The television series, Black Mirror has a synopsis that’s summed up as “a sci-fi anthology that shows the dark side of life and technology”. I strongly recommend that you binge watch the six episodes available on Netflix. Go ahead, this post will be here when you return. There are a few takeaways from the show. One takeaway is the classic sci-fi moral, “just because we can doesn’t mean that we should”. The more important lesson (IMO) is that we must be careful not to allow tech to deplete our sense of compassion and our basic instincts. (If you saw someone stumbling drunk, would you pull them away from the busy street or would you pull out your phone to film it? Listen to your instinct for compassion. While no one will admit to it in a hypothetical, you’d be surprised how many would film the stumbler.)
What if there was not an app for that? What if Siri’s response was, “figure that shit out, Bro!” The last thing I want to do is vilify tech. I live near the tech capital of the country. I love that I can send some cash to my friend for last night’s drinks and respond to a text with an archived dick pic while standing in line at Trader Joe’s. I love technology. But, there’s a saying, for every one problem tech solves, it creates ten more (some technical, some moral). How many times have you wanted to go Office Space on the printer at your job after sending the same print job to it several times.
Technology is great; when it works the way it’s designed to work. When tech goes rogue or fails in some way, we have to ditch the calculator and reach for ye olde abacus. What I’ve noticed is that people have developed this false sense of security that there will always be some form of tech at their disposal to do their thinking for them. “WhyTF would I ever need to learn long division when there’s a calculator on my phone?” You’re right; your phone will never fail you and will always be made available to you. “WhyTF would I need to learn how to use a skin fold caliper when they just created a cool app that allows me to check body fat percentage with my camera phone?” You’re right; a camera phone will accurately measure body fat percentage every time. “WhyTF would I need to learn how to find north/east/south/west directions when my phone has GPS?” You’re right; Apple maps will never send you the wrong way. Something I’ve observed more often than not is that no one believes they’ll ever need to learn their way round due to the constant crutch of GPS. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “I don’t know north from west.” “I have no sense of direction.” “I can’t learn north/east/south/west, that means nothing to me.” WTF? How many of your friends have said a similar statement to you? Have you said it? *Judgment Alert* There is something wrong with a refusal to learn something that could help you or those around you. I want to be clear, I’m not judging anyone for what they don’t know. I’m judging those who refuse to learn something new.
You’ve all heard the cliché that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Well, sometimes there’s no GPS or cell reception outside of your comfort zone. Don’t believe me? Take some more road trips that involve dirt roads through towns with low populations. One fallen street sign + no GPS + one flat tire = you and your instincts. Unless you’ve got one of those magical satellite phones like they have in the espionage flicks, no app will help you. I want to challenge you to develop that beautiful brain of yours.
Challenge #1: Stop saying what you can’t learn. “I’ve tried, I just can’t learn directions.” You can learn anything that matters to you. Make this matter to you before broken GPS forces it to matter to you.
Challenge #2: Acknowledge your direction at any given point in your commute. The next time you’re walking towards the sun in the morning, greet the sun with a salutation and tell yourself that you’re walking east. If it’s in the afternoon, the sun will be in the west preparing to set.
Challenge #3: Go out on a familiar (hiking/walking/running) trail and afterwards try to draw a map from memory. If you have a little crumb snatcher, bring them along and ask them to help. We all know that kids have great memories, we could learn from their passion for learning new things.
Your inspiration for the week can only come from your reflection. Get in the mirror and have that conversation with yourself about becoming a better version of yourself. I’ve written about memory before, now I’m talking about instincts. Vision is responsible for 70% of our sensory input.
Challenge #4: Sit down in a public place, close your eyes, and take mental notes of your surroundings. How much does that person weigh with those heavy footsteps? (You can guess, don’t try to confirm.) Which person was wearing the heavy cologne and how would you describe the scent? Rub your fingers across the place you’ve chosen to rest; what does your seat feel like? Does your food taste differently when you taste something for the first time with eyes closed?
Common sense is an uncommon thing. The smarter our devices have become, the dumber we are as humans.
Here’s a list of smart gadgets that should have stayed dumb. Tech and apps are designed to make our lives easier, simpler, and some would argue faster. Congratulations, you can now perform multiple tasks poorly as opposed to performing one task well (aka multitasking). Lao Tzu has been credited with the quote “nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” I’m not suggesting that we all slow down, but we could learn something from that sage statement. I know that the world keeps spinning. I’m just suggesting that we reconnect with our instincts (not judgment, not assumption, instincts) on a regular basis lest they fade away indefinitely.
Many of you have been asking me how it was to go skydiving a second time or which time was better. For those that know me, you know that I don’t get in the habit of ranking experiences in my life. Spider-Man and Wolverine are different from one another; one is not better than the other. The same can be said for apples & oranges, French Bulldogs & Pit Bulls, Jill Scott & Erykah Badu, Batman & Superman, you get the idea. Skydiving in 2002 & 2015 were very different experiences. The first time was exhilarating. The second time was tranquil. That had more to do with where I am in my life than the height of the jump or amount of time spent in free-fall. I could spend 1,200 more words describing the experience. But, you should have your own jump experience (if the idea appeals to you, it ain’t for everybody). The fastest way to trivialize your daily gripes on the ground is to fly through the air at 120+ mph (terminal velocity). When you land back on the ground a lot of the small shit down here no longer matters. Here are some screen shots.