My second year at Snow I was cast as Dr. Seward in Dracula. During one of the rehearsals my friend Cassy and I got into a conversation about text messages.
It started because there was a break in rehearsal for both of us and we both checked our phones at the same time. Neither of us had a text message.
Cassy made the comment that sometimes she’ll check it even though she didn’t hear anything or feel anything, just in case a message slipped by. I admitted I did the same thing and we laughed about the absurdity.
Even when I had a flip phone I was tied to it. Waiting for it to inform me, or invite me, or tell me I was important. I waited for anything to take my attention.
I have to admit that there are times that my left leg (where my phone sits) will feel phantom vibrations. Subconsciously telling me that it’s been too long since I’ve been notified of something. Something I was missing out on.
So like a good addict I check my phone, mindlessly scrolling through a large amount of information that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. There’s a part of me that understands this. I get that it’s a giant waste of time and there are other things that I should be doing. Knowing doesn’t stop it.
Even though I know it. I haven’t learned it. Real learning changes behavior. The information steeps deep and causes a real change.
I recently listened to Cal Newports newest book Deep Work and he has a whole section on quitting social media. While I’m not quite there yet (still learning) the information did cause me to reflect on a few things.
Through this experience I remembered being sick my freshman year of high school and thinking people were going to notice that I was gone. I mean, I was freshman class president and the understudy in the school play.
When I showed up to school the next day nobody said anything. Nobody cared. Nobody had any idea that I wasn’t there.
It was a tough realization to have. To realize that I'm not as important as I think I am (or want to be).
The Counting Crows lyrics in Have You Seen Me Lately strike a similar and obvious chord.
Have you seen me lately?
I guess I thought that someone would notice
I guess I thought somebody would say something if I was missing
Can’t you see me?
I still think back to this self actualization when I hear this song.
Enough though I live in an age of connection and the internet I haven’t changed. I still struggle with the same ol’ thing but now I’m
I am no longer wondering if others will notice if I’m gone but instead wait for people to read my blog posts, or like my photos. When it doesn’t happen I wonder what’s wrong with me.
Being connected gives me a false sense of importance and feeds my ego. Because I have x followers or can reach x people that means that they want to listen to what I have to say. Not only should they want to listen to what I have to say but they should prioritize the content that I have to provide.
Ironically Teaching also gave me this false sense of importance. Like somehow MY students would change the theatre world because I was a high school drama teacher.
After becoming a teacher I came to the conclusion that teaching is the most selfish selfless job on the planet.
Not because it isn’t a noble and an under appreciated profession. Teachers need to be paid more. Good teachers are worth their weight in gold.
Once in the education system I saw a very egotistical side of education that I had never seen before. Knowledge creates an us and them and that separation provides that same sense of self importance. Knowledge certainly comes before pride.
I am sure there is plenty of ego in everything and it’s only because I am in education that I see my fair share of education martyrs.
That’s a different blog post.
I want to go back to talking about myself (naturally).
I am sure that I made an impact on the students that I taught. Hopefully for the better. I am sure that at some point the content I have provided online has also made a similar impact.
At the same time It’s wrong of me to assume that it was me, that I made the difference. That I changed the life of the other person. I just happened to say something that resonated. They did all the work.
It is easy for my ego to convince me that I am going to make a difference. Especially when I can produce a decent result without much effort, but decent results don’t mean anything unless they can be replicated and reproduced consistently. In order to that I’d have to be really really good.
Social media prevents me from pushing myself to that level of work because it steals my attention. I allow it to take my focus because my reptile brain would rather have the immediate gratification of producing quick mediocre work than the long term success of creating a solid result.
Why should I produce something more if I get the dopamine hit I need from producing less?
“…when I come to die [I don’t want to] discover that I had not lived. I want to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”
I am firm believer that I have the ability to produce great things. But, I never will until I can leave my phone alone and focus.
How has social media gotten in the way of something you wanted to accomplish?