Leaving Everywhereness

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!

17 thoughts on “Leaving Everywhereness

  1. i forgot to bring my iPhone with me to work yesterday and, while i usually don’t get any calls while i’m working, i was still quite peeved at myself for leaving it behind, like forgetting my wallet or not taking my vitamins – however, even though i missed the convenience of “Googling” topics that came up in conversation throughout the day, i eventually realized that i had temporarily escaped its ubiquitous thrall … and survived! indeed, Djwhal Khul the Tibetan master (Ponder On This by Alice Bailey) said: “The soul that cannot stand alone has naught to give…”

  2. I’m doing a workshop on joy this week, including a portion on being in the moment…the here and now. I’m going to tell them of your reference to our right to shut off the ‘everywhereness’, the ‘everythingness’ — and challenge them to do the same!

  3. I really like this post. I have been really working on limiting my internet time, and it is so liberating! Time moves more slowly, I get more accomplished, I am more mindful, and I enjoy the little things in life even more. We all need to set our own boundaries so we don’t waste our lives looking at our screens. Thanks for sharing this reminder. :-)

  4. thanks – that’s where i got the quote at the bottom of my emails: “At the center of a great tornado is a point of peace… And [so] it is with all the storms of life. They lead to peace if you are not a leaf.” (but i changed “thus” to “so” because “thus” sounded so archaic… it’s really a wonderful book – Ponder On This… :)

  5. Be Here Now.
    Whoever said it, it’s the instruction and the challenge.
    Multi-tasking increases exponentially, as you point out so effectively. A very spiritual woman once gave this simple instruction: Do one thing at a time. It’s amazing how difficult that is.

  6. I think my phone is off more than it is on. :-) I like having certain parts of the day to myself and I don’t like being 100% accessible all the time. We lived without constant communication before and I think it made us far more patient.

  7. “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” So true!!!!! Last weekend I read an article about the slow computer / IT movement, along similar lines to the slow food movement and they were saying pretty much what you have here. The idea of slowing down, even shutting off does really appeal to me, but like many I find it very hard. But I keep trying.

    1. I would LOVE to see that article! I keep working towards it, too, but it does prove difficult. So much of how we communicate and interact in this world is based on technology now…how do you disconnect, not only from work but from the technology community we’ve created?

  8. Since I do not have a fancy phone, cannot take photos or get on the Internet with it, I must be at a computer of some sort to get on the Internet. It is, perhaps, a blessing.

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