Digital Detox

Technology is a blessing on most days and then some days you wonder if you were better off with rotary phones. Yes technology brings you closer to the ones that are far away but does it also take you far away from the ones that are close?

Last night we walked into a restaurant for our ritual Friday night “empty your mind, fill your stomach” dinner. As I walk in, I see a couple, a father and his young son and two friends dining. I smile. It’s good to see people making a conscious effort to find time to be with their loved ones. But then I notice something else. The ever present distraction – the human invention called a smartphone. The device that connects you to people afar yet disconnects you from the people sitting across from you.

Every single person I mentioned above (with the exception of the child) was glued to their device – feverishly tapping away at keys, smiling at something they were reading, liking/sharing/forwarding posts on Facebook, all the time oblivious of the person at their table. For the most part it seemed everyone was ok with this arrangement until my eyes rested on the child. He couldn’t have been more than 4. He was sitting head bowed, moving food around his plate and forcing a morsel into his mouth every time his dad reminded him to eat – the only real interaction. He tried to engage his dad in some animated conversation only to get a few grunts in response. Dad was busy. The boy looked a little crestfallen.

I don’t mean to be judgmental. I can’t be. I am one of “them”! I have on several occasions in the past and possibly will in the future pick my phone over my companion. It’s not intentional but it is a learned and apparently now socially acceptable behavior. Often times I look up from my phone at my husband to check to make sure he is ok and notice him checking his phone. Yep, he’s good. I go back to what I was doing. What once used to be dinners filled with conversations about how our day was, who from work was driving us batty or sharing anecdotes have now been relegated to living vicariously through Facebook or sharing those stories with your friends and contacts not even in the room.

Time to make a change. Yes, the people in your digital life are still relevant and they are there for a reason and you need to cherish each one of them. But don’t forget to extend the same courtesy to the ones sitting by you. It’s not realistic to expect a 100% digital detox but you owe it to yourself and to your dear ones to put your phone on silent, set it aside and say “So tell me…how was your day?” or “You won’t believe what happened today!”. The older you will thank you for the memories you created with this one simple choice.

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