Do you ever think in social media? Oh, I could write a Facebook status about this… I should take a photo for Instagram! … I could write this story on the blog…
Now, don’t get me wrong: You’re obviously reading this blog, and I am obviously writing this blog, so I’m not trying to storm the castle of social media with torches and pitchforks. Technology is an amazing thing – we can learn about the lives of the people we know (or don’t know, for that matter), tell the world how we’re feeling, what we’re doing, how we’re doing it… etc. Social media is a way of making our global space feel a lot more like a small community.
I don’t know about all of you, but I’m needing a bit of De-Teching in my life. Why, you ask? Because my smart phone seems to be another organ that helps me function each day, and my eyes could use a good break from staring at something that glows.
I also worry that this is what Quincy thinks his Mommy looks like:
It sure gives a new meaning to The Son of Man painting, don’t you think? (Hint: I’m making a very poorly formulated apple joke…) Well, because we want our son to know what our faces look like, and what our laughter sounds like, and for him to learn from us in every way, I’ve decided I need to do a little detox session with technology, by de-teching my life a bit.
No, I won’t be flushing my cell phone down the toilet, or torching my computer in the back yard, but I do need to work on distancing myself a bit from the various screens that plague my eyes during the day. Here is what I’m proposing to myself:
1. Decreasing (Pointless) Screen Time. Cutting back on the use of apps like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram during the day should save me some time. Instead of checking my phone whenever an alert arrives, I will instead check it while Quincy naps, or while grabbing lunch, or in the evening once Quincy is down for the night. As a former Nine-to-Fiver, I was accustomed to having my phone silenced, my personal email unattainable, and being able to devote my time to the task at hand. Now, as a Stay-at-home-Mom, my task at hand is loving, caring for, playing with, and teaching my son. And as someone who grew up before cell phones were around, I knew how to play outside, read books, and entertain myself when the power went out. Why should it be any different with the raising of my child?
2. Quality, Not Quantity. Have you ever sat at your computer, paging through blogs, cruising down the Facebook news feed until you’ve read everyone’s updates, or read through countless pages on Pinterest until your eyes have blurred? I have. I do a lot. Now, I’m not saying that these aren’t great things – again, here I am writing a blog! I had a Pinterest Party recently! You probably found this page through Facebook! And, of course, I love that you’ve taken the time to read this. What I’m trying to say is that screen time should have a purpose. If I’m just killing time instead of doing something of purpose, then I may need to move on to a more meaningful activity. When I do sit down to read blogs, pin something on Pinterest, catch up on Facebook, or see the latest images coming through Instagram, I can have concentrated time to review those sites and apps, and then be done with it, and skip the aimless browsing I’ve become accustomed too.
3. Replace an evening of TV/movies with music or conversation. Lately, I’ve been busying my hands with some crochet and sewing projects. The great thing about crocheting and knitting is you can also watch a movie or television show. It’s easy to just flip the screen on, busy my hands with yarn or fabric, and zone out. Instead, I plan to leave the screen off while still enjoying my Yarn Time, but play some good music, chat with my husband, or – even better – do both.
4. Stop Using the “Just In Case” Excuse. I bring my phone with me to the kitchen, just in case someone calls. Then, I bring my phone to the bathroom while I shower, just in case I get a text message. Later, I bring my phone on a walk, just in case I get a response to a post on Facebook. Will it really be the end of the world if I don’t respond right away to a text message? Or if I get a voicemail instead of answering my phone on the second ring? Or read every Facebook notification as it arrives? While using the Just In Case Excuse, I actually continue to set myself up to burn more time haphazardly.
And now a reality check…
I should clarify that this isn’t a big protest against technology or social media (like I said, let’s put away the pitchforks and torches); I’m sharing, instead, that I struggle with how I spend my time. Social media was and is a great help to me, especially in the first months after Quincy was born. I was comforted by friends going through similar situations, I could connect to the outside world even if it was difficult to physically leave the house, and it helped stave off some of the loneliness that can be accompanied to motherhood.
Admittedly, I also watched TONS of TV those first weeks, and I think it was helpful to cope with sleep deprivation, have noise for Quincy to fall asleep to, and to take it easy in recovering from the birth. I since have limited my own television time to after Quincy is down, but again, this isn’t a fight against television.
I use my smartphone for many practical things: checking the weather, making a grocery list, looking up vocabulary in Spanish, counting rows in crochet, taking photos of my ever-growing-baby, connecting with family and friends, and – of course – making phone calls. It isn’t logical to completely reject the use of my smartphone, or email, or internet, but be aware of when it’s time well spent, and when it isn’t.
At the end of the day, I could really take some cues from my own son. If Quincy is having a fussy day, I’ve found going outside seems to appease him (most of the time). And he doesn’t need a shiny screen to entertain him. What’s one of his favorite toys these days? A container with plastic utensils inside. Plain. Simple. Oldschool fun.
Thank you for reading; I hope this has been social media with purpose and meaning!