Saturday, January 2, 2016

Analog and Acoustic

Lightning fried our TV on Christmas Eve. Which got me to thinking about this blog post I wrote last year but never published and certainly never followed through with. It was a sign (not really). So here it is, hope you enjoy it and it provides a little food for thought. Happy New Year.

One time I was talking to my sister and she was lamenting the many woes of her electronic devices and how, on regular occurance, they wouldn't perform the desired task or operation she had called on them to do. They are fragile things that do less for productivity and more for general frustration than anything I can think of. On hearing her list of complaints I said "That's why I love a barbell, a barbell always works..." She laughed at the truth of that statement, and it really got me thinking about how much I love the primitive amalgamation that is the plate loaded barbell. No charging, no Screens, no instant notifications, just a straight steel rod of knurl and rust and some iron discs.

I've Been thinking a lot about that conversation and it's larger application of living a simple life, especially as one year ends and another begins. I am ever conscious of the man I want to be, and I am pretty sure the last thing I want to be is someone who feels less like a man and more like a consumer of media.

A couple of years back I traded in my dumb phone for a smart one. It has all the bells and whistles, and it can do anything. It takes great pictures and amazing video. It can make you narcissistic enough to feel like the star of your own movie via social media. It can make you angry at complete strangers for disagreeing with your point of view. It helps you discover new insignificant things to get theatrically offended at... It can even distract you to the point where your daughter asks you something 3 times and then gives up and walks away because you won't listen or look away from the screen... And then it can make you hate yourself too. Wow, what a powerful little gadget...

In contrast, every Christmas I usually get a few books for my winter reading. This year was no different. The cold weather generally lends itself to relaxing with a good read, and that's what I've tried to do. (I don't know why schools ever consider a summer reading list a good idea. Summer is for sweating, grass cutting, and sunburns. Don't trap yourself behind a book when it's daylight past 8 o'clock) I've tried the kindle approach, but I hate it. Give me ink on paper and maybe a pen for underlining. There are no pop-ups or advertisements to pull you down a side street of distraction. I love a book... books don't have buttons or batteries...

Christmas time and New Year's is almost universally a time of reflection as one year comes to a close and new one begins. I'm generally not one for serious resolutions, but this year I think my own glaring shortcomings merit a hard look at the things I can do better, for the sake of those I've been entrusted to care for, and for the sake of the man I want to be. I'm planning to trim back, leave the phone out of arms reach, and get lost every now and then. I think it's time to unplug a little, and listen to the acoustic and undigitized voices of my own family. I want to embrace the infinite and unlimited potential of pen and paper in all of it's analog glory and limit the screen time of the electronic world to a fraction of what I pay it now. I want life to imitate a barbell; simple, strong, effective, durable. My 2016 resolution can be summed up in two words Analog and Acoustic. 

(Also check out my buddy Nathan's blog post about getting rid of his iPhone)