I like to imagine a time back in the 1970’s – or maybe even the 80’s – when the only thing anyone had to check was their mailbox. That happened only once a day at the same time every day.
Or maybe you checked your baby’s diapers.
Or you checked the inbox on your desk to see if your secretary left one of those pink “While You Were Out” slips in there.
Then… along came answering machines. A nice convenience. You’d check your answering machine when you got home from the store, or from the office. You would write down the messages and call people back.
The phase of checking only a few minor things – answering machines, mailboxes and diapers (and of course, the financial statements that were in your mail) – lasted all the way til the 90’s when email began.
And then, we started checking email. But only after we logged onto our computers.
And then we got laptops. A revolution.
Unlike our mailbox or our answering machine we could bring the activity of “checking” along with us. Now we checked emails and maybe some updates on blogs we had started to subscribe to.
Slowly, a trickle began. The miniaturization of things we can check – all in the name of convenience – began to fill our pockets, purses, packs and pauses.
Now, we no longer have to sit still. There is always something to check.
If you’re not careful, checking will consume hours of your day. Checking has tricked us into thinking it’s an actual activity. And yet, it’s not.
When you are checking, you are not actually completing something. (When you “check” your email, do you answer it? Or do you let it pile up in your inbox to intimidating proportions?) You’re merely looking at something. You are looking for something. You are always on notice that something – God knows what – might be there. And regardless of whether or not anything is actually THERE, you are on alert. And you THINK you are doing something.
But you’re not doing anything.
You are filling space.
You are checking.
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