Happy Day blogosphere! I had another topic in mind for tonight but as is my personal philosophy, when something presents itself, sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Tonight’s topic: Texting!
Texting can be a wonderful way to stay in communication AND it can also serve as the instrument for the lack of. There are websites dedicated to posting hilarious and unfortunate auto-corrects, of which most of us have experienced over our texting careers. My personal, not favorites, are the bonehead times I’ve texted a message to someone in particular and accidentally sent it to the wrong person. Come on now…. I think most of us have done that at least once. (Please tell me I’m in good company.)
When I was a single mom, texting had been a great way for quick check-ins on my children’s whereabouts, last-minute add-ons while at the grocery store, changes in scheduling, updates on drop-off/pickup times, sending cute pictures, and leverage for keeping headstrong teens in line, with the exception of child #2 who typically remains unphased to consequences pertaining to his phone (I find the detachment to his phone a healthy one). Anyways, all in all, it’s been a helpful instrument for keeping in touch and being pretty efficient in this fast-paced, on the go world we’ve created. I love my search options, mapquest, notepad app, photo albums, YouTube, and many of the tech tools I never thought I could master.
About 6 years ago, I was out to lunch with 4 coworkers, right after Apple released the iPhone with Siri, and for all intents and purposes, I might as well have been sitting at the table by myself. I was sandwiched between these 4 men who were having a love affair with their new upgrades they had stood in line for, for about 8 hours during the night just so they could have the new release….sound familiar?
After sitting in silence for several uncomfortable minutes, I reached into my purse, pulled out my phone and placed it on the table next to my water glass. Once I did that, it only took 1 of the men to notice. He sincerely apologized for being rude and slipped his phone into his shirt pocket. The others followed suit not long after and we enjoyed the rest of our lunch. I’ve known these men for years and could have very easily given them a hard time about their new relationship (with the phone). Instead, I left there with a resolve and clearer inner standing of what needed to change with my own family.
Because my relationship with my children is what I cherish most, I enacted a rule that usually initiates inquiry from most restaurant servers. When we dine out, all electronics including phones, Ds’, iPods, pads, and whatever else they have, go into a pile on the table. We don’t call, answer texts, or pick them up until we’re finished with our meal and the checks were paid.
These can be wonderful devices but they also have the potential to be huge distractions. As with all things, we must not become too attached lest we create a false dependency. Child #2 has a terrible habit of leaving 1 earbud of his iPod in while talking or driving with me. Although he complies to my requests for giving me his supposed undivided attention, he doesn’t see why this is essential for relationship building since he can “hear us both at the same time. One ear for me and one for his music.”
How many of you have been in a public setting and have witnessed groups of people so engrossed in their handhelds that they’re not interacting and fully connecting with their party in person? Truly, one of the saddest things I’ve seen is when parents use portable DVD players at restaurants to pacify their children until the next distraction (food) has arrived. Why not color with them and encourage the development of verbal skills, or get to know what they’re thinking and feeling? Seize the opportunity to hear what they have to say. This is when they’re most apt to open up.
Many parents are operating off deep seeded guilt for being too absent from working all the time or being a single parent. They then try to overcompensate by buying these technology trinkets in an attempt to console or temporarily pacify less than favorable circumstances. If that’s the case, it may be time for a relationship analysis.
Let’s review some basic phone etiquette: How many of you get off the phone while the cashier is trying to assist you at a checkout or do you just keep right on talking on your phone? The same courtesies apply to the teller at the bank, the server at the restaurant, and the list goes on and on. I know you’re conversations are ALL very important and every text is dire, but not while driving. Is injuring yourself, your family, or even killing someone else worth the risk of having to respond in that moment? Many of us use cell phones for work so we’re always on the run, but that’s not reason enough to put someone’s life in danger.
Are we using this technology to enhance our lives or have we become so dependent on them that a panic ensues when we realize the phone was accidentally left at home? I bet you turn around and go back for it don’t you, even if it means you’ll be running late. As awesome as technology is, we must remember to nurture our humanistic attributes first and not allow our devices to run our lives and keep us from connecting on a personal level. If it is, you just may have an addiction that requires a 12 step program. (NO, there isn’t such a thing.)
Action Steps: Consider the role your electronics play in your lives and relationships. Make the necessary adjustments to ensure these are devices of support, not distraction. My challenge to you is to leave the house at least twice a week without taking your phone. I promise you the world will not come to an end.