Caring for your gadgets and digital devices and planting them carefully
Once in a forest I strolled content,
To look for nothing my sole intent.
I saw a flower, shaded and shy,
Shining like starlight, bright as an eye.
I went to pluck it; gently it said:
Must I be broken, wilt and be dead?
Then whole I dug it out of the loam
and to my garden carried it home,
There to replant it where no wind blows.
More bright than ever it blooms and grows.
“Found” – a poem by J.W. Goethe, 1813
This simple poem by the writer, Goethe, has a strange relevance for the way many of us live and work today.
When we buy a gadget or digital device – a smart phone, a tablet, even a phone charger or a new desk lamp, we are moving it into our home, and into our life. When the gadget has a significant effect on our life – our habits and routines, our experience of ourself and other people – that experience can be more or less beneficial. A gadget will take root in our life and where we plant it – or place it – is more important than we often realise.
If you plug the gadget into a plug point not suited to it, it will soon overheat, even catch fire. You’ll only realise this when it happens to you. If we locate our phone next to our bed, it can act as an alarm clock but also a block to proper dialogue with the partner lying next to us, as its alerts and notifies us, as it vibrates and beeps, constantly interrupting the real listening our partners needs us to engage in.
If we put the TV set in the same room as where we eat, meal times can soon become antisocial and we don’t even taste our food properly. The way we look after and use our gadgets can affect, not only how long they last and their ability to work, it can also affect our own health – from keeping them clean and updated, to recharging them efficiently and ensuring they don’t get covered in damaging grease or dust. Leaving a phone in too much light can destroy it; letting water get in can destroy it and us.
Gadgets, sitting in shops or warehouses are like plants – they are temporarily rooted. We them take them away from those places when we buy them and we can replant them in places and ways that can help or harm us, and even hinder the gadget itself in its proper operation. TVs soon break in dusty corners, phone screens crack when they crash to the floor from cluttered tables.
We can and should plant our gadgets in fertile ground, where we can get best use and enjoyment out of them.
Find the place in the house where natural light allows you to turn down the smart phone glare. Send your gadgets to sleep at night by turning them off and putting them away, avoiding the usual stress of trying to find them in the morning.
We can develop easier, better relationships with our gadgets, enjoying them if we place them well. Our home and our work place, like a garden or a farm, is a small ecosystem. It needs the right amount of light and skillful planting and placement to ensure we harvest the benefits of what we are using and developing.
Our gadgets can be ill used by us, badly maintained and cared for, poorly stored and understood. But when we treat them with the love and care we might treat a vulnerable plant, we improve the quality of our own relationship to the things of the world.
If we treat them as throwaway, they soon degrade and we don’t even use most of what they have to offer us. As food and grease gets into the TV remote control from our unwashed hands, we raise the risk of bugs and disease, of them breaking, and even the act of changing channel can subconsciously feel lazy and uncaring.
Our relationship to our gadgets should bloom and grow. They are part of our world, and we can enjoy them consciously, or let them “wilt”. Like a beautiful plant in a pot, we must plant them and transplant them carefully; only then do we gain value from them.