Technology is a great thing, but it can also cause a disconnection between ourselves and the people in our lives. I will use my cell phone use as a perfect example for how it has helped my relationships grow and how it can also take away from my relationships.
My entire family is on the Verizon plan so it has been a great way to connect with my family members on a budget. Since everyone in my extended family is considered “long distance”, we use our cell phones as a way to communicate with one another. Having those free mobile-to-mobile minutes has been a Godsend for me and is a way that I can stay in constant contact with the people that I love most. We talk regularly to our family and it keeps us active in one another’s lives.
The cell phone also takes me away from the other things that I should be doing. Opportunities where I can connect with my children can become interrupted with the daily chats with friends and family or the beeping of text messages coming through. I can be mid-sentence with my child, hear the cell phone ring, and I run over to it like Pavlov’s dog. What if I miss out on something? What if someone needs me and I am not available? What if there is an emergency? What happens is that I end up missing out on real human-to-human contact and I ignore the person who needs me the most.
I had a friend once who would completely ignore me when her phone rang. At first I found this amusing, but later I found it be irritating. I couldn’t understand why she needed to have these conversations with others when I was sitting right there wanting to have a “real” conversation with her. I realized later that it made her feel important to have two people vying for her attention. She not only had me captive, but she had someone on the other end captive too. I would later voice my displeasure about it to my husband, but I realize now that sometimes I do this to my very own children. They will be chatting with me about their day and the phone will ring and I will cut them off mid-sentence to answer it. Am I no better than the person who was doing this constantly to me?
Here are some suggestions from the author of, How Did I Get So Busy? for ways to disconnect from the technology that can create more busyness in our lives:
1. Engage in stimulating conversations. One of her favorite questions in her house is, “What’s the best thing that happened to you today?” She says, “Stimulating conversations are ones that spark dialogue, meaningful interaction, and even reflection.” This is something that I can be working on with my family members and really sit down and set aside time to build these relationships meaningfully, instead of hurrying them through conversations.
2. Reach out and touch. The author encourages you to give the people you love a touch of affection to build your relationships. This is something I have no trouble with because I am one of those touchy-feely kinds of people that make others cringe. I love to give my friends and family hugs or a peck on the cheek. It is the kind of family I was raised in and something that I have carried over into my own family.
3. Help someone in need. Yes, we are all busy and we all can use this excuse to not help other people around us, but the author encourages you to make time to help others in need because we cannot afford not to help those in need.
4. Acknowledge people for who they are more than what they do. Notice their character traits or sacrifices that were required in order for them to do certain things. Build on those things when offering compliments to others, taking care to notice these things instead of a simple, “Good job!”
5. Laugh. When we are too busy, we might forget to do this, but it is an important way to connect with one another. I do this often with my sister in our daily gab-fests. She makes me laugh like no one else can and about things that no one else would understand. Sisters usually know you inside and out and they can laugh about things that happened in the past and stupid things you did when you were a child and they will laugh about things you do now. If I need a laugh, I can always count on her.
6. Journal. The author suggests even carving out just five minutes a day to journal and connect with yourself. I love the idea of keeping a gratitude journal because it can create such a positive start to your day and starts your focus in the right direction—focusing on what you have not what on you don’t have.
7. Meditate. This can go along with your journaling. I am going to try and make a commitment to wake up just a little earlier so that I can have my own quiet time in the morning. This might help my mornings to start out on the right foot and will start my day on a more positive note.
Sound Off: What are some ways that you have found technology interferes with your life? Do you have any tactics for removing those distractions?