2.14.2009

Retreat to the Media-Free Zone

by Melissa Mahfouz
Special to iVoryTowerz

Addictions are enigmas to human behavior. Within this realm of behavior, there exists a wide-ranging spread of addictions; the fun ones (Sudoku, old reruns of Seinfeld), the physically unhealthy ones (Twinkies, Nutella), the truly harmful ones (substance-abuses, drugs), and, of course, the recently developed, 21st century addictions that no psychologist living in Freud's era would have predicted: "social technology." Allow me to elaborate. As I'm typing this blog entry I'm listening to the music via YouTube, while one of my roommates is risking carpal tunnel syndrome due to the rate of her texting abilities, while the other is singing off key to Kanye West's "Love Lockdown," compliments of her iPod Touch.

Truth be told, technology has, and forever will be, a focal and inescapable aspect of daily life. Unless you move to a rural village in the outskirts of an obscure country, which I'm sure is dependent upon technology for its basic infrastructure, the infiltration of technology is ubiquitous. However, despite the myriad of technological developments, that need not be listed, that influence life, the technology I wish to discuss is the innovative social kind, the truly addictive compulsive kind. Facebook. iPods. MP3s. And the list continues. Before I begin any sentence of any paper, I first check my Facebook account. Yes, this can be an incredible waste of time, consisting of rampant so-called "facebook stalking," yet it satisfies the craving we all have, deep down. There's no denying it.

Sooooo... this past weekend I was offered a rare opportunity to participate in a retreat, focused on spirituality, specifically Catholicism. As I experienced a newfound spiritual reinvigoration, what I also realized was the beauty of having a Facebook-iPod-internet-free weekend. Yes, that's right, the beauty of it. No YouTube. No Google. No Shakira. Nothing! Initially I felt daunted by the mere idea of it, yet it kept luring me to the point that I knew I had no choice but to embark on this uncertain journey.

The course of the weekend centered on real, personable communication; something I feel my generation has lost. Life didn't revolve around updating my Facebook status or searching iTunes for the latest release. Those two and a half days were a refuge sent to me to reassess my control, or lack thereof, with technology. I walked around an absolutely beautiful, flourishing surrounding garden, accompanied not by M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" but the natural rhythm of birds chirping, as corny as that may sound.

Conclusively, what I experienced was to enjoy (I'm trying to avoid a cliché), the natural, untainted beauty of life. This weekend enabled me to stop seeing through the keyboard or the iPod dial, but rather through the most overlooked nuances of life, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a newly acquired addiction I hope never to lose.

(The photo collage is by HaPe_Gera via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)












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1 comments:

steve said...

Are we connected or socially disconnected…I personally believe that technology has reduced our social capital—the relationships that bind people together and create a sense of community. Consequences include decreased civility, loss of behavioural boundaries and increased crime. We must find ways to deal with our profound loss of social connectedness.Even though technological advances have contributed significantly to the problem of isolation, the emphasis on individualism in today’s society has compounded it.

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