I should have written this at Christmas, but I guess New Year’s is as good a time as any.
I have been thinking lately about the world and my place in it. I have often felt like I am missing something. Missing a piece of myself, that I used to have.
I’ve had a few discussions in the past few months with friends about the way the world is. How we, the whole world, abuse and misuse technology. We have a plethora of knowledge at our fingertips; we have the ability to make global contact in a way that was never possible before. And we use it to focus on ourselves.
13-year-olds have $600 iPhones that they want a new model of the next year. They are obsessed with the number of likes they can get on their latest selfie. The number of friends on their Facebook page is drastically exaggerated from the number of people they actually spend face-to-face time with. Followers become more important than real life companions. The vast majority of people are spoiled by the ease of technology and unappreciative of the tangible things in our lives.
I remember one of my fondest Christmas memories. It was waking up and walking into the living room, where the lights of the tree lit up the room in that classic Christmas rainbow, to see the wall lined with plastic snow sleds for each of my six siblings. They couldn’t have cost my parents more than $20 a piece, tops – and yet they remain one of my favorite gifts. The magic of seeing those sleds, of sharing those memories with my siblings, cannot be compared to any self-obsessing gadget today. Those were gifts which encouraged sharing memories with others. Now, we give gifts that encourage isolation.
The year I got my computer was a really big deal for me, and my family. With so many siblings, each year only one of us would get THE “big gift” of the year, and we never knew who it was going to be. It was always saved for last. All morning, we were opening gifts and I had no idea that the giant box in the corner was for me – I didn’t even look to see who it was for. And when it came to the end and my parents told me to open it, I could not have been more appreciative. It wasn’t just a computer. It was the gift of privacy – something that, with six siblings, I knew to be a precious commodity. It was the gift of love – I knew that computer could not have come cheap and my family was not made of money. I was gifted the ability to come into my own through this piece of technology that was my very own, and no one elses. This clunky piece of metal and plastic that would be frowned at by kids now-a-days.
I was given the gift of being able to tap into my writing, late at night when I couldn’t sleep (which was often). No longer did I have to wait until morning, because the family computer was in my parents room where they were sleeping. Now, I could turn on music, in the privacy of my room, and write until my eyes were stinging from the blue glow of the screen. Then I would crawl into bed and fall asleep, satisfied at what I had just created. I was given the gift to communicate with my best friend, who lived in Canada (this was long, long before I owned a cell phone). And you know what? I loved that thing to death. Literally. I loved it and lugged it through every move until it just wouldn’t turn on anymore. It was a source of knowledge, of creativity, of making friendships with people overseas that are still in my life today. For maybe eight years, or more, that computer was my everything, in a very positive way. I only had social media for the last year of its life, before social media blew up into the monster it is now. So I never associated that computer with all the garbage there is today. It was creativity and privacy and mine.
Unfortunately for the laptop I own now, faithful companion that it is, I have been unappreciative. It is a thing of distraction, of mindless internet browsing. I love a good cat video as much as the next person, but the number of creative documents I have written on this computer pales drastically in comparison to my first computer. I abuse and misuse my laptop now. I can access the internet on my phone, I work on a desktop all day at work, so I hardly touch my own computer anymore.
But that is something I want to change. I want to make a difference, and not just in my own life, but in others. I need to find my own inspiration again so I can inspire others. The internet, for all of its faults, holds a vast world of inspiration from other people just like me – people I connected with on my first computer, all those years ago.
I am not a doctor or a scientist – I cannot cure disease or save lives. But I am an artist. I can inspire, which can remind people that there are things worth living for.
I believe in love and beauty, and I can share that. I want to share that.