Our generation still remembers what it was like before this technology revolution. We saw it happen in front of our eyes and remember how it was when our landlines were the main connection with anyone. We saw when the first cellphones came and slowly became a necessity. We only had our desktop computers, if at all, and remember the days before the interne! We have lived through it and have gone from living without any of this to being totally dependent on our gadgets. In many ways it is amazing obviously, I could not have been able to live so far from my family otherwise. I find myself better connected with so many of my old friends like never before. I just love it and am so thankful. But we cant ignore the other side of this too!
Sometimes I cant help imagining my mom’s life when she was at the stage I am in today. My parents had moved to Kuwait for a few years because of my dad’s work and my mom was a stay-at-home mom of two under 3. Their families were back in Pakistan and calling back home to talk to them was probably a once-a-week kind of thing, and that too for not much longer than some minutes. Letters were the main source of detailed communication. With no text messaging, Skype, Whatsapp, Cellphones, Social Media to interrupt her thoughts and attention every little while, her focus was us and she tried to take out time for her art and her writing whenever she was able to.
And I compare that to my life. The time difference means that the best time to talk to my family is either morning or night, and so I check my phone first thing when I wake up to make sure all is well. Since my father’s death, making sure they are okay everyday is even more essential for me. We’ll catch up a bit on Whatsapp, share pictures, and then I’ll check my notifications from the couple social medias that I am active on. I am guilty of doing this as I make breakfast and even though I try to put my phone down as we eat, many times the notifications from my phone will take me away from the moment and I'll get to it to reply. Often I don’t realize my daughter is talking to me as I am busy with my phone and I have to force myself to look at her. Later on if I visualize this scene in my head, it is the saddest thing. My daughter telling me something excitedly, and me not even acknowledging as I am distracted with my phone. Of course it is normal sometimes, there is so much multitasking going on in a mom’s life, but when it starts becoming more routine, some thing is not right. It feels like we are losing those moments where we are fully present, mind and body, and enjoying the ones around us, and enjoying what we’re doing. It's like we are constantly living our lives in disconnect.
I have been thinking of this for a while and it is hard for me to write some of these things, but I look around me and I see many others doing the same. Its not even something we notice most of the time. It is becoming the common way for us to live our lives. Even though I cannot cut myself away from my phone, I really think we need to evaluate ourselves and be able to disconnect, physically and mentally and enjoy the moment. Whether we’re a parent, a spouse or a child, it is so important to focus fully on the people in our lives when we’re with them. I’m sure if we didn’t change it, it would affect our relationships with our loved ones. And not to forget how mentally draining it is for our brains. Sitting with someone, talking to someone else, not being able to enjoy what you’re doing because your mind is just never there.
I wonder how our kids that grow up watching us and our devices that keep us connected to everything will be like when their time comes. Just how we wanted to be different from our parents generation in many ways, maybe after seeing us, they will want it different too. They will want their lives back, their privacy and to live in the moment more. They wont want to give the divided attention they got from their parents.
SOME IDEAS TO DISCONNECT
1: Keeping a gadget free zone in your house, for example your living area, or your kitchen where your family gathers at the end of the day. Alternatively you could also do gadget free hours, e.g: 7 to 9 pm
2: No phones on the dining table or at mealtimes.
3: Keeping an internet detox day for the whole family. I tried doing this every Sunday and it was harder for me than I'd like to admit.
4: Removing your phone from your bedside, so it is not the first thing you do when you wake up. Instead give your brain the space to think and thank God when you wake up, before you immerse yourself in the routines of the day.
Do you have any thoughts to share? Would love to hear. Thanks for reading and lots of love.