Thursday, September 19, 2013

Failing at Life: Time for a Digital Diet

As I look around my house I see a lot of things undone. Laundry in baskets... floor sticky in spots... projects started but never finished. Meals that I bought ingredients for but never made. Cupboards and counters full of things that shouldn't be there.

As a mom of three, I complain that there just isn't enough time to do everything. I can't possibly take on ONE more thing, I simply don't have time!

But... I have a confession to make. I do have time. Lots of it. Problem is I spend a LOT of time (more than I really care to admit) PLUGGED IN. I would say on an average day I spend at least 50% of my time looking at my phone, or my computer, or the TV, or some other device. It's very likely more than 50% of the time but that's just depressing to say 'out loud'.

If I have to wait in traffic for more than 10 seconds, I automatically pick up my phone. I can't sit down to nurse the baby without my phone. I will go to look something up online and suddenly it's been 45 minutes and I don't even know what I've been doing. Browsing Facebook... Pinning things I have no intention to make... checking email. Anyone who knows me knows I am never 10' from my phone at any time. Like, ever.


I feel like if my kids had to draw a picture of what their mommy looks like or what she does all day, it would look like this.
What can I say - my kids aren't very good artists. *cough*

There's no doubt that today, a huge part of our lives just IS online. Where would we all be without email, the school calendar online, instant messaging to tell someone we're running five minutes late? Have you ever felt like, 'What's the point of this?' if you forgot to bring along a camera to document and post pictures? The idea of totally disconnecting is unfathomable. You know that friend who still isn't on Facebook or can't text from their phone? Do you ever feel like they are somehow unreachable a lot of the time?

I love technology. Big puffy heart love it. But, let's be honest here.... all this time plugged in is taking a serious toll on our lives. I'm tired of seeing all the things around me that simply aren't done because I spent too much time on garbage. (Sorry but that whole Miley Cyrus thing? Pure garbage. I gained nothing from that entire thing.) Sure, that video seemed really super important and gosh darn funny a few minutes ago, but did I really need to watch it twice (or, at all) and then share with my friends, and then comment about it? Do I need to know what Katie Holmes is doing right now? Is it even remotely okay that my main source of news is via friends online?

Are our lives even remotely enriched by all the STUFF we consume in the run of a day?

I would say not. I would say quite the opposite: wasting time plugged into a device is seriously dragging us down. How many times have you stayed up WAY too late at night, when you should have been sleeping, just reading 'stuff' online? How many times have you been out with friends and half the people (likely more) around you are looking at a screen? Isn't it time we stop and look at each other? Not through a funky instragram filter... I mean really look at each other. Like, in the flesh.

Not to mention actually getting some things done... like exercise (I don't have TIME!), or preparing nice meals, or getting the house in order, or talking to your spouse. Not texting or sitting next to each other while staring at a screen... talking. To each other. While looking at each other.

Alright all this ranting has got a point. It's time for a digital diet.

We don't have to respond to every text immediately. We don't have to respond to every email, period. Facebook notifications are not a to-do list of things to get through. It's time to put down the phone for a few minutes. It's time to make technology work for us, and not the other way around.

I won't lie - I'm feeling a bit uneasy about this. I have a birthday party to plan for a week and a half from now... how will I possibly do that without browsing Pinterest every day?? How will I know if someone is trying to get a hold of me if I'm not checking my phone every 2 minutes? Sadly that's about how often I check it. Not that I need to check it -- it buzzes or bleeps every time I need to be notified (ooh! someone liked my post!...).

Regardless, it's time. Something has to change and it's going to start today. I'm allowing myself just TWO HOURS a day of screen time. Two hours. Total. For the day. Nooooo problem. I can do this. I can totally, totally do this. I'm not feeling the least bit twitchy at the thought of cutting back.

Considering I've already spent easily 3 hours looking at a screen today (ohmygod) and it's not even lunch time, I'd say I'm off to a STELLAR start. Truth be told I was going to aim for one hour a day, but The Hubs and I like to unwind at the end of the day with a TV show together (while I have my phone next to me and my laptop lit up on my lap... yep, I am that person) and I'm having a hard time thinking about giving that up. I can give up the extra screens and maybe we can even sit TOGETHER to watch the show, instead of separately. Hmmmm. I'm going to start with two hours and see where that takes me. I'm ashamed to admit that would still be a huge cutback for me.

Anyone else feel like they need to pare down their digital life and ramp up their REAL life? The one that doesn't need a charger or a wifi connection? Join me... we can do this together. Career requirements aside, would you be willing or even able to cut down your (personal) screen time to just an hour or two each day?

Also - I know you're all used to me getting back to you immediately when you text or PM or email. Just know if I don't respond, I am (probably) not in a ditch by the side of the road (MOM)... I'm just taking a break and will eventually see your message sometime later today. :)

If it seems like this post isn't ending, it's because once I finish it, I'm turning my computer off... and I'm having a hard time getting to that point. Okay, I'm going. No, really... I'm going now. For reals.

Can I just check Facebook one more time?... OKAY no I'm going.