Sometimes I don’t realize how toxic something is until I step away from it. Like it or not, some people’s purpose is to poison the spirit and hopes of others. Social media is filled with them. Some we know and others we don’t but even the most positive of the bunch can be deflated after a bombardment of poison. This is a reminder to step away from your phone, the internet, email. Take a walk outside and breath in some fresh air. We all need a mental break sometimes, a place to escape the negativity that constantly tries to tap on our door. Don’t answer it. Stand tall and be whatever positive difference you can make in this world.
This is random but I was thinking life was so much simpler back when there was only one knob to turn on the bathtub. These days, I spend the entire relaxing experience sitting up and reaching to continuously adjust the knob for hot followed by the knob for cold and then repeat that same ritual another one hundred and fifty times. I am grateful that we have hot water that is easily accessible but still, there must be a better way.
We are spending our last two days of so called fall “break” doing an extensive research paper on Kilauea volcano. I say we because having a kid with ADD does not provide for hours of dedicated attention span and requiring the paper to be done APA format makes it even longer and more intricate to complete. My daughter is in 11th grade and has never done a paper in this style. It would be nice if there was time in class to work on these papers and to make sure the teachers actually taught and explained what APA format entails. Where do they think the kids learn? The parents of course and here’s a newsflash. We didn’t have computers back then. We didn’t have to figure out how to cite something because there is no author or because it came from a website with no author. Give me a break. We never had to submit our reports electronically or add pictures using a computer that have to be certain dimensions. We could write the report, tape on the darn pictures, carry it to school and physically hand it in. Pardon me if I am technologically behind and I barely know how to turn a computer on. It’s tough times for us parents who are generationally behind. How can we help our kids who can’t seem to help themselves? It really gets under my skin. Really, a break means just that, a break, no work. This has really ruined everyone’s weekend. It just doesn’t seem fair.
There is still no food in the house because we are still in the phase of removing the food source for those pesty moths. We decided to go for dinner and settled on Buffalo Wild Wings. I told everyone they had to leave their phones at home and then felt foolish as we sat surrounded by a thousand tv’s. There was no conversation over the hooting and hollering going on over stupid football games. I couldn’t help but wonder how different relationships might be if we were as passionate and into each other as we were a random football game. It was like someone punched me right in the gut when I glanced around to see families and couples staring at the screens. Is that what we have become in this world where you can watch tv anywhere you are, including the bathroom? We are so distracted. We are so afraid we might miss something on the mighty tube but we have no concern what we might be missing in our own relationships. How could we though when our attention is always someplace else? Who has time to notice anyway?
One simple thing that aggravates me every single day is auto correct. I often wonder how many times I can mis-type the same word over and over. The word quote is one of them. Usually it takes me four tries to come out with a word that doesn’t look like this, wuote. Why doesn’t auto correct fix that one? What gives it the right to pick and choose? I do believe auto correct is a selective service. It waits until you are absolutely as frustrated as you can possibly be and it turns the word chicken cordon bleu into chicken cordon blue. It waits there, hiding in the shadows, quietly laughing as you look dumber and debt(see!) . I swear I typed dumber and dumber but still it pokes fun as it changes my words. And seriously, can you honestly tell me it cannot separate a few words typed together as one? It can not separate and figure out that gonetothestore is gone to the store? How can something be so smart and yet so stupid at the same time? Who invented this anyway? Some sicko thathasnothingbetterto do than humiliate and embarrass and frustrate someone who never even asked for this helpful service in the first place? Indonesia! Translation! I’m done! WTH? Hachamovitch! By the way, that is name of the guy who came up with this genius idea. Amazing that autocorrect has no trouble not changing a crazy word like that! God ochre! I mean gofigure. Go framing figure! Oh forget it!
Yesterday we went to a baseball game. While I was sitting next to my son I noticed how the color of his eyes complimented the shade of his hair. I noticed how dark his freckles had become in the recent sun. I studied his face until he looked at me awkwardly and said “what?” I was staring at him and it was clearly making him feel uncomfortable. This morning I wonder if he will remember my face. Once I am gone and my memory is all he has left, will he remember me? Will he close his eyes and see the details of my face? Will he remember it with clarity?
It saddens me that people don’t look at each other anymore. They spend so much time staring at the glow of a cell phone or the screen of a laptop that they don’t look at each other. Not the way we used to at least. The distractions and the constant buzzing and texting and beeping keep us from really connecting. We see the shadow but the details are fuzzy. I wonder if anyone ever imagined how each breakthrough in technology would break down the relationships that meant so much to us. I wonder if we ever imagined that someone would choose a tiny machine over our own company. I wonder if the world wil ever be the same. Play dates are replaced with FaceTime and talking hours on the phone is replaced with emojis and lol. If only we could rewind. If only hindsight really was 20/20. If only we could undo the damage already done. If only we looked at each other the way we used to. If only..
From the time I was born, you never fled
Changed my diaper, kept me fed
You rocked and loved me, kissed my head
You’d lay me gently, shared your bed.
You watched me laugh, you watched me grow
You taught me things I’d need to know
You gently pushed me from the nest
You wanted me to learn the rest
Our roles are reversed, now I need you to learn
To pick up that ipad and stand on your own
Now it’s your turn, to remember your passwords
Sometimes to move forward, you’ll take a step backwards
I know you can do this, I’ve taugh you enough
Now you find the confidence, come on, toughen up
I need you to fly from our safe little nest
I don’t want to shove you but you won’t leave my breast
I know you can do this, you are brave, you are stable
Please don’t call and ask me what to click when I’m putting dinner on the table
Just push the button, not much could go wrong
It will not explode, told you THAT all along
It’s only an ipad, so don’t be scared
Just click the damn button, don’t sit there and stare
So Facebook away and go play your games
And if something happens, it is dad you can blame
I bought a book that has resonated with me on a very deep level. It’s called Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford. The book is about her discovery of how wonderful life can be without distractions. How many important conversations do you miss because you are checking Facebook or reading emails? How many times have your kids tried to tell you something important while you give them a fragment of attention while staring at a glowing screen. In fact, when is the last time you paused long enough to really look into someone’s eyes? It hurts to acknowledge the truth but one line I love from the book is “The truth hurts, but the truth heals.” If we are not willing to take an honest look at ourselves and the part we play in our relationships, there will never be an opportunity for change. I think of the countless mornings I walk out to the kitchen to see the back of my husbands head as he is lost somewhere in a sea of email. I think of each evening he comes home to find me in the same place rushing to get dinner on the table and not even pausing for a second to look at his face and say hello.
Often, I feel very much alone. Even sitting in a room full of family, there is often little if any conversation and not a single hint of eye contact. Someone is listening with their eyes glued to the tv while another is in between laughing quietly to herself at the latest snapchat. I’ve thought long and hard about having a mandatory time that everyone shuts it down. Computers get put away and phones are turned of and put out of sight. We are addicts of technology. If we add up the time I spent on my ipad, my daughter on her phone, my son playing video games and my husband on his laptop, the results would be devastating. I cannot even bring myself to realistically count because I know how disturbed it would make me feel.
My point is this. There is nothing more precious than human contact. To feel someones presence in close proximity is about what interaction should be about. Find a way to give that person at least as much time, focus and attention as you would a casual snapchat or a habitual text. In fact I challenge you and myself, to give that person so much more. It is no wonder so many people feel depressed and alone. A glowing screen cannot replace a real conversation or one on one time with someone we love. We have allowed it to happen and it is now our responsibility to make it stop.
I was telling my mother about the book and we were talking about how we’ve convinced ourselves that having a good relationship is sitting side by side with the tv on, laptops in hands. I told her how nice it would be to really connect with someone simply by holding hands. Her response? Who does that anymore? She makes a great point. If our hands are already full with so many gadgets, connecting on a real physical level will be a thing of the past. I am committed to finding my way back to simpler times. Times when I felt loved and appreciated and a bare minimum….seen. Human touch and feeling someone’s eyes staring back at yours is just what we need to become un- numb. Relationships feel so robotic anymore and I want to feel so much more. How about you? Will you join me in becoming hands free?
Hello blog. I’ve really been neglecting you lately. I’ve been spending the last 25 days with family visiting from out of town. My last one left just this morning and I am frustrated with myself that I paused long enough to feel the emptiness.
I guess you could say I am a loner. Moving around has scarred my heart and I decided after this last move I was not going to open it back up. Relationships are hard. They require time and effort and allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to let others lives entwine with your own opens up the option to be hurt when the time comes to say goodbye. I didn’t realize how removed I’ve been. I’m just satisfied enough to have a small number of people to go to a movie with or lunch or an occasional shopping trip. But the truth is, the depth of those friendships are pretty shallow. I tried at first but decided going through the process of weeding out the ones who like to suck what they can get out of you while giving nothing in return forced me to shut down. Relationships are not as enjoyable or rewarding as they used to be. It seems conversations turn into arguing over who knows more. Deciding what to do and where to go turns into a battle of strongest will. The comfortable “let’s spend time together” relationships seem to have disappeared for me.
As long as I stayed shut off and didn’t allow the loneliness to creep in, I didn’t even recognize the absence. I enjoy doing things alone but I let myself forget how good it feels to do things with someone else. In a world where a husband and wife’s interaction occurs while bumping into one another at the sink to brush your teeth at night and the constant distraction of cell phones and iPads making it impossible for someone in the same room to even hear what you say without repeating yourself at least a dozen times, there comes a time when you throw in the towel and say “I quit, I’m done” and the shut down recycles and starts all over again.
These are lonely times we live in. Communication is broken. People talk more but listen less. I don’t even know if they hear much at all. They just wait to respond but never actually listen to what someone says. They don’t know what’s going on because they are not paying attention or miss the details that get lost somewhere between checking email, texting or playing a silly game on their computer. All the while, people are hurting and feeling alone and shutting down. How can you compete with the fancy gadgets? You can’t so you just shut down. Relationships are falling apart and phones and computers spend more hours in people’s arms than a friend or loved one. We are giving hours of our time and attention to gadgets but we can’t take a minute or two to look into someone’s eyes sitting across from us in the same room and actually take the time and devotion to hear what they are trying to say. There’s never a good time because people are always so busy.
It’s a sad thing to say but it’s easier to try not to compete and drop out of the race. Why give people the opportunity to make you feel less important than a piece of technology? I am grateful for the company the last few weeks. I don’t even have the words to express how good it felt to sit outside and just chat with my mom for hours. I forgot how it feels to be surrounded by someone all the time who just wants to spend time with me. It hurt like hell to say goodbye and now I am forced to make a choice. Do I continue to be a loner or do I try and open myself back up?
I did it today. Despite my better judgement, before I knew It, I was parking and getting out of my car at Walmart. It is no secret that not a fan. I just move at a whole different speed than most who saunter around there pushing a cart. I found myself at the meat counter where I ordered a pound of ham. I can’t even bring myself to write about the ridiculous details that followed. All I know is this. Young people today really have a tough time functioning independently. They are so unsure of themselves and really come off as being helpless. I seriously didn’t know if I should reach out and hug the girl behind the counter and give her some encouragement or whether I should slap her and scream get with the program. I struggle with this because I have two kids of my own ages 12 and 15. If I am being totally honest they are lazy. They argue more about not knowing how to do something when they should spend their time trying to get up and figure it out. Heck, their phones are constantly in their hands so can’t you Google how to pretty much do anything? There just seems to be a low desire to do anything, a lack of common sense and a deficiency in problem solving. I am worried and I am really trying to figure this out so I can help the helpless in my own home. Being an example is just not enough, especially when there are more of the wrong kind of examples all around. It’s okay for people to say I don’t know how and then just not do something. I didn’t have the luxury growing up especially in the workplace. I wouldn’t dare say I can’t do it or think it was okay to not perform part of my job. This pitiful girl couldn’t even pick up the bologna and told us so.
Am I ragging on and judging people today? Yeah, I guess I am. It is mostly out of concern than anything else. Be patient and teach them you say. Well, I say they are so distracted they don’t have the capacity to take anything in. I am seriously considering cutting the plugs of every TV, and computer in this house. I just may collect all phones so maybe I can show these kids how much time they waste in a day on nonsense and doing nothing. Learn the basics. Finish those tasks first and then I say free time is your own. I know I am not alone in thinking technology is making our kids poor time managers and lazy, not to mention completely distracted to the point they all appear to be walking zombies. What’s a mom to do? It’s a changing world and I don’t like it. Kids just stare blankly when you talk to them. They look right through you and don’t even respond. They are so socially awkward that it makes my heart hurt. I am all for change but not this kind. Part of me thinks I should just give up but the fixer in me says I just can’t. They are even starting to lack empathy and compassion because they are so disconnected to the humanness inside all of us. They react more like a robot then they do a living, caring, breathing individual. They respond more lovingly to the phone in their hand then they do the people around them. The only way they can seem to communicate is through their fingers which takes away the sentiment of what is being said. Eye contact is almost a thing of the past as is having a one on one conversation with someone fully attentive. I am sad and I am for a loss for a solution. Anyone else out there feeling the same?