“In my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind
we’ve gone too far…” as sung by the Buggles
I turned off my phone last night. It was quite blissful, well as blissful as an evening alone with a sleep-deprived toddler can be. Several episodes of The Wonder Pets later, my grumpy little one fell asleep next to me in her street clothes. When I awoke three hours later to move her to her room, I easily could have gone back to sleep. But I had to check my phone. That’s how these things go.
Ironically, I often criticize others with my problem. A few months ago, as M and I had our usual zany conversation over old school barbecue downtown, I watched the family in the booth across from us eat their meal in silence. There was no tension. They all seemed content. All three, from the middle-aged Dad to the teenage daughter, were simply too engrossed in their smartphones to say so much as “pass the rolls.” Two weeks ago, a different family exhibited similar behavior at our local pizza joint while they waited for their to-go order. The two tween boys kept up a steady argument over a shared iPhone, almost coming to blows, as their Mom and Dad remained glued to their respective iPhones. Last weekend, it was a trio of Mom and kids chortling over profanity-laced YouTube videos at the hot dog place. As self-righteous as I can get, I know I also have a major problem with being online.
In the past year, I’ve likely logged more minutes online than miles run (I trained for and ran a half-marathon and a 5K.) Most of these minutes, since our house was Internet free for almost 5 years until this summer, were on my phone. Not surprisingly, Blues and I signed a contract which I constantly test and/or break. So turning off my phone is a brave move, one I hope to make more often.
Family bonds aren’t the only ones tested by smartphones. I honestly miss phone conversations with friends. I can’t count the number of times a text or Facebook comment has annoyed or even angered me. Online conversations, as witty as they can be, lack the inflection, tone, and personal warmth you get from an actual voice. And Facebook will never, ever be as great as face to face time. The other night, my best friend, my daughter, and I were literally kids in a candy store, as we wandered around the bright pink and green shop filled with shelves and buckets of candy. You can’t have moments like that on a phone or computer.
It’s not about turning off the phone. It’s about reconnecting in the best way possible, with those who matter most.