Logging Off

My dad asks me to take walks with him around the neighborhood frequently. One particular night in early May, I was reluctant to join him because I was in the middle of uploading photos and texting my friends about all our summer plans. But my dad insisted that I go with him, so we went.

The air was warm and crisp that night, and the flowers were in full bloom. There was a mild breeze, and it felt nice to just be there with my dad away from all the things I had to think about.

Everything was pushed to the back of my mind and I could focus on the little things, like the scent of the plants and the chirping of the birds. At the end of our walk, my dad turned to me and said: “When you listen and really think about what’s around you, you get so much more out of life.”

I thought about what he said that night, and suddenly texting my friends didn’t appeal so much to me anymore.

We spend so much time multi-tasking and living our lives at a fast pace. We are always doing so many things at once. And with the amount of technology at our fingertips, we tend to always be distracted.

I am definitely hooked by this new age technology. Although I don’t have a smartphone, I do have a large presence on social media. Often, I text my friends to check in with them and see what they’re doing.

When my friends and I hang out, there is rarely a time when we are not on our phones on Instagram or Tumblr. When we’re not, we’re talking about them.

Kids my age feel the need to update others constantly about their lives online. Communication so easily switches from face-to-face to on-screen. Instead of paying attention to each other in the present moment, we live our lives through other people’s posts and pictures. We lose sight of reality in a world of likes, followers and comments.

Recently, I was over at a friend’s house to celebrate Passover, one of the most important holidays in the Jewish culture. Before we ate, everyone took turns sharing a time when they felt truly happy. I shared a memory I had exploring hidden
roads and amazing views with my mom in Wyoming and relaxing with my best friends on the beach at camp. Other stories shared were taking hikes with family, swimming in secluded lakes, and playing soccer outside with friends. They
all had one factor in common: being outside and completely disconnected from technology.

Our perceptions of our own happiness are shifted when we see people’s posts online. Everybody strives to have the most likes, the coolest pictures and the most followers. People build up a “picture-perfect” persona online and create someone whom they want to be perceived as, but who isn’t necessarily the truth. Many try to show how happy they are. I think it creates the opposite effect.

We live in a beautiful city with access to many nearby outdoor areas. In a few short hours, you could be at the beach, the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood or the Central Oregon desert. Even when taking walks around my neighborhood, I am amazed with the beauty and serenity it provides me.

Next time you find yourself caught up with too many things on your plate or caught up online, try to relax. Take a walk to clear your mind. Put down your phone and log out. Try to listen to the world around you, and be aware of your surroundings for a little bit. I guarantee you will find true joy in the present moment.
You just need to spend some time looking for it. ♦

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Sarah Barr
Born in San Francisco, sophomore Sarah Barr and her family made the move to Portland when she was nearly two years old. Her family consists of her father Lewis, and sister Jessica, who is also on the Grant Mag staff. Ever since taking a darkroom photography class at da Vinci Arts Middle School, her main passion has been darkroom and digital photography. This is her second year of contributing to Grant Magazine as a photographer.

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