Years ago, when cell phones started becoming widely available, there were several things I started noticing. One was that when I was having dinner with my husband at a restaurant, people were on their phones. I thought it was beyond rude to be on your phone while your date sat there and stared at the wall. Isn’t that the whole point of going on a date, to actually talk to and spend time with the person you’re with?
I don’t have a crystal ball and didn’t see that this situation with cell phones was actually going to get worse. My children obsess over their phone and treat it like it’s an extension of their hand. (Most adults do too.) My kids will come home for lunch with friends sometimes, and if there is a fraction of a lull in the conversation, phones are whipped out, and all conversation stops. Twitter, texting, snap-chat and instagram begin. What the heck? I don’t get it. My oldest daughter even had a boy break up with her through a text. What ever happened to face-to-face conversation? Facial expression and tone of voice play a big part in the act of communicating feeling and emotion, something which cannot be duplicated through a phone, text or email (even with the cute little emoticons).
I have made it a rule that the presence of cell phones and especially the answering of cell phones or the land line are forbidden when our family is having a meal together. I want meal time to be a special, uninterrupted time where our family talks about the day and enjoys each other’s company. We all have time to chat on the phone later with friends and family when meal time is over.
Another intrusion, left unchecked, is media. To be honest, I have been far from perfect when it comes to allowing media to interrupt family time. Three months ago, I canceled a membership I had with a mail-direct-to-your-home movie provider because I was spending way too much time watching my favorite movies or episodes of my favorite old television programs instead of tending to everyday life. Since canceling that, I have discovered better and more useful ways to spend my time. I still enjoy a good movie, but now it’s in moderation.
And to the hard workers of today, Robert Brehl, in his article “The downside of technology” explains and warns:
“…we’ve been told for decades that technology makes us more productive and frees us up for more leisure time. Not so, according to the 2012 National Study on Balancing Work and Caregiving in Canada, in which 25,000 workers were surveyed. We’re working longer hours (the vast majority of people are now working more than 45 hours per week) and technology tethers us to the boss and clients on evenings and weekends, once the sole domain of family time.” [emphasis added]
Of course it would be easy to give other examples about the abuses of technology or media, and how it has dehumanized and disconnected us. But I won’t. I would just remind that we need to be careful with the way we treat each other where technology and the media is concerned. When I try to speak to my husband and he is looking at his phone, I get very angry inside. I interpret his behavior to mean that his phone and what’s going on with it is are far more interesting to him than I am. Do I believe that’s really how he feels? No. But it hurts and angers me nonetheless. On the flip side, I know my husband was frustrated when he’d try to talk to me and I was telling him to shush so I could watch my movie.
Set limits to technology and media and enforce them. They are supposed to help you, not enslave you.