I’ve seen a lot of posts lately demonizing being on phones, iPads, laptops, etc. Technology is bad and it’s ripping you away from having Real Life Connections. We’ve got a guy getting “divorced” from his iPhone. There are books that are giving you instructions on getting away from technology and burning your to do lists … so you can actually live your life and “do what matters.”
It seems that every other post I see shared on social media is some sort of Make You Feel Like an Asshole essay. You’ve yelled at your kids? Well, you’ve ruined them and you’re a Horrible Person. You eat Cheetos and cheeseburgers? Well, you’re killing yourself with toxins and You Hate Animals. You vaccinated your kid? Way to go … you’ve injected them with poison and you’re the Worst Parent Ever. You probably kick puppies as a hobby, too.
I’m over it. I’m totally over it.
Do you feel like you’re spending too much time on your phone? Fine, put it down then, but enough with the self-righteous blanket condemnations–because not everyone on their phone is “missing out” on connecting with other people. Maybe being on their phone at that time is actually giving them a few minutes of connecting with someone who matters to them.
I’ve heard the “but the moms at the park on their phones are missing the precious moments watching their kids” thing. Maybe not. Maybe they just spent the entire morning doing EveryFreakingThing with them. Watching them color and paint and do puzzles. Playing dress up and having tea parties. Building forts and Lego castles. And that time spent on their phone while their kids are running around the playground is their chance to connect with someone else important in their life. But they’re just on Facebook, that’s not important. Maybe they’re on Facebook checking in on a family member looking for an update on their condition after surgery. Or they’re offering support to a friend who just found out their child / spouse / sibling / parent has cancer. Or they’re making arrangements for another playdate or fun thing to do with their kids. Or maybe they are just poking around because they want a break. How do you know their purpose for being on Facebook?
You don’t. So stop judging.
I spend time on my phone for all kinds of reasons, including connecting with my kids. I text to check in with them, to let them know I’m thinking about them, and to joke around. We play games with each other too. Who’s to say whether sitting next to each other on some kind of device playing a game is more or less valuable than sitting around a board game doing the same thing? I know my son and husband spent a good amount of time snuggled in a big chair together laughing and talking while playing Angry Birds together. They talked about strategy, trajectory, and cause and effect. (Gasp! That sounds educational.) They were bonding and building a relationship. And to have people condemn that or talk about it like my husband was somehow Less Than Good as a parent because of it … it makes me want to scream Who the fuck are you to judge the value of the time we spend together??!
On several occasions I’ve walked into my daughter’s room and found both of my kids–teenagers–lying in her bed watching videos and laughing together. Two siblings getting along and enjoying time together! Imagine that! Is that less valuable than if they were pushing pawns around a board?
Once in a while during dinner we put the iPad on the table and share videos we’ve seen that have made us laugh … and now we have all kinds of jokes and topics that come up throughout the day based on what we’ve watched together. Those things–BadDad, True Facts About ___, the Sittin’ on the Toilet vine, Ermahgerd, and so many more–are now connections for us. We have conversations and inside jokes because of those things. We’re building memories and relationships together.
As I write this, sitting on the couch, my thirteen-year-old daughter is next to me on her phone randomly talking to me about what So And So said on Facebook and sharing funny stories and revelations about what’s on Instagram. And we’re having conversations about all of it. If anything, I feel like technology has given me MORE of a connection with my kids–not less. I know as a teenager I never sat around with my mom flipping through pictures of my friends talking about what was going on with all of them. I sat in my room by myself listening to music–and my friends all did the same thing. Technology has opened up a whole new world of connecting with other people–including our kids.
Life is about balance. All things in moderation. And it’s also about doing what feels right and trying to make a good life for yourself and the people you care about. By all means, if you feel like your life isn’t quite what you want it to be, then make some changes. Just stop projecting your frustrations and unhappiness on others. Quit throwing out these blanket statements and posts that insinuate that because YOU don’t like something it means anyone else engaged in that behavior is wrong and needs to change. I’m over the condescending guilt tripping.
Technology is NOT evil … no matter what anyone tells you.