Growing up, I remember pulling that spiral phone cord till it looked like uncooked spaghetti, to get to the farthest corner of the kitchen floor where I could sit down and talk. I was not allowed to have a phone in my room and certainly didn’t talk past 9pm. I also remember my mother picking up the extension and politely telling me to wrap it up; I’d been on long enough. It is hard to imagine that I long for those days, but I do.
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I think the past 20 years have been nothing short of astounding. I encourage people to get on the World Wide Web and experience whatever their desire at the touch of a button. My concern is that while everyone is busy looking down, life is passing right by.
Last week, I got a call from an old friend who was hospitalized with an injury that almost caused the loss of a hand. It was not caused by an illness, disease or unavoidable accident. This person had been texting and fell down a flight of stairs. I suppose it shouldn’t matter how something happens because the pain is no less, but come on, that is just plain stupid.
When have we all become so important that we have to announce everything we are doing, feeling or seeing at any moment in the day? I have a news flash, we’re not. You’re not the first person to get up early, work all day, come home, cook dinner, do a load of laundry, get kids ready for bed and help with homework. People have had this routine for centuries and I guarantee definitely harder than the pain of waking up in a warm bed, going to a job that doesn’t require you risk your life, cooking with food that is safe to eat, using a washing machine and putting your kids to bed in a climate controlled environment that has electricity and hot water. Is it sinking in yet? Listen, lots of people have headaches. I don’t always need to hear about yours unless it comes with a funny hangover story. Unless you are curing cancer, put the phone down, it’s just not that imperative.
We are becoming a nation obsessed with receiving information from our hands. In the process, we are missing life. Many cannot even muster an original thought, resorting to reposts from others. Could technology be making us stupid? I see that it is responsible for social retardation. Here are a few ways I’m teaching my children to bear their own thoughts and use common sense again. Play along, if you dare.
RULE 1: No technology at the table
Last week, I was out to dinner with my family. There was a family sitting in the booth next to us. They each had a device in their hands, no one was looking up and there was absolutely no interaction between them. You have to make time to teach the art of conversation. There is nothing worse than trying to talk to a kid (or a grown ass person for that matter) who cannot put together a decent sentence or look you in the eye.
RULE 2: All technology is checked at the door when friends visit
This should be a time to talk, share stories, laugh, play music and gossip. Nothing gets my goat more than seeing bathroom mirror photos of groups of girls on Instagram from sleepovers. Parents need to get a grip on this. Stay off the damn thing when you’re at a function. Again, you’re input on a cute photo is not that vital (and it’s probably just a tweet about your friend who has a headache).
RULE 3: Put it away
I have daughters and it makes me crazy when I see them walking around with their smart phones in hand. I constantly remind them that no one likes a girl that is so readily available. Where’s the mystery? Why do you want everyone to know what you’re doing all the time? Would it kill the recipient to wait 30 minutes for a response to “What’s up?” I doubt “not much” contains the antidote. No man wants a woman who answers almost before he hits Send. What does that say about her? Your life needs to be more interesting than staring in anticipation at the palm of your hand.
RULE 4: Dial the number
Never decline or cancel an invitation/appointment via technology. It requires you to hear a live response. It requires empathy. You can’t experience that with a text. Your kids will think twice about telling Grandma & Grandpa they can’t make Sunday dinner when they have to hear Grandma’s disappointment.
RULE 5: Say no
Teach your daughters not to accept a date from a text. Teach your sons to pick up the phone and call a young lady, like a gentleman. iPhones come and go, good manners are timeless.