Pay Attention, Class!

I really am surprised by people who don’t understand or can’t agree that I reduced my Facebook check-ins to one a week, no more than an hour. In truth, I have limited them to less than a half hour and the only new entries are usually this blog which automatically is put on Facebook.

My reason is rather simple: I found myself spending far too much time sending or receiving information over social media, Facebook the prime culprit. And I was determined to pay attention to other things–like writing a book, staying in touch with family by phone or in person, looking at the tree changing color outside my window, etc., etc., etc.

And after a few weeks, I really don’t miss Facebook. I haven’t eliminated other things, like my cell phone, but I have cut back on texting. I don’t use Twitter these days either.

How do I feel? Much more centered and certainly more attentive to the world around me. Yesterday I saw the orange and red leaves on the tree outside my window and heard the cardinal. Usually at this time I would be checking Facebook.

Don’t get me wrong. I know social media have some great benefits for staying in touch with family and friends and even aiding in the overthrow of despots. But there is a darker side to this newer technology. We are losing the ability to think longer and more deeply, expecting quick answers or ones we find on Google. We don’t write long hand or keep journals; we send emails or Facebook messages out, thinking these are the only forms of communications. We are moving toward teaching courses online, with students never actually being in the same room.

An ancient story comes to mind. The Buddha was on the road, when he was approached by a man who asked him if he was a God. He said he wasn’t. Are you a prophet, then? No, the Buddha replied. Then what are you? “I am awake,” the Buddha replied.

Pay attention. What you pay attention to over time shapes who you are. And you do have choices. That’s the good news.

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Filed under education, Ethics, Spirituality, wisdom

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