This question began as a joke to get the attention of our teenage son. Hubby Terry Oldfield used to call out toward his room, Is there anybody out there? A composer and tunesmith, Terry soon put it to music and it grew into this present day catchy single “REACH OUT” featuring Spanish guitarist and composer Carlos Garo. This modern technology addiction epidemic gives us plenty to think about. Yin and Yang, Good and Bad exists in all things but a question that begs contemplation is; “Are we in Danger of Losing Touch with Human Connection?” Business largely runs online now with much of the communication being through recorded messages, robots or clicks… often stuck on hold, (grrrr!) waiting for a real person. We can in fact get through the day easily without speaking to a real human. Have we become Human Doings instead of Human Beings? And where does mindfulness fit in?
The music clip Reach Out is brilliant playing up our use of emoji’s instead of expressing ‘real emotions and feelings‘. Through a series of clever clips it demonstrates our lack of presence during our everyday tasks mindlessly. There is an ever increasing gap between tangible reality and screen life. Much life is now lived on autopilot lacking real presence as half our awareness is listening for the next bleep – the next call to screen time.
A good side of the internet is that it can bring previously hidden suffering to light enabling positive changes. Terry and Carlos Garo met in Spain last year and hatched a plan to compose an album together. Terry Oldfield recalls that both artists contributed “in a creative and experimental environment, 17,000 kilometers of distance separated Carlos’ studio in Spain and mine in Australia. In this case, modern technology was essential for the album to go ahead. Depending on how we use it, the internet can connect or disconnect us from the universe.”
Mindfulness as a modern concept is also making waves. Growing out of ancient Buddhist and Yogic teachings and knowledge the mindful revolution is gaining momentum as psychologists are relying on it more and more to ground people back into the here and now, mindfully aware of their physical existence to develop greater emotional intelligence, resilience and live more consciously. But why this great resurgence? Do we need it more now than ever before? Could it be that we are so addicted to the exciting digital world and it’s constant incoming bleeps, likes and texts that we have disconnected from being in our surrounding physical reality.
Seeing couples sitting in a coffee shop and staring at their mobile phones instead of into each others eyes is a bit of a worry. Many romances are conducted via text and it is largely accepted to break off a relationship this way too. In fact we probably don’t need to do that scariest thing of looking in to someone’s eyes and telling them how and what we’re really feeling. We can just send 😀 😍 😎 🤡 😲 😓 or perhaps a ❤️ 💘 or even a 🙏🏽 . Now emoji’s can be fun but our millennium children have often known little else…..
A major report based on hundreds of international studies has found that Social media can damage young people’s mental health and wellbeing. “Those with low self-esteem are particularly at risk,” say experts from Macquarie University and Sydney’s Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Lead researcher Deborah Richards says “parents should be on the lookout for “increased risk-taking behaviours, cyber bullying, depression, exclusion of minority groups and reduced self-image and self-esteem”.
And have you heard of e-fasting to help with your social media addiction. Acronyms are popping up for so many internet related things now there is a real possibility the english language may die. Have you heard of FOMO? Well according to the report by the Australian Psychological Society (APS), one in two Australian teenagers suffer from FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out). Now there’s a thing… TMI is another one teenagers often quote to well meaning parents who want to explain some of the finer details of life but it’s Too Much Information. I guess in an era of information overload that’s understandable, but is it heralding an era of Too Little Loving Connection or TLLC?
Spending too much time in cyber space playing violent games, pornography, following social media stars and youtube gurus can make real life seem dull. After all we don’t all look like the latest hot chick and cool dude on fb. A lack of vitamin D from sun exposure, lack of physical exercise and healthy human touch, communication and interaction can exacerbate issues in healthy socialisation. With increasing feelings of isolation, low self-esteem and low of self-confidence, not to mention mindless robotic activity while holding a smart phone, it is no wonder mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are on the rise.
As a practitioner and teacher of meditation, mindfulness and yoga I have found this to be true. Each year we run an India Mindfulness, Music, Massage and Meditation Retreat taking people away from home with the familiar and diving into mindful living, yoga and meditation and people love it.
Is Anybody Out There? I’d love to engage you in this debate also. Please leave your comments…