Stay Connected (By Disconnecting)

The convenience of an iPhone allows for delicious recipes to be tried, crafts attempted, adventures inspired and photos captured.

But it also distracts.

A lot.

Looking unnecessarily at Facebook updates, getting lost in Pinterest land, obsessing over Angry Birds, reading the news, checking the weather for the third time that day…

Growing up, my mom was distracted a lot too. She’d be perusing a recipe book or zoned out watching TV or chatting with friends on the phone or reading a book. There was no one thing that took away my mother’s focus from me, just life. Today life distracts the same, though all those things can be done by way of one device. Everything we could ever want to do- find recipes, watch shows, read news, talk to friends, play games, and so on and so apps- we do from our iPad, smartphone or laptop. Life distractions now focused centrally.

Which makes me wonder, what effect is this going to have on our children? Will it be something they resent or covet? Will they obsess over it or rebel it? Blame or accept?

There will, undoubtedly, be consequences.

You know how when your kids are in front of cartoons, they suddenly lose all capacity to put things away, hear your voice or finish their food? It frustrates me to no end.

This, I imagine, is how our kids feel when we are in front of our little black devices; tuned out, ignored, annoyed. Only nobody is turning off our phones to direct us to a more fulfilling, fun activity as we do for them.

Thus my summer manifesto to go offline from 9am-4pm.

Listen, this is not a steadfast rule. Sometimes it helps to look up a popsicle recipe to make with the girls, or make plans for the day with friends. But my manifesto reminds me to make sure there is value in being online.

There is no value in the habitual ritual of constant checking. Checking for emails or tweets or hoping for particularly witty facebook updates. Checking the news, the weather, the scores. Checking, checking, checking when it can all be checked at the end of the day just as completely and more efficiently.

Does it feed my soul knowing that a kinda-sorta-friend had a good day in her garden? Not in the least.

Does it feed my soul to sit at the table and colour a picture with my girls while being sung a song about princesses being chased by a grumpy wolf who turns happy when he gets a crown so they have a tea party where the wolf break dances? Why yes, yes it does.

Breaking the habit is the tricky part. Slowing your mind so that when a quiet moment occurs, your first instinct is not to get updated. Instead of pulling out that phone, just sink into the moment. Be quiet. Hear your child’s ramblings. Feel the meaning behind a song. Listen to the whispers of a revelation. Whatever that moment is, be in it instead of distracting yourself (then those around you) with unnecessary looks into the abyss of the online world. Because though it can take you far, rarely does it journey deep.

And life, the good of it, the glorious messy bits of it, goes deep.

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