The World is Full of Rings, Dings, Pings, and Beeps…

I was sitting in a restaurant, waiting for my friends and I heard a PING!  I grabbed my purse and pulled out my cell phone.  Nope.  No new message for me.  As I was putting my cell back into the pocket I heard several voices around me say, “Nope, wasn’t my phone.”  I had seen with my own eyes that there had been nothing new on my smart phone.  But…if it wasn’t their phones then….yup, I grabbed my cell again and looked.  Nuthin’.  That got me thinking about how different our society is now thanks(?) to “smart” phones.

Have you ever heard of “classical conditioning” a.k.a. Pavlov’s research with dogs?  Looking around me (and at myself) I see how much we have become like those dogs.  Our phone PINGS and we all grab for our phones.  Commercials on tv that include those text message sounds drive me nuts!  I think it’s my phone and then realize where the sound came from.  How did this happen?

Here is my theory.  When the smart phone first came out it was incredible technology.  The information at your finger tips made us more proficient in our jobs.  We could look up information, share said information, and best of all, we could do this ANYWHERE.  Being capable of doing this at any moment in any place made our lives so much easier…at first.

With such technology in the palm of our hands we were now expected to answer questions immediately.  There was no more leaving a message and saying, “when you get back to the office, can you please send me that info?”  More and more people are now driving and texting.  Why?  There is no such thing as patience.  Everything is about instant gratification.  Everything is needed NOW!  RIGHT NOW!  You can tell people you are driving and they still think they can berate you for not getting them what they want.  This moved on from work to the “fun” stuff as well.  Our phones have become our crutches if we are left waiting somewhere.

Waiting in a restaurant for friends to arrive?  Check out if anything new was posted on Facebook.  There are the gazillion apps so you can play a game.  Doctor’s office?  If you look around you will see the majority of people there are playing on their phones.  If they aren’t, they have given their phones to their kids to play on so that they will behave.  Do you know what used to happen?  Someone would look at you and maybe start talking about the weather or talk about their child’s illness.  There would be this thing called “conversation”.  And there was never any doubt what tone the person was using when they spoke.  Not like text injuries.  You know…the one where you text someone, and you thought you were being smart and funny, and they text back yelling at you because they totally misunderstood your text.  Why?  Text does not do intonation.  I guess that’s why emoticons are used.  Hmmmm, then again, maybe it’s because we have become so lazy in texting that pictures are easier to use.

Ever had this problem?  Your phone has died and you need to call someone.  How do you do it?  You don’t know anyone’s phone number off by heart.  I remember having everyone’s phone number memorized.  Not anymore.

My cell phone pings with texts.  It dings with Facebook and Twitter notifications.  It rings too.  That’s only because Wiseguy prefers to call me instead of texting.  Old school works for us.  We can figure stuff out in seconds rather than texting back and forth.  So, that got me thinking about other sounds that make me react.

My clothes dryer.  I can hear it buzz from anywhere in the house.  No one else does.  But I do.  I have been trained to hear that sound.  My microwave…beep beep beeps when it’s finished rotating and heating my food.  My oven dings 3 times when it has reached my desired temperature.  It dings once when I turn it off.  My car ding ding dings if I leave my lights on or if the keys are in the ignition once I have opened the door.  If you are a pedestrian,  you might have noticed new signal lights at intersections that ding to let you know when you can cross.  When I am grocery shopping, and my items cross over the scanner, each one beeps before being put into my grocery bag.  Those are but a few of the sounds that I am trained on hearing.

It’s true…whenever one of these rings, dings, pings, or beeps sound off I have been trained to react.  Sometimes I love it and oftentimes I hate it.  I hate when I’m otherwise occupied, like watching a movie.  I hear the ping and my body uneasily twitches.  Why?  Because I feel the need to pause my movie and get up and see who has texted me.  One day I decided not to carry my barnacle along with me.   It was liberating!  True, I felt guilty for not responding to my plethora of text messages, but I felt great knowing that I did what I wanted.  I enjoyed my movie.  I didn’t even check my phone afterward.  I waited until the next day.  Crazy?  Maybe.  I also felt…liberated.  I had broken my Pavlovian dog mode and began to decide what I wanted to do and not what my brain had trained me to do.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am addicted to my smart phone.  I try not to pull out my phone when I am waiting somewhere.  I don’t actually talk to people because nowadays people are creeped out when a stranger talks to them.  I WILL say that Wiseguy tried and succeeded in creating a memorable experience by NOT using our cell phones.

We were at a restaurant and Wiseguy and I were discussing something that could have easily been solved by grabbing our cell phones and “Googling” for the answer.  Instead, he asked our server the question.  It became a “conversation”.  A slight debate.  I itched to grab my phone, but no…we waited for our server to come back with an answer.  (It was about colleges and universities in Ontario).  Well, our server came back with the answer.  He admitted he had used his smart phone, BUT….Wiseguy and I did NOT!  We did old-fashioned “question, debate, and final answer” technique.  It felt really good!

This world of ours is full of rings, dings, pings, and beeps, but feel free to unplug sometime.  It’s good to have time for your own thoughts.  It’s good not be “on-call” 24-7.  Take time to enjoy the outdoors without having to take selfies in your environment.  Keep some stuff private so that it feels special just for you.  I love technology and sometimes I regret not taking videos or pictures of events happening around me and then I think how happy I am that I got to see it live and it will live on forever in my memory.  Always vivid…always true…and not documented.  It’s my truth to myself.

P.S.  My phone has not made any noise since I began this article.  The silence is quite deafening, but I think I can used to it.

 

 

 

To Start Anew…

Fall is the season that most poets considered the middle age of life.  Spring is all about renewal. Summer represents the high-falootin’ days of youth.  Winter; cold and miserable…leading to death’s door.  So said the poets of yesteryear.  Well, I am here to claim that any season, of any year of your life, could become your season to begin anew.  I myself decided that I no longer wanted to live dreading each day of my existence.  This is my short tale of how I found the courage to start afresh and find my happier life.  I hope you will find some inspiration from this and get the gumption to laugh at fear and believe in yourself.

Life begins.  You are born.  You grow.  You thrive.  Every person has had different experiences in their youth.  Many have whimsical tales of the atrocities of their youth which become hilarious horror stories to share.  In most cases, they are never as bad as what many others experienced.  We might joke about clothes passed on from elder siblings (yes, I wore my older brother’s clothing).  We tell tales of psychotic parents and the types of punishment they doled out.  Whatever the torture, we survived.  It molded us into the adults we became.  As we moved from childhood to teenage-dom there were undeniably, more challenges.

If you ask any adult now, most will say they were never as bad as the teenagers are now.  Hmmmm.  If you were to actually start thinking about (shall we call them adventures) of your early double digit years, you might find that you were also a thorn in your parents’ side.  High school and the need to belong, finding your own identity, learning, growing.  To make it even more fun, the physical changes from youth to pre-adulthood.  Ugh…I would never want to relieve those days again.  We move along to early adulthood.  Welcome to your twenties!

You are an adult.  You are dreaming big on what you want to do in life.  Oftentimes finding a job meant actually greatly lowering your expectations.  Parents still viewed you as a child.  You had big ideas on your future life.  If you were brave, you followed your dream no matter what anyone said.  If you were trained, like most of the sheep in our society, you did what you were told to do and let life slowly start crushing your rose-coloured world.  It happened to numerous people (myself included) and in many cases it was because older, “wiser” people wanted what was best for you.  They didn’t want you reaching for the stars or dreaming big because they didn’t want you to get hurt.  It was done out of love, but in the end you were miserable.  Misery bred more misery.

You might have married someone thinking:  “This will make things better!”  You jumped from job to job hoping:  “This will be the one!”  This is where many found themselves saying that glorious phrase: “Life got in the way.”  Such a sad little phrase, but many truly believed this.  I myself was one of those for a very long time and then I literally (yes literally) decided that I could take control of my life.

Practice.  Yes, it took practice and EXTREME patience.  I disliked many things going on in my life and I felt trapped.  I had not control.  I pitied myself.  Then I made the conscious effort to STOP the internal, infernal negative voices.  From there, I started focusing on what I call the “silver linings” of life.  No matter how negative things seemed to be in my life, I would find the positive.

EXAMPLE:

NEGATIVE:  Stuck in traffic  /  POSITIVE:  I was listening to an audio book so I would actually be able to hear more.

NEGATIVE:  I got rear-ended / POSITIVE:  I was hit by an honest person who paid for the repairs.

NEGATIVE:  I did what my boss told me to do and was reprimanded later for not following policy /  POSITIVE:  I learned procedure and learned who I could trust and not trust.

These may sound like silly examples, but the fact is that our society is based on sarcasm.  Comedians make fun of people.  Embarrassing people and posting it on Facebook, or YouTube, so that it can go viral, is a new goal.   Gossip at work about who is the most stupid or the ugliest is a favourite past-time.  Even the daily news focuses on the negative.  You can break free!  How?

One day, I decided that, although in the Fall of my life, I could start anew.  I could find a place that would make me happy.  Best of all, I whole-heartedly believed it.  With my whole body and soul I trusted it would happen.  Did it work?  You betcha!!

It is the place where I work now.  Timeline:  from online resume to interview to second interview to job acceptance was one week.  My new job has people who are supportive and friendly.  Yes, the job is hectic and fast-paced, but I feel alive and grateful.

Moral of the story:

  •  Don’t be afraid to start anew.  So many famous people started new careers in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond (helloooo KFC…Colonel Sanders)
  • Believe in yourself.  You have lived your life and learned many things.
  • Let go!  Sometimes not fretting is all it takes to make everything better.