There's something that has been on my mind lately. It's the empty look on my child's face when I am texting or using social media. He receives no eye contact from me and knows that I am not listening to him. This is normal for him. It's been this way for his entire life. To him, this is a major part of how humans communicate. I tell myself: It's so much easier for me to text. I'm not on my iphone all the time and I'm definitely not as bad as some people. I really try not to text in the car.
Then I think back to just a few years earlier, in 2008 when my daughter was his age. There were no iphones and I didn't text on my cell phone yet. When I think about our time together there was a lot less frantic distraction of needing to check, find, reply, and listen to the constant noises my phone was making. I think there's a problem; however, I can't put my finger on it exactly. Until, I saw this Ted Talk called Connected, but alone?
In her talk, Sherry Turkle highlights the importance of having conversations that are unedited, retouched or cleaned-up. She reminds us that hearing someone's tone of voice and what they might be feeling allows us to learn about each other, to come to understand others and ourselves in a way that short-changed texted conversations don't.
It really hit home when I thought of my children constantly watching me grab for a device instead of learning how to be alone. "Solitude is where you find and gather yourself, so you can reach out and form real attachments. It's where we learn to be self-reflective, the skill that is the bedrock for development." Soon, if my children have the feeling that no one is listening to them, they will grab for an automatic listener, a machine. They might feel lonely, but afraid of intimacy.
I am taking the speaker's advice "to reconsider how I use technology and have a more self-aware relationship with it. I am creating scared space and leaving that space open for complicated conversation in which we reveal ourselves to each other. Where we can be vulnerable with one another."
I know of one friend who does not have a cell phone. I have a few friends that do not text and there's lots of people who don't have Facebook pages. I am not one of them. I need a little challenge, so this week, I begin:
Text and Facebook Free Sundays
The Rules for Sundays:
- no texting of any kind
- phone calls are encouraged!
- either limit yourself to one brief time or no time for social media: Facebook, pinterest, instagram, and blogs.
- arrange your events so you don't have to use facebook messenger
- have more real conversations
- don't feel left out or isolated but included and involved with family and friends
- if Sundays don't work, choose a day of the week that is best for you
Want to join me for Text and Facebook Free Sundays? Do you know of any other links to similar challenges? What other ideas are out there for reconsidering how we use technology, especially in front of our kids? Do you feel you're in balance with your use? Tell me more!