Do you have one of those friends? You know, the kind that comes to visit and spends the entire time checking their phone, texting and “Just taking a quick call.”
I actually had two. One was an old friend, who had her computer permanently on, with facebook up and ready on the screen. When I would visit her, she would be half hearing me, half updating her status’s and replying to messages. My other friend was surgically attached to her phone, constantly looking at it rather than me, and I started to wonder why she even bothered coming round.
Had they been very close friends, I would have sat them down and told them that I felt uncomfortable and unheard, and that I needed to feel that I had their full attention, but because we weren’t that close, what actually happened was that I just stopped seeing them. It had to happen. After each visit I would feel miserable, boring and unimportant to them. It is such a horrible feeling when you know the person you are talking to is not really there. That they are not willing to give you 100% of themselves and their full attention during your time together. But recently, I had an aha moment.
I am that person too.
It was devastating to realise. I would never dream of texting someone whilst I am with a friend. I don’t answer calls, and I put my phone on silent. To do otherwise would be (in my opinion) rude.
When I am at home, it is a different story. I too, often have the laptop open to facebook. I repeatedly throughout the day check emails on my phone, send texts, make calls. And in doing this I am only half present. It’s ironic that the people who get the least of my full presence, are in fact the most important people in my life – my husband and most often, my son.
This realisation shattered me. Why would my sons needs be any different to mine in this case. He wants someone who is present, content in his company and engaged enough to give him 100%.
I wondered how he must have been feeling. Was he feeling hurt and unheard? Boring and unimportant? I don’t know. What I do know though, is that I never want to be the reason my son is miserable.
Technology was monopolising my time, my life.
I would wake in the morning and check my emails and facebook before even getting out of bed. I would be exhausted and tell myself that tonight I needed to get an early night, but by the time evening came around, I was too sucked in to the world of internet to go up, finally dragging myself away far too late, only to continue the cycle of tiredness.
I have had facebook breaks before, went a week without TV, and put limits on to my internet use. But when the ban is over, I always slowly return to the same unhealthy habits.
But this is so important to me, to my family. I knew I had to take steps to break these habits for good.
I began by turning the internet connection off on my phone and leaving the wifi switched off at the wall. It is still a work in progress, but I need to come to terms with the fact that it is ok not to read and respond to emails as soon as they arrive in my inbox. That the world will not cave in if someone has to wait a few hours, or even a few days, for a response. That it is not vital that I read every single status posted on my newsfeed. That those little red notifications are not my priority – My child is!
I haven’t worn a watch in years, but I am seriously considering changing that. Checking the time on my phone is a huge booby trap. Just a quick glance and I notice an unanswered text, a missed call, or think “I’ll just have a quick check of my email” and before I know it, I am no longer present. I think a watch will definitely be going on my next shopping list.
I believe, when used correctly, the internet and social networking are incredible resources. Without both of these things, I would not have a business. I would not have the friends that I am so lucky to have met, and my social life is mostly arranged via facebook. So I wont be closing my account and cancelling my internet connection. What I will be doing is changing my mindset and treating my family with the same respect I afford my friends. I want to be living real life, enjoying our time together and letting my child know that I love him and am so happy to be with him.
I want to be present.
Are you feeling the suck of modern technology? Are you trying to find ways of being present with your family and showing them that you value their company? Please share with me in the comments what changes you are making to achieve this.
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