Everyone is busy. I’m no exception—I work more than full time, have a freelancing career, and am planning a wedding. We spend most of our time at work, and that takes time away from our other responsibilities. We have to pay our bills, keep our homes clean, feed ourselves and our families, maintain a vehicle/public transportation – the list goes on. It’s never been easy to keep up with dozens of things at a time, even with technology. So, where do we draw the line between helpful and invasive?
For most of our time as a species, humanity has had one final respite from responsibility and interaction—relieving ourselves. Being alone (or just politely ignored) during this time kept us from our need to be engaged and brought simplicity back to our thoughts. We have this one last true refuge and it’s under constant assault. Let me say this plainly – stop bringing your phone with you when you poop.
The bathroom-phone conundrum isn’t merely unhygienic. I don’t have to remind you that your phone is disgusting. The allure is undeniable, especially for the extremely busy. Spending idle time filling our brains with factoids, attaining new high scores, and bickering on Twitter seems reasonable enough in such a modern time as ours. But I submit to you that this perhaps is stymying out cultural growth and intellectual pursuits. Now that we have infinite information, we have no need to stimulate ourselves. We can carve out niches and “feeds” for ourselves that are relevant to us and only reinforce our own beliefs. If we can’t expand our consciousness beyond these places we build, we’ll see the continued denigration of public discourse, politics, and cultural life.
I don’t want to have an easy way to look at how much time I spend on my phone in a given day because it’s a truth I’m not ready to accept. Technology gives us the ability to be able to do anything, anywhere, from shopping in a meeting to answering emails from the toilet, and it makes us feel like we have to do everything, all the time.
We miss things that exist in our own heads when we do this. What time do we afford for free thought? When do we let our minds wander? When do we free our creativity? When do we stop to let ourselves simply be?
For many of us, time is condensed into chunks and stuffed full with tasks until the end of the day. The leisure activities of choice for many Americans seem to include TV watching, gaming, and surfing their way into various internet rabbit holes. While none of these things are terrible on their own, we have to balance the influx of media with independence from it. This will only take a few minutes at a time but it won’t take much to realize what you were missing.
So have a seat. Stare at the door or your towels and really think. Don’t text or tweet or snap. Keep Candy Crush closed. Think about what you’ve read that day, who you spoke to, how your partner is doing. Consider life, happiness, and number of the thousands of bits of information you process in a nanosecond every day. Reflect. Ponder. Know that for thousands of years, our ancestors lived lifetimes with no entertainment while pooping. If you’re paleo, this should already be on your radar.
We have only this one life and there are times where we protect each minute as a priceless gem. But then there are hours lost to cat videos and Pinterest fails and reruns of TV shows we watched 10 years ago. Don’t let these fill in the empty spaces where otherwise you might find your own thoughts. Think while you shit and you could change the world.