Just because we can …

doesn’t mean we should.

My wife in casual conversation said, “Just because we can doesn’t mean we should”. Great words indeed and some that I think need to be elaborated on. In our day-to-day lives we often find ourselves regretting a decision, having destructive thoughts or wishing things were better off. Why is it that we focus on the past and the future and forget about the present. In social work circles being in the moment is called be mindful or “mindfulness”.

Ask any sports person about being in the moment and they will tell you about how zen it is to just react. I have a memory stuck in my head of the time I took off on a wave very late, fell down the face, and landed on my board with only my front foot. I was able to turn the board, get it under control and make a bottom turn all the while getting my back foot in place. I was in the moment. I was being zen. But something seems to have happened and it has to do with all ways we have to stay connected.

texting-and-walkingThere you are having a conversation and you’re pretty sure the person you’re talking to is listening, but then just as you pause they pull out their phone and check some social network. What’s up with that? Is that tweet going to pay a million dollars? Did you tell your agent to tweet you about that new role? Is your mom now so connected she updates her Facebook with status with, “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up?” I don’t think so. So why do we do it?

The only reason I can come up with is we want positive re-enforcement on our views, our opinions, our posts, and our social relationships. “Look I’m special and all my friends think so.” The problem with this seeking of attention is the fact it pushes us more and more to listen to only those voices that tell us what we want to hear. If you didn’t know Google, yes that Google filters results based on what you have searched for. This means it’s only showing you what it thinks you want to see. We see this re-enforcement now in the news we watch, the radio we hear, and the links we read.

Think about all the data and information you are bombarded with all day, from emails to voice mail, from Facebook to Twitter, from the radio to the TV. This weekend we are being asked to shop local. I would say we all need to think local. Pay attention to the news that is around your neighborhood. Talk to your friends and family in person. Visit the local deli and thank the person behind the counter.

So the next time your phone buzzes think, “Do I want to interrupt this moment”, the next time you open your web browser think, “Do I really need to know what Kim K and Justin are doing right now?”. The next time you walk in your house do you need to turn on the TV?

So next time you’re out and about, or at home think, “Just because I can doesn’t mean I should”, and maybe in the words of Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence …

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