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Life Outside Your Phone

By Debbie L. Bajgert

I realize that times change and that each generation does things differently than the one before it. I also understand that the world around us requires us to change the way we do things. I do believe, however, that with all the technology created to make our lives easier, we've actually allowed ourselves to become even busier than we were before. This is about how we choose to manage that.

Obviously things change over time, usually a lot of time so that we don't even notice it happening. The goal of these advancements is to allow us to get more done in less time. I think, however, we've taken that free time and filled it up with even more things to do, usually online and usually via our phone. Yes, we get more done, but I don't think we've gained anything because we're not using it for things we want to do; we just keep adding in more things we think we have to do. I think we're so addicted now to filling up our time that we simply don't know any other way. Any free minute we have, we reach for our phone or laptop. We always have to be looking at something, checking something, or doing something (usually more than one thing).
I'm certainly not opposed to any of these advancements. I do, however, think there's still a place in our lives to stop and look at other options. I think that we can use this technology to our advantage but also make sure we use that advantage to keep our humanity. I'd like to make a suggestion to just stop and evaluate situations to see if it's always the best use of your time. Sometimes it's better to just be in the moment and enjoy it for exactly what it is.

I know we all agree that multi-tasking while driving is a bad idea, but I also know that most of us continue to do it. I'm not saying just texting and driving, but making and receiving phone calls, even on Bluetooth, is distracting. The conversation itself is distracting. How hard is it now to sit through a whole red light without checking your phone to see what you're missing? When we're in meetings at work, people are either busy checking their phones or run right back to their desk and grab them afterward. When was the last time you met a friend for lunch or drinks and just sat and talked to each other? I pass parents walking their children in strollers and the adult is on the phone, allowing for zero interaction whatsoever. When the kids are in the park playing, the parent is sitting on the bench talking on the phone or scrolling through their messages, emails, or apps. Kids learn by talking to us, through interaction and play. I see the same thing happen in grocery stores, restaurants, department stores, and various events. People are going through the motions of doing things like shopping or watching a child's sporting event, but they're also distracted by doing something else. I get it! I'm guilty of it as well and I usually regret it right away when I do it. We all have to do as much as we can in a day, right? Sometimes we have to take calls or manage a problem. All I'm saying is that there might be good times to just NOT multi-task if possible. Now might just be a great time to think about how we want our world, our relationships, to look in a few years and how our next generation handles itself.
Our kids are learning to behave by interacting with the adults around them. We are the ones that set the expectations, that spend time teaching them what's right and what's wrong. Kids are so smart that they learn by just watching what we're doing and they learn a lot!

If we want to change any of how we're managing this technology, now is the right time to do it. Now is when we can make changes to how our own kids will manage it. Again, please don't get me wrong; there's definitely a time and place to use these things and I know we need them, but paying attention to the people we are with is important. Giving all of our attention to driving and to our jobs is important. Giving ourselves permission to just be in the moment is important. So enjoy that sunset or that game or that conversation without doing anything else at all! We all need time to think, to turn everything off and to pay attention to what's really important to each of us. After all, that's what all this technology was developed for, right?
I would love to hear from you with any ideas or feedback that you'd like to share.

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