About a week ago, precisely during the public holidays, I suddenly realized I didn’t have network in one of my main lines. This is the line I use for internet so you can imagine how critical it was. I’m not an internet addict or anything but the nature of my work requires I stay reachable online 24/7. Also, there may be need to establish a remote connection to the office and this is only possible with internet, obviously. Please bear in mind this was during a two-day public holiday plus weekend. I must not fail to mention that I was also cut off from WhatsApp which has become a major communication tool and a very important part of our lives. In addition, YouTube happens to be my own TV where I often go to catch up on foreign news on MSNBC and enjoy a good laugh as I watch my favourite show on CBS – The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I was missing out on all of these.
Of course I couldn’t just sit around wallowing in self-pity and hoping that the service provider who didn’t seem to care will restore their network. When the need to work came up, I had to buy a daily plan in my second line but the data was quite limited and couldn’t even last up to 24 hours. There was no need buying a one-month plan because my other plan was less than 7 days old and I was seriously hanging onto hopes that network will be restored in no time. I was dead wrong.
Four days into the holiday and as a matter of fact the last day before work resumes, I realized there was no network in view so I practically abandoned my phone and faced other things. I also went to bed early that night which is very unusual for a nocturnal being like me and as a result of that I got up at about 11pm. With phone gone and sleep gone as well, I turned to my computer and before I knew it I had listened to two powerful audio messages. Afterwards, I started playing some gospel worship songs I hadn’t played in a long while and just listening to them spurred me on to pray. I don’t know exactly how long I did that but all I can remember is that I never went back to bed that night. I continued in the “Atmosphere for Miracles” until it was time to prepare for work.
Work had started and not having network when at home was no longer a critical situation but the lack of network continued. So once again I turned to my computer and I started learning a new skill. I continued this till the end of the week. However, by the last day of the weekday I gave up on the network and quietly got a thirty-day plan on my other network but guess what? I’m stuck to my new routine. Not the routine of having a vigil, I do the spiritual exercise in the wee hours of the morning but in the evening before bed I face my new skill. How did I get here again? No network.
It was years ago I heard the phrase “attractive distractions”, I think I saw it on the cover of a book though I never got to read the book but I strongly believe that our gadgets, the internet, social media can pass as attractive distractions. They almost look like things you can’t do without. We are constantly checking our phones. If you posted something, you want to know the comments you’ve received, the likes, the re-shares and retweets. WhatsApp groups these days have become the new time sucker. If you’re not careful, you see yourself staying on a chat for hours or spending hours trying to catch up on messages you’ve missed. Meanwhile no one is waiting for you to catch up, before you recover from say 1000 messages, another 1000 has piled up in the same group or in another. But hey, hold on a minute, pause, put out the gadgets, get rid of the attractive distractions and do other meaningful stuff. Create your own “no network” and use that same gadget for other meaningful activities like reading or listening to an audio message that will impact your life.
Lastly, recently a tweet by former US president Barack Obama broke a Twitter record for being the most liked tweet with over 4 million likes. The same President Obama’s re-election in 2012 became a major social media moment when his update ‘Four more years’ gained the most likes in 24 hours – holding the record for ‘most likes on a Facebook item in 24 hours’ as well as ‘most likes on a Facebook item’. Interesting feats right? Yes, but where are those records now? I’m sure it didn’t cross your mind one moment ago. They are in the past, someday the record will be broken but the investments and value you add to yourself cannot be taken away as long as you’re alive. I challenge you today, let technology be a tool not a master. I leave you with this quote, “The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free” ― Nassim Nicholas Taleb