I don’t know what I’d do without my computer and my phone.
For many years, my social life has been framed in some significant way by the internet. When I lived in NYC, I met my husband and a number of other good friends through an internet message board. We all became friends in “real life,” and hung out together all the time.
A few years later, I moved to Florida and moved away from my sisters and a huge group of friends (both those I had met online and others I knew from college and elsewhere), so the internet – and my phone – became my lifelines.
Many of my friends and I keep in touch by reading and commenting on one another’s blogs and Facebook pages. It makes having long distance friendships so much easier.
I communicate online with my local friends, too. I am a member of a very active moms’ group, and we use Meetup.com to plan and organize activities and to post pictures. On the message board, we’ve discussed everything kid-related under the sun; we ask one another questions, share what’s going on in our families, or post about neat local attractions to visit or blogs to read.
My time spent online is my down time, my me time, and my time to interact with adults.
Then, there’s the phone. Right around the time I moved to Florida, my mother was being treated for lung cancer, and I was planning my wedding. I began to talk to her daily, and seven years later, we still speak on the phone nearly every day.
I have (jokingly) referred to my phone as my third child. I love it and I carry it with me almost all the time. I love how convenient it is: I have contact info, my calendar, my phone, my email, Facebook, Meetup, the internet and more at my fingertips, literally. I love that pretty much any info I need, I can get almost immediately.
And I kind of also hate that. Sometimes I think it would be nice NOT to have the information. Sometimes I don’t want to look up every bird on the trail, but just to look and enjoy. Sometimes I have to force myself to put it away.
One thing I try to be conscious of is using my phone in front of others. Generally, if I’m with adults, I want to enjoy their company, and they fulfill my need for adult companionship. It bothers me when I’m chatting with someone and she’s continually checking email (or something) on her phone. Still, I will often look for specific info on my phone when I’m with friends.
A more difficult challenge for me is not using my phone in front of my kids. If we’re playing at home together, when I get bored, my first instinct is to look for my phone — to check on the online Scrabble games I’m playing or to make a call. I sometimes force myself not to do this by leaving my phone in another room. I have gone so far as to set a timer: I will play with my kids for 45 minutes and devote my full attention TO THEM during that time.
It’s safe to say I am addicted to my phone. It’s a lifeline for me in some ways. It helps me feel in control, in the know, and sometimes safe. But I feel that it also controls me. I HAVE to see it, to have it nearby.
I think that this summer I will have some phone-free days. Sure, I will carry it with me, but I won’t turn it on. I don’t need to post those pictures to Facebook right this second (sorry Mom). I don’t need to check email 100 times a day. The world will keep turning.
Oh, hey look! It’s the world. Hello, world.
© Victoria Green and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2011