I grew up without a cell phone. I grew up without GPS. The internet did not exist. There was no social media and when you gave your opinion you had to verbalize it and actually look at someone, much harder to do than to hide behind a “tweet”. No stores or gas stations were open on Sundays. The only store open on Sundays was a bakery for fresh baked rolls. Sundays were for friends and families to connect. All businesses were closed for Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. All this and we survived. We managed to have gas for the car and milk, eggs and bread without visiting the store or gas stations on Sundays and holidays. We were still able to contact those that were important to us and share our thoughts and experiences.
Today most of us carry a cell phone everywhere we go. We feel we must have this technology to be accessible 24/7. We want the people who care about us and who we care about to be easily accessible any time. But, does this really happen? More likely we receive unwanted spam calls/text messages. When an emergency does happen, we don’t have cell service or the person we are trying to reach does not pick up or answer a text message. We receive and send more text messages than actual phone calls. We also use our phone for entertainment and distractions rather than connect with reality around us.
Last week I sent an email to my sister-in-law and niece regarding the upcoming holiday season. Why did I not call? Because both are so busy they most likely would not pick up their phones. I was looking for their input on changing the way we celebrate as well as give information on whose house will host Thanksgiving and Christmas. I received a reply from my sister-in-law but not my niece. My niece spends a good amount of time posting and sharing on Facebook. So I messaged her via Facebook. She replied she had seen my email but forgot to reply. However, she readily replied using social media. During the summer I attended her baby’s first birthday party and unfortunately my niece spent most of her time texting and posting on her phone instead of enjoying her family and her baby’s birthday party. She was not present. To occupy her children she gives them a mobile device and her 7 year old son spends a great deal of time playing video games and finds it difficult to interact with people in a social setting. How many of us can relate to these activities if not in us but in others.
When I received a response from my niece via social media instead of a phone call or personal text I started to re-evaluate my use of technology and was I truly present in my own life. I came to the realization I too could do better. I still have a land line and people I am close to know how to reach me at my home number. Although I like all the recipes and inspirational sayings I find in my Facebook feed, I equally see a good number of misleading political adds as well as others sharing doctored memes and GIFS before determining the accuracy. We have become lazy gathering information before we vote and rely on social media to give us our news instead of focusing on reliable news sources. We do still have them regardless of the “fake news” attitude.
We must be the change we want to see around us. I have 275 “friends” on Facebook. But out of 275 people, how many are truly friends and in my present network of life. When I truly thought about this I realize very few are in my present reality network of life. It is certainly entertaining to look at others Facebook feeds, but at the end of the day it is not reality, but merely a snapshot of someone’s life.
I am making a conscience decision to stay present, have more conversations, less text messages and emails. I am going to limit my viewing time to once a day for no more than 10 minutes. After 5 pm I will put on “Do Not Disturb” and focus on other activities I enjoy. Remember, we don’t have to be readily available 24/7. Bad news and Good news can wait. The people who count know how to reach you when they truly need you. I hope you will join me in being present and unplugged. This will allow for true connection to what is supposed to be important in your life. Take a walk, listen to music or meet a friend for dinner, no phones, just talking.
Have a great day!