t is not a coincidence that the time-referred present and the gift-wrapped present are homonyms. Christmas and birthday presents are given in the present. Presents derive happiness. And happiness occurs in the present.
It is not our way to purposely toss away the present in an act of desertion. Instead, we are now equipped with numerous distractions that unknowingly engulf our minds and create artificial, automated “human” models of iOS and Androids. Moreover, AI robots such as Sophia are attempting to become more human while we, the true icons of human, are becoming more like these young AI robots. We don’t want the robots to win this time.
According to an infographic from SocialMediaToday, people spend approximately five years and four months on social media in an average human lifetime. This concerning amount could preferably be spent elsewhere in face-to-face conversations and family time. However, it is disconcerting that people are now choosing the alternative — the deceiving, gaudy wrapping that conceals the actual present, metaphorically.
We also neglect the spur-of-the-moment instants that fly by before we look up from our phones. These spontaneous acts of kindness and inherent tendencies, arising from instinctual traits, are lost beneath our own making and assimilated into the collective consciousness of the next-generation Borgs (in the words of “Star Trek”). We human Borgs are being mindlessly led by the minds of millions who are counting on the future of the strongest intellectual entity and are operating with the knowledge of strict order, not empathy. Is that your image of us in 20 years?
In all honesty, the present moment is difficult to conceive. With mounting homework and extracurriculars, we do spend most of our time on past actions and future thoughts. We reflect on past behaviors and set our eyes on college or jobs, but unfortunately we overlook the millisecond-to-millisecond moments in life. Ironically, it is harder to do nothing than do all you can do.
One solution is to turn the 30 minutes of screentime to 30 minutes of “you” time. As you stare out the open window, notice the rustling murmur of the leaves and the woven shadows casting down on the porch. Your body sways in accordance to the beat of nature. Without the beeps and boops of constant reminders in your phones, you can cherish your own priceless present of time. You belong in the moment.
Another solution is to stop thinking about the moment. Instead, act upon the moment. We have a tendency to unconsciously think too hard and mechanically about free throws, fingerings in the violin, or the act of writing a full sentence. As our minds wander to our constant mental chatter, we end up not focusing on movements we had committed to memory.
We are also cooped up with a storm of information from school and expectations that it eventually clouds our perception of what is right in front of us. The thought of college acceptance or career opportunities ahead may send shivers down your back and distract you from enjoying the precious reality of the instant. The next time you receive the gift of the present, unwrap it and see for yourself what is out there in this beautiful world.