The Ultimate Distraction

Have you ever sat back and thought about how technology has changed your life?  There are positives. You can clear your email from your phone, instead of having to log on to your computer. You can have a text conversation with someone, when you prefer to not have to call them. You can enter everything into your mobile calendar, rather than having to keep track of things on a paper version.  Plus, your schedule is available at the touch of a button. Oh, and let’s face it, having the Facebook app on our phones makes life so much more convenient too, right!?!  I mean, I would really hate to not know that “Susie” took a quiz and posted what it says about her personality….

Despite all of these positives, there are also negatives. Some really big negatives.

Last night I found myself at a park, with Lou, my 6 year old. As I sat there watching her swing, and slide, and climb, my phone kept going off in my rear pocket of my blue jean shorts. I looked around the park and saw so many parents talking on their phones, or typing away on their screens, or scrolling up on their screens. I found it really sad that they weren’t interacting with their children. And, I was brought back in time.

Eight years ago we moved to the city and state that we live in now. Eight years. Not that long ago, and yet, eons ago as well, especially as technology is concerned. At the time Coco, who is now 10, was 2 1/2. I was new to being a stay at home mom, and, we would go to parks all the time. One particular park was pretty large, close to the apartment we lived in, and Coco loved it. This happens to be the same park that I took Lou to last night.

As Lou and I played, my phone continually went off in my back pocket. One sound for a text, another for one email account, yet another for a second email account, the ringer for my phone to ring, yet another ring tone sound for my husband….I was overwhelmed and, really, very distracted. So, I silenced my phone. Oh, and I forgot, there is another separate noise my phone makes for Facebook posts. Remember, lest I miss something posted to Facebook!

I’ve heard, before, that we are like Pavlov’s dogs with our phones. When they make all the various noises they make.  We are drawn to them.  Who sent me an email? Who texted me?Who posted on Facebook?  Who is calling?  Oh, I once again have lives available to play Candy Crush or Bubble Witch!  Thank you phone for notifying me!!  Who has wasted more of their lives on these particular games than doing anything else!?  (I am proud to say that I no longer play either of these games. I did. Once upon a time. Fortunately, I finally realized what a time and life waster they were and deleted them from my iPad.) This pull, from all these various items, and noises, isn’t necessarily good.  What I heard is that for many of us it creates a feeling of anxiety. Very interesting.

Back to last night, at the park….I thought back to eight years ago, eight short years ago, and how I didn’t have all the technological features on my phone that I have now. I didn’t get emails on my phone. I had to dedicate time in my day to log into my account and check my emails. I got phone calls, but not like now. Now, everyone expects everyone to be readily accessible, at all times throughout the day. I mean, why wouldn’t you be?  Most of us have our phones strapped to us almost all the time. I didn’t get texts eight years ago. Heck, when texting became popular I didn’t even have a plan on my phone that allowed free texting. I logged onto my email account, from my computer, and emailed all my friends who texted me and told them not to text me, that my plan didn’t allow for it, and that if they wanted to correspond with me, they would have to pick up the phone and call me. A couple of my friends made fun of me for this, mainly my much younger friends. Yet, to me, the text feature just wasn’t a necessity in my life. Today, alone, over the last 7 hours, I have received and sent 51 texts. And, I wager a bet, that compared to many others, that is a very low number….

So, why does all of this matter?   Are you asking yourself, who cares?  Here is why it matters….

We miss out on life. Our faces and our minds are buried in our phones. Looking at Facebook, playing a stupid game, texting someone repeatedly throughout the day, filling that need for constant interaction. Eight years ago, while I was at the park, with Coco, my phone stayed in my purse, locked in the car.  I didn’t just sit on the side, look up occasionally from my phone, and see what Coco was doing.  No. I was doing it with him. Going down the slide. Climbing up the playset. Pushing him in the swing. We were interacting with one another. Laughing, smiling, talking, having fun. I think so much of life flies by. With people deep in their technological items. Not even realizing that life is happening, right before them.  Happening without them….

So, yes, last night, I silenced my phone, and instead of caring who was trying to text with me, or call me, or who posted something new on Facebook, I played with my Lou, my 6 year old daughter, who, before I know it, will be much older and will have no desire to go to the park with me. It was wonderful!! To leave the Ultimate Distraction without the possibility to distract. In that very moment I made the conscious decision to do this much more often. Phone silenced at lunch, dinner, at the park, anytime when I could be making memories with my children rather than nose deep in my phone. Missing out on life. Missing out on them. I choose for my new Ultimate Distraction to be my children. And, I couldn’t be happier….

Originally Written 30Jul15

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