Recalibrate

Matthew,

I think “presence” is a great word for you. It is a grounding sort of word, one that requires an incarnation in the moment. Yes. That resonates with me.

I, too, plan to go off-line for the holidays. In fact, I hope to use the end of the year as a time to recalibrate. The fact is, I am failing at moderating my technology consumption. If my gluttony is out of control in any area of my life right now—it’s there. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I have an inordinate attachment to technology. My phone provides me with a constant temptation to multi-task, and I am failing at resisting that temptation.

How bad is it? I can’t make it through a thirty minute sitcom without looking at my phone. My husband has had to ask me not to check my email after we get in bed at night. When my alarm goes off in the morning, I read through all of my notifications before I get up. Even my own children have said to me, “Mom! Why do you have your phone at the dinner table?”  If my phone is out of reach, I feel panicky. 

I need a hard stop.   

So I’m going on a technology fast—no Internet, no email, no texting, no Facebook, no WhatsApp—for the last two weeks of December. These are things that I can’t actually function without in my real life, but since we are taking the holidays off to spend time with family, I can eliminate them for a time. To detox! To get the “poisons” out of my system.

During my technology fast, I will take time to re-evaluate my habits. I will pay attention to when I am “missing” those things and try to pinpoint what need I am trying to fill by reaching for my phone. And then I’ll try to establish better boundaries for the New Year.

Moderation is a challenging concept for a glutton like me, but I suspect that it’s not only gluttons who struggle to find ways to use technology without becoming consumed by it. We all have varying levels of need, interest, and love for our iPhones, and there are diverse reasons why these devices have become indispensable to us. But I fear they are robbing us of much of our humanity. I know you agree.

I’d like to say I’m looking forward to it, but the truth is, I don’t know if I will succeed. I’ve become dependent in ways I’m not even aware of, and as those dependencies are revealed, I’ll have to make a choice. Fortunately, I know my family will be supportive. Heck, they’ll be delighted. Perhaps I’ll give my phone to my eldest son for two weeks, just so I can’t cheat.

Our generation is the first generation to enter midlife with technology as our sidekick. We are so well connected  that we no longer know how to disconnect. We don’t have an example to follow in this area, and we don’t know how technology will both hurt and help us in this season of life. All the more reason to pay attention. I’ve long had concerns about my own level of addiction to technology. I’ve read books like The Shallows that only confirm those concerns. I’ve made meager attempts at finding a healthy balance, and I’ve failed. It’s time to recalibrate. To do whatever it takes to find a new “normal.”

And so, my friend, a very Merry Christmas to you and Sarah and the kids. Let’s connect in the New Year…and I’ll let you know how I did. 

Peace,

Jenn