Technology is wonderful and most of us couldn’t imagine our lives without it. But I also realize how quickly it allows me to be absent from the world around me. Especially absent from the people that I love. During times of stress or boredom, I find myself escaping to a phone, TV, or computer. In trying to become more self aware, I realize technology has become a problem for me.
It can be so easy to turn on the news in the morning and then absentmindedly leave the TV on for hours. Those mornings are the ones when the stress level in my house seems to be compounded at every turn. Frustration ensues because I am trying to make breakfast, listen to the news, and keep the kids happy. The distraction of the TV seems to exacerbate every minor situation to an unnecessary drama. I’m not sure if it is the noise or the visual interference that is the problem. However, I do notice is that if the TV stays off? My mornings become noticeably more pleasant.
Then there is social media. We all know the draw, and we continue to feed the addiction. It always seems like as soon as I get on my phone, the kids are in my face or screaming about something. With a little self reflection, I can see that it is not their actions that need to change. It is MINE. I am immediately less patient because I can’t look at a post AND meet their needs.
Instead? I get upset with the child in front of me for my lack of connection to them.
The odds are pretty good that said child would have been in front of me even if I didn’t have my face stuck in my phone. And I am confident that if I had not been distracted, I would have been able to handle their request without becoming frustrated.
Social media has also created this fictitious world of which I desperately want to be a part. It becomes an escape from my current situation. Do I want to be stuck in the house with two sick kids? Nope. Do I want to scroll through pictures of people traveling, eating amazing food, and look at stuff I can’t buy? Yes! The problem? I need to be creating the world I want around myself — instead of just imagining it through a screen.
Instead of looking at people hiking in cool places? I need to pack up my kids and go for a walk! I don’t need to be watching people eating good food. I need to let my kids help me make dinner!
When we finally get our kids to bed at night, both my husband and I are guilty of phone surfing or heading to the TV. We are connecting to everything the world has — except we no longer connect with each other. Instead of turning to each other for conversation, we turn to technology to de-stress.
My phone and Netflix are not what I value in my life. So why do I keep turning to them at the end of the day?
One thing I can’t knock technology for? Staying connected. It does allow us all to stay in touch with the people we don’t get to see regularly. But the problem, for me, lies in the execution. And mine is pure laziness. Instead of calling a friend that I know is going through a hard time, I send my support through a text message. I feel like I’m losing my ability to just call up a friend to catch up or cheer them up.
How connected can we be when a text message filters out all the feelings and emotions of friends and family?
Texts and email have begun to shut me down and keep emotion out of my relationships. Too many times, I send an email or text when I know the subject matter might be hard to discuss over the phone. While it can be helpful at times to address tough topics, I truly believe it’s damaging our relationships as humans. I don’t want to distance myself anymore from the people I love by hiding behind technology to maintain our relationships.
I know I can’t 100% disconnect from technology right now. All I can do is continue to be hyper-aware of where technology intrudes upon my relationships. Not only for the people I love — but also for myself. There is always discussion of “screen time limits” for children, but I think it should apply all of us — no matter our age.
All I can do is be better and try harder to consciously detach myself from unnecessary technology.
Let’s have a dance party instead of watching TV. Read a real book instead of one from a screen. Discover new walking paths instead of scrolling through someone else’s adventures. Leave your phone in the house when you go out to play. We don’t need pictures of everything we do. We need to be present, in the moment, embrace it, and remember it in our minds. The feelings attached to experiences are much more powerful than any picture you take.