I was waiting in the car for Jeff, sleeping kiddos in the back seat. That’s basically how it goes nowadays. We drive somewhere together, kids fall asleep on the way and then I sit and wait, because who wants to wake a sleeping babe? Not me.
Our destination that day was the Verizon Wireless store. Our phone contract was up and Jeff was prowling for a better deal. As I sat waiting in the car I passed the time as I normally do, trolling Facebook and surfing the internet for pointless information. And then what normally happens happened… my battery was about to die. So I turned my phone off and decided to watch people. That’s when I saw them.
Through the front doors of the store came a mother and her teenage son. He was probably 15 or 16. As they exited the store, the boy not once looked up from his phone. He followed his mother to their minivan, the entire time texting, Facebooking, gaming, whatever. He was so engrossed in whatever was happening on his phone that he bumped into his mother after following her to the drivers side of the van. Then he looked up slightly confused, realized his error, turned around and went right back to the phone. He managed to make it to the right side of the van, get in, buckle up and not once look up from that danged phone. The mom starts the van and drives off.
And in an instant I saw what could be my future. And it scared the crap out of me.
I got a smart phone when we moved to Duluth… because Jeff was getting one and while I didn’t want to get ‘sucked in’, I wanted one too for reasons I can’t really remember. I do remember someone asking me what apps I would download and my answer was not many, I don’t want to get attached. Well, it just so happens that you can get sucked in and attached even with minimal apps.
As the two years unfolded since the introduction of the smart phone into my daily life, I found that I become more and more attached to that thing. It was the first thing I reached for in the morning and the last thing I looked at before going to sleep at night. If I couldn’t sleep, heck, I’ll just read the news, check Facebook, check my email.
You know when you get to the point when you just NEED to do something, the draw is so strong that it’s a fight to not give in? That’s what the phone became for me. Worse, there would be times that Ava would say “Mama, watch this! Mama, look at me! Mama! MAMA!!!” And what am I doing? Looking at my phone.
Seeing that 15 year old boy that afternoon in January woke me up to what my reality could be in 15 years. My kids are learning everything from me, including how important a gadget is. I do not want my kids thinking an electronic is the most important thing, the most exciting thing. Nope. I don’t want that at all.
So instead of upgrading the smart phone, I told Jeff I wanted to be taken off the plan. What did I want instead? I wanted as old school as possible… a land line. So a few weeks ago, the phone man came by, messed around outside for a while and left us with a very grounded phone. Jeff dug around downstairs and found a 1993 relic, brought it upstairs and plugged it in. It’s black. It has no bells and whistles. It has a cord… my phone is mounted to the wall with a CORD. I didn’t even want cordless. When Jeff first brought the phone upstairs, Ava and Oakley were completely fascinated. What is it!?!? How does it work??? The first time it rang it scared the pants off them.
I still have a mobile phone for texting and emergency calls while out and about, but I no longer have the internet at my fingertips. It’s been an interesting transistion. There are times I’m totally annoyed that the smart phone is gone… like the other day when I had to go somewhere new and I had to dig out the GPS… THE GPS! That thing felt like a dinosaur. Google Navigation was so much easier. Or like today when I was at the store and was trying to find Gorgonzola cheese. What the heck is that?!? I didn’t even know what it looked like. Before I would just whip out the phone and google it. Not anymore.
Here are the positives though… I feel less trapped during the day by a vise that had gotten the best of me. I am more present with Ava and Oakley. They no longer see my face checking a phone screen 10 times a day. They are learning how to DIAL a phone. Ava is learning how to properly answer a phone… kind of. Instead of saying “Hello?” she picks up the phone and says “Who is it?” and then says nothing… unless it’s Daddy. Then she’s a chatty cathy.
Anyway, I wish I had stronger willpower, but it appears I don’t. I wish we still lived in a simpler world, but we don’t. I hope in 15 years, my kids don’t follow me to the wrong side of the van, face stuck in a phone.