I recently returned from an awesome girls trip to Cancun Mexico.
I had so much fun!
I expected to soak up some sun (which I did), drink a few questionable drinks (which I also did), sleep for hours (which I DIDN’T-GRRR) and spend some much needed time A-L-O-N-E.
My last expectation/wish was something I had really been longing for; time away from the craziness that seems to creep into the daily activity of life. Running from A to Z with stops at every letter in-between throughout every freaking day seemed to have become the norm, and I HATED IT.
You ever get so busy living life you aren’t actually LIVING?? That’s how I felt and feel.
Before I left I had done some research into the resort that we were staying at and it boasted about its free Wi-Fi and FREE international calling to the USA and Europe. I thought this was a fantastic perk and neglected to turn on any international coverage in my cell service plan. As I arrived at the resort and completed my check in and got settled in my room I pulled out my cell phone, tablet and chargers to get them linked up to the “outside world”.
Only, I had one problem.
It wasn’t working.
I tried to calling out on their service from the room telephone (ya know, that thing with the cord??) and it would never complete a call (except to room service, thank God-all was NOT lost). My cell phone only gave me error messages that said something along the lines of “Hey idiot, you are in Mexico and didn’t turn on international roaming. You are SOL, respectfully”
…I might be paraphrasing.
One thing that did work was the Wi-Fi, occasionally. I downloaded Viper from the Google app store. Only to find that it wouldn’t work without loading it with $, and my debit card wouldn’t work because…. Well, re read the above error message. So here I was. I could use Facebook (which didn’t help me reach my husband as he is one of the last hold outs) and I could email people. Email it was. I sent out two, one to Zach and one to my parents.
“I’m alive, no phone service here. I am stuck with email. I will touch base periodically.”
Email; while still cool technology has been surpassed by text messages, Facebook, instant messages, FaceTime, SnapChat, Twitter, Instagram, what else is there- I know I am behind. The ability to pick up your phone and reach anyone you need to within seconds is expected and if not instantaneously achieved sometimes a source of aggravation and annoyance.
And here I was, all of the sudden, not linked up to…anything.
I turned my phone off, left it in my room and walked about feeling half naked, or like I was missing a vital limb (don’t act like you don’t know what I am talking about).
With my eyes opened to the world outside of that 3 by 5 inch screen I discovered some things about myself and others around me. My initial feelings of panic were soon replaced with the feeling of liberation and that was soon replaced with a sadness and finally a rage within myself-at myself and society in general.
While I was so bluntly and un-expectantly unplugged from the world beyond email I took more time to “look up and smell the roses”. What I saw unfold around me gave me great pause. Everywhere I looked, kids were dragging around their Ipads, Nintendo DS’s, cell phones and even laptops. I would find them sitting immobile inside the main lobby of the hotel or sometimes camped out by the pool under an umbrella. But the location didn’t matter, they didn’t know (or care, it seemed) WHERE they were. Thrown into their own little world inside the screen of that damn electronic device they didn’t even look around and take in the beauty of the place they were in. I envisioned marching right up to them (and their parents for that matter-but they were just as distracted with THEIR phones they probably wouldn’t have noticed) and yelling “YOU ARE IN MEXICO ON THE BEACH!?!!?! GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS, GET UP AND GET MOVING!” The thoughts of Mexican jail deterred me, however and I kept the thoughts to myself (at least until now).
All the families I saw, sitting together-but never further apart. In my mind this is a serious problem. Dare I say, a tragedy?
I spent so much time thinking about anything and everything while I was gone. I had time to. And I honestly believe it was because I wasn’t constantly distracting myself with things that I realize now, DON’T EVEN MATTER.
I realized Facebook (my main social media of choice) does very little for me other than stress me out, breathe drama into my life and take me away from the things that truly DO matter-like my family.
How many times had I sat at the dinner table with the boys, sitting there but not present at all-my phone in my hand?
Does this look familiar to you???
How many times had I sat with Gray while he read his bedtime story only half paying attention while I scrolled through Pinterest for the latest recipe or craft idea I would never get to?
How many times had Gray tried to talk to me and I was too busy texting or Facebook Messaging back and forth with “friends” I only ever hear from when they need something or have a question about training or worse, diet?
Sucking the life out of me until I gave into what they needed, all the while I would be leaving my son-my TRUE heart cord waiting in the background until I was done?
I came to a decision in Mexico. I made a vow to myself and to a silent one to my boys.
I WILL BE PRESENT, NOT JUST HERE.
I WILL EAT DINNER WITH MY FAMILY, NOT MY FAMILY AND FACEBOOK, PINTEREST AND WHATEVER ELSE MIGHT DISTRACT ME.
I WILL PUT MY FAMILY AND THEIR NEEDS FIRST. MY CELL PHONE WILL BE OUT OF MY SIGHT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE-SO HELP ME!
I VOW TO NOT TRY TO STAY IN CONSTANT CONTACT WITH EVERYONE.
I found out I don’t need these things. Hell I didn’t even watch TV while I was gone and I haven’t started back since I came home either. (ok I admit Zach and I watch one show from 9pm-10pm-but it is together at least!).
But throughout the day I don’t sit and watch TV mindlessly…and you know what? I don’t miss ANY OF IT.
I haven’t LOST anything. ….unless Drama, stress and apprehension are things you would like to keep around (and some people do, you know who you are).
I realized I had used Facebook as a crutch of validation far too much and for far too long. Why does it matter so much what people say on Facebook???
It used to be that if someone sent me a Facebook message I felt compelled to respond immediately. I felt I OWED that to them and I always felt guilty if I didn’t get back with them ASAP. I became so annoyed with myself about it actually!
It’s FACEBOOK FOR GOODNESS SAKE-step away Liz.
I had actually gotten to the point of being a little bit bitter about it.
Most of these people don’t even say thank you!!!
It is common courtesy-you ask me a question, I took time to answer it, at least respond with a “thank you”, even if you don’t mean it.
I am not saying that I have completely shunned technology (obviously not…), but at least Facebook isn’t the first thing I check when I wake up in the morning!
I am finally taking steps to unplug and re focus my (and my family’s) life-and I truly believe, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Poor Gray has never had an Ipad and I don’t have any plans to get him one any time soon. He doesn’t have the latest gaming system or a TV in his room.
He DOES have one of those old first generation Segas with the awful graphics and buttons A,B and C on the control (don’t act like you don’t remember….) and he and Zach play OCCASIONALLY. I do allow him to play on the computer a little bit but it is time monitored… I still let him “veg out” in front of the TV but I try to balance it out with planned outside activities or gym time.
I don’t want him to be the kid camped out with his video games or Facetime on a beautiful beach in Mexico or in our own living room for that matter. And I don’t want to portray that example.
I obviously haven’t always been successful and I know there will be many more blunders in the future. But at least I have my head out of MY own ass now and can catch myself, correct myself and then explain myself to him.
I love the verse from Proverbs:
And I am putting all my eggs and faith in that basket. And While my unplug may have lost me a few annoying things at the same time I have gained so much more.
I noticed while I was away that since I wasn’t texting Zach a play by play of my day my emails became longer and even more loving. I realized I was writing letters (without paying postage thankfully) and I found I was enjoying it so much more.
I FELT something with each “letter”, instead of sending random texts or status updates constantly. I could describe a beautiful sunrise or an awesome meal and really paint a picture of the experience.
I have found I am more calm with Gray, probably because I am not trying to multitask between him and my phone.
I am ashamed to admit, he should never have to compete for my attention and I have made him. Super Mom…ya right.
I am more focused throughout my day and I am not nearly as stressed out. Maybe because I am not wrapped up in everyone else’s junk or letting others suck the life out of me for nothing in return?
We ALL have drama and stress inside our own lives and I am not trying to downplay that at all, but what I am trying to do is limit my (and my family’s)) involvement and exposure to it.
Gray deserves a Mom who is in tune.
Zach deserves a Wife that gives him complete attention and… I deserve a LIFE worth LIVING.
Ask yourself this, “how many times am I out to dinner with friends-never saying a word?”
“How many times am I sitting with my family….and my phone?”
“How much am I texting people, …REALLY?”
How many times has someone called you and you not answered but instead of calling them back you instead text them back? I am so guilty of this!
I understand sometimes it truly is more convenient but sometimes we just don’t want to interact. I think it is ok, until it starts running how we behave all the time.
There has been many times I had complete miscommunications with people over text messages that would have been cleared up in 2 minutes with a phone call.
This video really puts that in perspective and it is hilarious-watch it (away from small children)!!
Try to unplug a bit. Reduce the time you spend linked up to everything and see how YOU feel. I bet it is as freeing to you as it has been to me. Try calling people instead of texting them. Try writing a letter (or email) or go talk to your neighbor FACE TO FACE.
Basic face to face communication has already started breaking down in society. Most of the young adults and teens alike I run into don’t know how to hold a conversation without #hashtags and Emoticons.
People I don’t even know will text me about gym membership and I have always found this completely inappropriate but even more so now!
This is a true problem! We are more linked up than ever but we’ve never been so far apart. It is SAD and it is SCARY.
PLEASE STEP AWAY FROM THE SCREEN AND INTO THE SUN.
For Our Mental Health,