Recognizing the Invisible Tether

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These tethers are anything but invisible, but even the wireless world needs juice.

Although I have easily maintained my title of Clueless Hot Mess Champion for many years, my parents still talk to me at times about various issues that frustrate them in their own lives.  Recently, technology entered the issue arena, and I don’t mean the ‘Hey will you see why my router isn’t working?’ kind of problem.  I’m referring to their individual affairs with the internet.  Not with people on the internet.  Just The Internet.

My mother gets her feelings hurt whenever she and my dad are hanging out together and he gets lost in the world of Facebook.  My father, on the other hand, feels like my mother can’t be around him without having to bring Google into the conversation.

They don’t use these words, but what I hear them both saying is that they feel sad when the other person in the room might as well be anywhere else since they certainly aren’t focused on each other.  They are hurt and mad when that happens.  But more than anything, they feel lonely.

So I suggested to my father that maybe it would be nice for them to carve out a couple of hours once a week for a date night just for the two of them.  No friends.  No kids.  No phones.  He was very supportive of the idea of a date night, but responded with a serious hard pass when I added that they should leave the phones at home during those dates.  “What if … called???”  (… represents a list of people but only one warrants a must answer call and that would be my sister who is 11 months pregnant – possibly a little less than 11 months given that she is not growing a llama)

Never being one to accept no as a final response. I countered that they could leave their phones in the car and just let us know the restaurant name in case we needed to track them down if there was in fact an emergency or imminent baby human / baby llama birth.  Seems reasonable, yes?  Well I guess not because he adamantly refused any possibility of leaving the phone behind in any fashion.  On the contrary, he became pretty fired up at the mere mention of it.  It was like I was telling him to leave his life line to the world behind. Or his oxygen tank (that he does not have but probably could have used given that he was basically hyperventilating at the idea).

His excessively emotional reaction stopped me in my tracks.  I started to contemplate my own need to keep close my phones (plural), laptops (plural again), and other endless technological devices (innumerable).  I thought about how we (I) have become too accessible and too plugged in.

When my husband and I were hanging out later that evening, I noticed that we were two feet apart, but it might as well have been two miles.  We were “watching” a show on TV while we both tapped away on our phones.  TV, texting, news, games.  We went on and on like rats trained to endlessly meander a maze in searching for more cheese around the next corner.  It made me sad, and instantly I felt the loneliness, too.  I got up to look around the corner at my children in the neighboring room.  They were doing the exact same thing.  TV yammering away.  Tablets and phones in hand.  Actual human interaction nowhere to be found.

They were zombies, and I was the source of the infection.  I was Technology Zombie Patient Zero.  (But only in my house so don’t bother trying to drum up a class action medical malpractice suit.)

All of our wireless wonders were actually invisible tethers.  They were choking off our opportunities to connect with each other.  We were so busy staying connected that we became utterly disconnected.

I want to tell you that this had only happened once or that it was a very rare event.  I want to be the mother who didn’t let her kids zone out on tech while my husband and I did the same.

But I can’t say that.  Not honestly.

I have to forgive myself for that though.  I am tired.  A lot.  Tired to my bones kind of tired.  Life never stops and trying to keep up with it all wears me down.  Sometimes I  want to turn my brain off.  I want a few minutes of quiet.  A few minutes to not think.  A few minutes to not worry.  A few minutes to not do.

But that one moment truly jarred me.  How many minutes were we actually sacrificing to the tech zombie gods each day?  How many chances to enjoy being a family and being together were we losing?  The idea of the Tech Turn Off Challenge was born.  Thank you divine intervention.

Could I do what I had asked my father to do?  Could I pick a few hours a week and just walk away from the phones, the laptops, the work, and the noise?  And could I really push myself and do it for a couple of hours a day for a whole week?  It may be small potatoes to many, but to me, it was akin to asking me to remove my bra before I headed to the grocery store.  Not.  Gonna.  Happen.  I have yet to institute the Grocery Store Bra Removal Challenge, and I don’t sense that it is on the horizon either.  But I figured I could give the Tech Turn Off Challenge a go.

Honestly I wasn’t sure if I would be able to meet the challenge requirements (doubly ironic since I created the challenge myself), and even more honestly, I didn’t think that I would succeed.  Yet here I am.  I have survived a little more than a week with over twenty deliberately chosen prime time tech free hours.

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I believe that we are each face critical life changing opportunities in lives.  We reach these forks in the road, and we can go one way or another.  The choice you make will set you on a course that could impact your entire life.  It’s the red pill vs the blue pill scenario.  Are you willing to wake up to your reality or is it more comfortable to stay oblivious?

I pray that I am waking up again.  I can’t unsee the virtual world I have been lost in.  I keep replaying the zombie tech epiphany in my mind.  I don’t want to replay it in my reality, too.  I was wireless most of the time, but I was more tied down than I ever knew.

I love the way we can connect with anyone on the globe in an instant.  I enjoy seeing the countless fantastic everythings we can find in this wireless world – covfefe and all.  I am amazed at the wonders the internet reveals.  But I don’t want to see that while I inadvertently miss the amazing everythings that are in the same room with me.  That’s where the magic is.  That’s what I want to experience.  That’s what matters.  They are my original wireless wonders.  They are my world.

***MoJo***

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tether/”>Tether</a&gt;

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