Goodbye Social Media
My wife and I had spent the last several weeks researching and discussing the harmful effects of social media (Facebook) and technology in general on many aspects of our health, more specifically, our mental, emotional and physical health. More importantly is how it is affecting our relationship’s health.
We found ourselves in the evenings after supper quietly sitting across from each other in our living room staring at our smart phones. We hardly say anything to each other as we peruse what interests us, tucked away in our own little worlds, speaking up only to share something or to ask a question that may have suddenly popped into our heads.
But in a hypocritical sense, we have criticized others from our table in a restaurant that are doing the same thing. We both have seen entire families sitting together with their faces in their devices when they should be spending quality family time. Maybe to them, that is quality family time. It sounds judgmental. I know, but we can remember a time long before the term “social media” even existed.
My wife and I met in 1980 while working together at Montgomery Ward in California. Our time was spent going to movies, going for walks, and nice dinners with each of our families. Mealtime conversation was pleasant and intelligent. There was nothing to distract our thoughts and our focus from each of us at the dinner table, save for maybe the TV in the other room, or the dinnertime music that my mother would frequently play during the meals. People interacted. Families talked.
We were married in 1982, and continued to spend our quiet hours together, interacting in various way. We started a family right away, and we enjoyed taking the kids outdoors to play as we did when we were young.
But then along came the video games. They were intriguing to the both of us. Atari was already out there, but it was soon boring. So, we left it by the wayside. But along came Mario and Donkey Kong, and then Tetris. We were hooked.
Then, VCR’s gave way to DVD’s and before we knew it, we were ignoring everything and watching movies and playing games. We realized then that we were headed down a long road, so we strived to have more outdoor time, and since we lived in the rural Midwest at the time, it was easy to find some fun nature-based activity.
But the kids grew up, married and left home. We were living in an empty nest. With the advent of social media and smart phones, it had become easier to stay in touch with the kids, send pictures back and forth and text with them without actually talking to them.
Not good. Watching three out of four grandkids grow up on a device held in the palm of your hand leaves you feeling incredibly disconnected.
Throwing Ourselves Back
We made a decision. We realized that we were so deeply intertwined into the world of technology, that we were losing our connection to reality. Our relationship was suffering due to lack of communication and personal interaction. Our relationships with our kids and grandkids was suffering for the same reason. We texted and emailed, but rarely talked in person or on the phone.
Our decision was to disconnect ourselves from technology as much as possible. We realized that to still function in the world we needed to have a certain amount of technology at our disposal, but at home, we have reverted back to the 80’s. We tossed our smartphones and replaced them with older style flip phones and use them minimally.
Then we had an old-fashioned land line telephone installed with an answer machine. If someone needed to call us, they used the land line. There were no more device-based electronic calendars and address books. We went out and bought the old-fashioned style planners with the calendars and address books combined. I even carry a pen and notepad with me now.
Up to this point we were using an internet-based television system to connect us to a variety of movie and television options. No more. We are now watching broadcast TV and going to the movie theater if we want to see a flick. If we want to watch a movie at home, we go to the DVD store together and pick one out. Just like the old days of VHS.
We still have the internet in our home. We still find ourselves needing to use the internet for emails and for business uses. It’s the way the world is, but we are changing our own little corner of it.
Our decision to throw ourselves back has been a boon to our relationship and family life. At first the kids thought we were weird. Some of my older friends from my youth are actually on board with the idea and are doing the same thing. I can’t believe how much stress I feel like has been lifted off of me.
If we sit back and think about it, social media is destroying our society. Our lack of overall human interaction is going to eventually crumble humanity. We will all be reduced to digital beings with no feelings or emotions.
Let’s not let that happen.
©2019 Del Banks