The Importance of Unplugging
Having a phone or computer sitting in front of you lets your family and friends know that they're important - until something more important comes up. I feel this in my life when I'm on call for work. I go about my life, but when my phone goes off, that call takes precedence. I don't want my family and friends to feel that way at any other time. I've been very conscious of my phone and internet time for a few months now. And realizing the importance of unplugging.
If I'm on the computer, I'm in the living room or kitchen with everyone else and it never bothers me to be interrupted. I read I write, I watch a movie or show. I try to ignore my phone unless I'm specifically taking the time to look at it for a reason. I do this because I resent when other people make me feel like their phone is more important than their time with me. It's a tough balance because I want to be available to my kids via text or phone call when they need something, so I understand priorities. If we're spending time together I want to be the priority. Not the only one, but at the top of the list or what's the point in hanging out?? It's not fair to isolate ourselves from the relationship in front of us so we can connect to someone far away.
This is most apparent at business meetings and at home when using a device is off limits (like dinner time). In meetings, my phone has no volume and is usually in my purse or put away. I'm there for a purpose and it's not to look at my phone. At home, it's easy to see how plugged in we all are - scrolling the phone while watching TV, being distracted during conversations, etc... I'm far from perfect, but I'm trying. I recall a long time ago in a dysfunctional past relationship when conversations were reserved for when commercials came on. It infuriated me that I had chopped up chats when it was convenient - while muting the TV during commercials - and that was the priority over what I had to say. Now there are so many more distractions (and with DVR no commercial interruptions) that it's easier to alter our priorities connecting to a device and not to a person but the theory is the same.
I started unplugging on my days off and at night. I used to check my phone when Chris woke up at 1:30 am and again when my alarm went off. It was the first thing I did even though I had to squint to adjust to the light. Now it's plugged in and I don't look at it until I'm sitting at breakfast except to text Chris (who now leaves for work at 4 am). I've gotten used to waking up, stretching, starting my bathroom routine, getting dressed, and ready. All before checking my phone. If I'm not on call, my phone can wait. There are no texts, emails, tweets, Instagram photo's or Snapchat that are urgent.
It's difficult to wean off the comfort of devices. It's more difficult to open your eyes and realize the real problem isn't a device - it's us. There are wonderful connections right in front of us. We have control over whether or not we want to engage and yet we remain leashed to a device. It owns our time and can be detrimental to our relationships. I'm not anti phone or anti device. I loooooove GPS, music, podcasts, an easy way to be on call for work. I enjoy having the option of email and social media, texting is fantastic because I can get to them when I have a chance and it's short and sweet. Texting with Chris and the kids work great because I can touch base several times quickly without a huge interruption. It's just important to remember that it's the real people in front of you that you should probably be looking at.