order and tint our lives a-glistening. We don't even know if anyone is listening!

Being alone isn't a problem, let me just emphasize: if you read a book, paint a picture, or do some exercise, you're being productive and present, not reserved and recluse. You're being awake and attentive and putting your time to good use.

So when you're in public, and you start to feel alone, put your hands behind your head, step away from the phone! You don't need to stare at your menu, or at your contact list. Just talk to one another, learn to coexist.

I can't stand to hear the silence of a busy commuter train when no one wants to talk for the fear of looking insane. We're becoming unsocial, it no longer satisfies to engage with one another, and look into someone's eyes. We're surrounded by children who, since they were born, have watched us living like robots, who think it's the norm.

It's not very likely you'll make world’s greatest dad if you can't entertain a child without using an iPad. When I was a child, I'd never be home. Be out with my friends, on our bikes we'd roam. I'd wear holes on my trainers, and graze up my knees. We'd build our own clubhouse, high up in the trees.

Now the parks are so quiet, it gives me a chill. See no children outside and the swings hanging still. There’s no skipping, no hopscotch, no church and no steeple. We're a generation of idiots, smart phones and dumb people.

So look up from your phone, shut down the display. Take in your surroundings, make the most of today. Just one real connection is all it can take, to show you the difference that being there can make.

Be there in the moment, when she gives you the look that you remember forever as 'when love overtook'. The time she first held your hand, or first kissed your lips, the time you first disagreed and still love her to bits.

The time you don't have to tell hundreds of what you've just done, because you want to share this moment with just this one. The time you sell you sell your computer, so you can buy a ring for the girl of your dreams, who is now the real thing.

The time you want to start a family, and the moment when you first hold your little girl, and get to love again. The time she keeps you up at night, and all you want is rest. And the time you wipe away the tears as your baby flees the nest.

The time your baby girl returns, with a boy for you to hold, and the time he calls you granddad and makes you feel real old. The time you've taken all you've made, just by giving life attention. And how you're glad you didn't waste it, by looking down at some invention.

The time you hold your wife's hand, sit down beside her bed, you tell her that you love her and lay a kiss upon her head. She then whispers to you quietly as her heart gives a final beat, that she's lucky she got stopped by that lost boy in the street.

But none of these times ever happened: you never had any of this. When you're too busy looking down, you don't see the chances you miss.

So look up from your phone, shut down those displays: we have a finite existence, a set number of days. Don't waste your life getting caught in the Net, because when the end comes there's nothing worse than regret. I'm guilty too of being part of this machine, this digital world, where we are here but not seen.

Where we type as we talk, and we read as we chat. Where we spend hours together without making eye-contact. So don't give into a life where you follow the hype. Give people your love, don't give them your 'like'. Disconnect from the need to be heard and defined; go out into the world leave distractions behind.

Look up from your phone. Shut down that display. Stop watching this video. Live life the real way. 

~ ttfn ~


  1. Ha ha great find, so right too, it's about balance. Finding how to mix both on and off line. I love gadgets and technology as you know, but still love the smell of a new book, or sitting up the garden to read - a book I must add - I leave the puter inside and yes I'll take my phone but needs must with me and my wobbly legs!! I mix technology with my life I know I do and without it my life would be much more isolated but it doesn't take the place of our coffee/cake meet ups or buying books and sharing them, nor does it replace going to football. For me personally it adds to my life but I know there are some who allow it to become it all. Can't imagine sitting in a room with my boy and only texting him. We still talk actual words not typed ones! Lol Take care Zo xx

  2. My problem is when I write. I look down at my keyboard and the words flow. I tend to shut everybody and everything out and before I know what I'm doing two, three or even four hours have gone by without me even realising it.
    Technology though is something that I wish wasn't here but gives me a form of shall I say masochistic fascination. When I conquer it I'm delighted, when I can't get my head around it it goes flying across the room. Anyway it ain't going away so I guess I'll have to live with it.
    Him next doorx


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