“When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?”
-Thich Nhat Hahn
A few weeks ago, as I was setting my intentions for the New Year, it hit me: My iPhone is distracting me, distancing me … from the now.
I wasn’t always answering the Siren’s call, but it was seducing me: Pick me up, snap a picture to share, check the Facebook news feed, read this Huffington Post article.
I was dangling head first down the rabbit hole.
When I heard a text message ping, I reached for my phone and immediately responded – sometimes mid-activity. I puttered around online whenever I could – sometimes when I couldn’t or shouldn’t.
It was less the social media phenomena of FOMO (fear of missing out), and more a habit.
A mindless habit.
A bad habit.
It felt off … off balance.
I questioned: Am I modeling for my daughters a balanced, conscientious use of technology?
Because let’s be real … little eyes are watching, learning, imitating. It’s up to me (and my husband) to show our daughters how to live off-line in a culture that is teeming with technology.
It’s up to us to meld the old school and the new school.
It’s up to us to model how to stay connected to the moment and the company they are with.
I want my daughters to relax into boredom and get creative. I want them to be present, and let what can happen, happen. I want them to know what it’s like to be virtually unreachable.
So when considering what I wanted to leave at the curb in 2013, my rapport with my iPhone had to change.
With that, I signed off on a Saturday – from sun up to sun down.
To walk the talk.
I won’t lie. I felt oddly anxious, uncomfortable. If there was more than a moment lag in activity, I found myself reaching into my purse, thinking, wondering … struggling to stay present.
In the weeks following, I created my tech “diet”: A regime I hope is balanced and sustainable.
- Disconnect to Connect: Signing off for a day realigned me to my drive to stay present. Unplugging from technology was freeing. Disconnecting from my device is a gift to my daughters, my family, to me. It’s tough to reach out to those around me if half my mind is reaching for my phone.
- Implement Rules: My no nos: No phone while driving or walking. I’m clumsy as it is. I don’t needed an added distraction.
- Set Check-in Times: I check my emails, etc., at the start of my day, at my prep periods, at the end of my work day, and after my daughters are down for the night.This is simply a framework to guide me. I’m neither rigid nor perfect about it, but this guide keeps me from being a slave to my phone.
- Text Mindfully: My aim is to tread lightly with technology in the presence of others. Humans trump electronics. I’m all for firing texts back and forth with a friend when my daughters are watching Sophia the First after dinner. For me, that’s invigorating and in the moment. I rely on texts to communicate when I cannot chat with friends face to face. When I’m chilling out with my husband, there are times we are sitting on the opposite ends of our sectional couch, texting, reading online articles, and chatting in between. It’s a mutual agreement. Bottomline: Stay mindful. If someone I love needs me/wants me, I’m present … not on my phone.
- Check with Purpose: Instead of aimlessly spending my downtime (read: after the girls are asleep) wandering around social media, I ask myself, is this really want I want to be doing right now? If yes, fantastic – entertain away! If not, then I shift gears and dive into a good book, soak in the tub, or zone out watching Modern Family.
- Put Your Heads Together: It’s a snap to jump onto Google during a debate about the coldest city in the world. Now, I’m remembering to let my brain perform. When it comes to retrieving information on the fly, it’s exhilarating to share the task of remembering. You ask a question and boom, fifteen minutes later one of you circles back with the answer or you toss clues back and forth until you trigger each other.
Like how this couple remembered a show they saw on their honeymoon 40 years ago … I love this!
F: And we went to two shows, can you remember what they were called?
M: We did. One was a musical, or were they both? I don’t … no … one …
F: John Hanson was in it.
M: Desert Song.
F: Desert Song, that’s it, I couldn’t remember what it was called, but yes, I knew John Hanson was in it.
I want my girls to know what that’s like …
Just curious: Would you take a break from your phone? Do you have any phone rules?
Ciao for now.