There’s a commercial on television for Facebook’s new mobile feature that shows a woman visiting a museum. Her cell phone beeps and the photo she receives replaces the framed Birth of Venus in front of her. It beeps again, and the statue she walks by turns into a replica of her friend. When it beeps a third time, she gets an instant message, which a museum guard repeats to her, “Us girls are going dancing tonight, U in?”
The message is the same as the commercial showing a family on a camping trip zipped up inside their tent staring at their iPad — why be present when you can be somewhere else?
My recent series of posts was titled “Great Cape Escape,” but did I really escape? It didn’t matter that the hotel’s wi-fi only worked if I was sitting with my laptop on the bathroom floor, my iPhone with its “everywhereness” allowed me instant access to everything and everyone — 200 miles from home, 5 miles down the beach or 3 miles out into the ocean.
It turns out, being present — being here, in this moment — takes even more effort now than it did when Buddha suggested we “concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
Our present moment now includes everyone else’s present moments that are broadcast on Facebook and emails and blogs and websites and Twitter tweets.
Our present moment now includes these multifunctional devices that serve as our phone, camera, clock, message machine, compass, book, entertainment console, umbilical cord. Like Medusa, it’s hard to look away.
It takes mindfulness to disconnect from that everywhereness, that everythingness — you know as well as I do how seductive it is. But as we move forward, as our technology feeds our technology, we have to learn to set boundaries.
They like to tell say you have a right to everywhereness. But you also have a right to shut it off, to look up from the tiny little screens and see the big picture — right now, this moment. Go!