ticking boxes

I am in a frenzied yet ever-so-efficient ticking boxes place. I have deftly micro-managed my impending move across the river within an inch of its conceptual life. And nothing, apart from contracting dengue fever, will get in the way of me executing my segue into northside life with military precision. I have adopted a slightly crazed and frenetic look just so that people understand that I’m really taking on some big first-world problems here. And yes, it really does matter that the power and the Internet are on when I move in. Absolutely.

It doesn’t matter at all.  But I am who I am. A box-ticker. A to do-lister. A desperado for being in control. And there are a lot of us out there. As well as a lot of ticking boxes to do list wannabes if you go by the amount of helpful websites and apps that respectively advise on the best approach or do it for you, complete with time estimates, due dates and text reminders.

But are all these long lists of things to get done and the anxiety which seems to accompany the achievement of this task some sort of twentieth and twenty first century creation. Why are the majority of us so busy that we need to make lists which include such things as (and I saw this on a website which gave examples of ‘real to-do lists’, so it must be true):
happy hour
attend church
walk to farmers market
pick up kids at their mother’s for road trip to Idaho
dinner with husband to celebrate my birthday
The above are from a couple of different to do list case studies. Are we really so busy nowadays that we need to go down the track of ‘note to self…in the event that I forget that I have children and that they are coming with me and I’m halfway to Idaho before I realise I was supposed to pick them up…I’ll put it on the list.’ Or ‘perish the thought I miss out on cheap drinks between 5 and 6 o’clock on Friday because I’m so busy trying to remember that I am attending church on Sunday morning’…and yes, those two were from the same person’s list.
Am I being harsh? Yes. And I’m sorry about that. Hypocritical? Undoubtedly. But I am fairly certain that I have never listed ‘get to the end of the week and really enjoy a drink’ on any list. Or ‘breathe’. Although perhaps some days I should make a note of that.
I just wonder if perhaps this need to list and tick is akin to the status updating and hash tags of the previous entry; a need to affirm our existence and our first world progress through life. We don’t have to fight for our survival or our right to proper medical care. We don’t have to wonder where the next meal is coming from. But in some ways we are just as unable to control our environment and the course our lives take as any fragile human being. And perhaps the lists help.

love in the time of social media

Overheard, a group of teenage girls: “…but they must’ve broken up, did you see the hashtag?”

I have many, many questions about this statement. Perhaps that’s because I’m almost three times the age of the person who said it. But a hashtag signalling the nail in the coffin of a budding romance…? To coin another oft heard phrase of the generation to whom I impart knowledge…I’m so confused. Whatever the person being referenced actually updated, tweeted, or posted on Instagram in some kind of hyper-coloured, ragged framed visual announcement of breaking up, it wasn’t enough. They needed the hashtag for reinforcement.

And did they update straight away? In between the sobs? Has updating our every experience become a reflex? Do our friends and extended google circles need to know everything all the time?

And what was the hashtag?

It made me think about the guy I overheard on the bus who was pretty happy telling his friend that he had “rocked a clean break”. I thought he was talking about surfing or a skating trick. But he wasn’t. He was talking about the ease with which he had exited his relationship.

And then there was my hairdresser, a guy ten years or so younger than me, who once helpfully gave me a few phrases to pull out if the situation required it:
It’s not you, it’s me. I have standards.
Friendship’s all this kitchen’s serving.
In response to: do you want to give it another shot? … I’d rather BE shot.

In an age where we can access love or some approximation of intimacy through apps and Internet sites, have we lost the depth and meaning of falling in and out of love and the concept that we are actually dealing with another person? Or is it just another way of negotiating the rocky path of our emotions.