How long do you spend on your device or technology a day? How often do you check it? Are you using it now? What did we DO with all of our free time before smart phones and devices became such an integral part of our lives? I wonder at this little marvel that holds an enormous amount of personal information as well as the greatest thing invented in the past 20 years – Google of course. However, I am very aware that it has also started to control us, not us controlling it. Well, that’s my experience of it anyway. I remember the first phone that I had, it was an Erikson flip phone that only had a call feature and I was on a $5 a month plan! Wow! Wish I still kept that plan! I think I would have been about 21. In no way was it the coolest model, but I think about my daughters and wonder how their lives, their spare time would be different growing up without devices. I wonder if their development would be different. We will never know now, they are growing up in the Technological Age, an age that is moving so rapidly that we can barely keep up with the latest gizmos and gadgets ourselves.
As a child, we played outside, made cubbies, got dirty and ran through mud, made cafes and schools and read lots and lots of books. I have endeavoured to give my kids an amazing childhood by limiting the influence of technology in their lives and travelling where possible, but the reality is, I had that right taken away from me when my now, 16 year old was given a phone by a school friend as a 10 year old. In my efforts to return the phone and talk to the other parents, I was blocked at every turn. Eventually, when she did get a phone of her own, it was straight onto a smartphone. My kids just don’t know how to use a regular phone!
One of the hardest things that I have found in the past 16 years of parenting is that of monitoring technology use, particularly around social media and the internet. For many parents my age, we are the guinea pigs, if you like, as we are the first generation to parent social media. The problem, of course with that is that social media is like a brand new toy for us too. We are still setting out our own boundaries and limits with our own devices that we are really just muddling our way through the smartphone/social media/internet complexities of modern parenting. Perhaps that’s true of all parents, that we are just muddling through and pretending we know what we are doing in-front of the kids so we seem like the foremost authority when in reality we are still learning and growing into ourselves as well.
I did some energy work with a healer in Broome when I lived there a couple of years ago. She would clear my energies and build me up, and then with my arms outstretched, she placed my phone in my hand, almost involuntarily, I lost all strength in my arm, the phone felt heavy. It was the first time that I noticed any shift in energy with the device but in more recent weeks I’ve become very aware of how much time I spend on it, how often I check it and how often I get on to do something, get distracted and then lose another 45 minutes of my life. In an average 85 year life span, you have 31,025 days to share, love, create, lead and be, how are you spending your days? How are you spending your 44 million minutes of life? And of your life so far, how much have you wasted in worry and despair over things that don’t really matter. The older I get, the less anything really matters and the more each moment is an opportunity to settle in to the place of love that makes more sense than anything else that I’ve ever experienced.
I find that my use of technology in my life unbalances me, to the point where I become unstable, irrational and dare I say it, a little bit insane. The more dominant the device and apps and social media becomes in my life, the more I lose the connection with myself. But now, I feel like I have so enmeshed my life into it – banking, contacts, tracking my exercise programme, contacting my family on group chats, camera and photos and of course social media – that I’m not sure how to untangle myself from this virtual world. I’ve done all the basics, turned off notifications, limited times that I use and check, but there’s this nagging anxiety when I leave it behind accidently or don’t have it with me. I want to separate from my addiction to my device, but I think the key is not in restricting myself from it, but instead of filling my life back up with playing outside, making cubbies, getting dirty and running through the mud, making imaginary play spaces and genuinely enjoying cooking for my family and of course reading lots and lots of books! But as an adult, I also have other interests that I need to throw into my remaining 15,000 days or so left on this physical planet – yoga, meditation, friendships, my day job and hobbies, and of course my kids and writing.
I’m not under any illusion that my re-connection to the Earth and my life is going to be an overnight shift. But I am now aware of the disconnection from myself, my path and the Earth, and that will make it easier to move towards a much more balanced life on Earth within the Technological Age. I’ll start with something simple: rather than waking up in the morning and checking the time on my phone, I’m going to create time for meditation - by listening to a guided meditation on my phone of course!