Pat's View: How much bandwidth do you have?
By Patrick Robinson
The term bandwidth, taken from technology refers to the maximum rate of data transfer across a given path.
But in common parlance it means how much information you can take in, consider and use.
For some, reading a book on advanced particle physics, with multiple equations on every page is easy. Some people can absorb that depth of detail and deal with interruptions, add the noise of family life, and the business of day to day events and feel completely in control.
But I think those people are relatively rare.
So in the age of a cellphone in every hand, with immediate access to an increasingly vast array of information, news, entertainment, work communications and personal conversations how much bandwidth do you have?
In 2021 a survey on phone use showed that nearly half of the respondents spent five to six hours a day on their phones. That’s roughly a third of your waking hours per day.
How do you value your own time? That’s actually a better question than it might seem on the surface.
So let’s start at the end. We all know we are going to die someday. Not to be morbid but it’s the truth. Our time here is limited.
Hence time is a resource, and using it wisely makes sense. If the average lifespan is now 72.6 years, and we assume a person in an industrialized nation will get a phone (or some such device) when they are around 11 years old, then that would mean a full 13.2 years of their life would be spent gazing into a tiny screen. Doesn’t that strike you as wrong?
How much time is left to enjoy a sunset, linger over a delicious dinner, watch a live play, read an illuminating story, or create something you and others might care about? How much time is left to walk the dog, take a walk in the woods, have a heart to heart conversation, help a neighbor, or visit a friend?
The texture and depth of our lives shouldn’t consist of arguments on social media, playing Candy Crush, being the 4,650th person at a concert to record it on video and then never watch it. It shouldn’t be so that we are lured into the tiny but meaningless adrenaline rush of a "breaking news" alert to tell us about a fire in a distant city or a car wreck in another town (or really even our own).
If you can’t see how much you are being manipulated, controlled, and used by people and companies whose goal is to monetize and monopolize your time then you are missing it. By missing it I mean living your authentic life. Not one viewed through the prism of a six inch screen and curated by people who only want to use you to make money.
Put the phone down. Let the battery run down. Go somewhere without it. Talk to people. View actual art. Take charge of your personal bandwidth.
Stop letting something else be what you focus on and live your life in person.