My friend Christina Crook wrote a book recently. Called The Joy Of Missing Out (or #jomo in today’s world), it’s how to detox from technology overload and how to use technology as it was originally designed for; as a tool.
Aside from being biased, and I’m very proud of her accomplishing this, it’s a fabulous book. She talks from the heart, about personal experience and doesn’t pretend she’s above it all. The addictive nature of technology is something we all struggle with, much like our compulsion with choosing less than nutritious foods; either because they are convenient or because they are tasty. We know better. So why is so hard to break these habits?
There are so many reasons to break away from technology that I think everyone will find something they resonate with in this book. Mine was in Chapter 12, where Christina talks about the effect our constant surfing has on our children. While I am careful with my eating habits in front of my children – because I know how quickly they can pick up my bad habits, I’m not as good with my phone. Yes, I surf Facebook in front of them. Sometimes while they are playing, sometimes when they are watching TV and sometimes – and this is bad – when they are eating. When I spend so much time going on about the importance of conversation and eating together.
Christina talks about the internet being a tool. She herself lived without it for 31 days and during that time, I remember being with a mutual friend and neighbour one day. We, for some reason that escapes me now, needed to get in touch with Christina. My friend went to pick up her phone to text her, put it down again and sighed as she realized she couldn’t get through the usual way. We are so used to it! It’s quick and easy but there is no actual contact. How many times have you received a message and you have no idea what the person is really trying to say? Words don’t have expression and it’s impossible to read a person simply from a text message. Are they angry? Are they joking? What are they really trying to say? You wouldn’t get this with a telephone conversation.
What Christina really conveys about her journey through 31 days tech-free is that it’s pretty much unsustainable in today’s world to be without the internet. Filing a story she wrote to being included in social events were all bigger hurdles. Never mind the day-to-day things we take for granted; such as looking up a phone number or business or even checking the weather. Everything is online. I take my hat off to her; I couldn’t do it.
What I will try to do, however, is one of her suggestions. Take myself off Facebook for a week. That’s is really my biggest time waster. I’ve already deleted the app from my phone along with a bunch of others that I can’t even remember loading in the first place and I resolve not to put it back. I’ll keep others I love such as Instagram and Twitter that are designed for phones and I won’t access on my laptop. I need to keep Gmail on my phone because as a stay at home mum I need the flexibility to work elsewhere. From the book, Christina has helped me identify my weaknesses and taught me how to use these devices as tools and I believe what I’m doing will work.
Yesterday, as I was close to the end of the book, I left my phone and laptop upstairs and I went downstairs to the basement to play with my younger daughter. Normally, I would keep my phone within earshot and as soon as it dinged, I would reach for it. No matter what my daughter was doing. Always one eye out; she rarely has my absolute full attention. Yesterday, she did. And we had a great time. Puzzles were the game of choice and it’s amazing how her mood changed when I concentrated fully on her. Later, when I needed to do something for myself, I felt no guilt about her playing alone and she went along with that happily. It was a good day.
So here I go; embarking on a healthier way to use the devices I have without switching them off altogether. First off, a week without Facebook to break the habit of checking it way more than I really need leaves me time for other things.
And since March is Nutrition Month, I will use that time to bring you new recipes; something I’ve been neglecting. And of course, more puzzles with my 3 year old. Because she’s way cooler than Facebook.