Small people climbing beneath crumpled sheets;
Weetbix laden accounts; wriggly bottoms on seats;
Squinting through golden rays, hanging washed clothes;
Coffee meetings, meaningful ideas to propose;
The rushed overdue email, work to oversee;
A kiss required for a barely scraped knee;
Sandpits squeals and castles created;
Kitchen madness as dinner’s anticipated;
Bath bubbles, minty breath, stories by shadowy light;
Warm chats with friends, a summer night;
It corners me, demands me, tempts my doubting
Awake or asleep, it stays close; shouting
This noisy otherworld:
despite my efforts to turn away
Follows me, instep, along my way;
Or instead: (with a sad sigh of dismay)
Is it I who follows day-to-day?
This noise reaches the depths of longing
With the addiction of false belonging
Not with pain, or force, or attraction
But with this powerful Drug of Distraction.
This new currency that
With the full force of a half-lived half-numbed, ‘connected’ life.
Of instagrammable beauty, impatient emails and Must Watch series
Of trending tweets, social echo chambers, unlimited knowledge and theories;
ever so silently
earth and heavens’ take-your-breath-away moments on offer
Are replaced with a neatly packaged dopamine hit…
From your phone.
*A little bit of background:
I have been reflecting lately on my own addiction to technology, and have been listening to some powerful podcasts on the effects of this constant distraction to the human spirit. I remember a time where I could happily ponder or write or read for hours without a thought to technology. But gradually, it feels as if my very ability to be present to myself and whatever is happening around me – to enjoy a moment in time, a lazy read, a slice of solitude, a magnificent sunset, a connection with another – is slowly eroding. I feel a twinge often, to record and share, rather than savour, and it makes me tired. In his book Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport writes that ‘Simply put, humans are not wired to be constantly wired’, and I find myself nodding aggressively in agreeance with this. Watching my children, who are growing up in an era where digital connection distraction is the norm, is driving me to learn to model a life that is cautiously balanced, full of tangible face-to-face connection, and brimming with the gift of presence to each other and the world around us. I wrote this poem as a reminder; a warning to myself when I feel the temptation to ‘check out’ of the beautiful ordinariness of real life to “connect” with this noisy but often pointless other world.