Between Two Worlds – Internet vs. Home

This calls for a disturbing staged photo.  :P  Look, the baby is an excellent actress - I didn't even ask her to make that perturbed expression!

This calls for a disturbing staged photo.  The baby is an excellent actress – I didn’t even ask her to make that perturbed expression!  😛

One of my ongoing battles is with smartphone addiction.  You know, compulsively checking the iPhone to see if there is anything new.  Getting lost reading articles and digging deeper into pointless websites until 15, then 20, then 40 minutes have whizzed by with the phone still in my hand.  Answering “uh huh” mindlessly to my kids without making eye contact, because I’m presently making a comment on Facebook or replying to a text.  Those kinds of things.  Maybe some of you can relate.

I hate it!  But no matter how many times I have tried to kick the habit by deleting the apps I check most, or giving myself limits, or trying to leave the phone in one spot all day…it always comes creeping back.  For a couple of days I’ll succeed, and then I start making excuses.  “Oh, they’re watching TV right now, so it’s okay.  I’ll just read my news feed and then put it away.”  Next thing I know, it’s living in my pocket again and being pulled out too many times a day.

Have you seen that government ad that portray nicotine addiction to a tiny little bully man who bosses a teen around and drags him outside for a smoke?  It’s weird enough to make you snicker, but also uniquely disturbing, and it hit a little too close to home when I saw it, even though I’ve never had a clinical addiction.  Sometimes the siren call of the internet can be a little bit like that miniature bully.

I considered ditching the iPhone for a basic phone, but my husband reminded me that it’s an invaluable tool in this day and age.  It’s my GPS.  It’s my line of communication.  It’s my Bible (no, literally!  I mean the Bible I use most is on there, in app form).  Of course I could find alternatives to those features if I didn’t have the iPhone.  But ultimately, it’s not the tool that’s the problem – it’s the way I use it.  Technology isn’t evil, but like any good earthly gift, it can be used for sin.

There are many blessings and benefits to this age of instant information and communication, and smartphones and ubiquitous technology aren’t going away.  People often wax poetic about the “good old days” before these things were everywhere, but the reality is that this is the world now.  We can retreat like the Amish, or we can adapt and build a brilliant, beautiful life that includes technology – in its proper place.

 

Sucked Into Another Dimension

Spending all day with one foot in the internet is like juggling my time between two different worlds – the real world, and the digital world.  And sometimes, it feels like that single foot is actually in the real world, while the whole rest of me is on the other side.  (Pondering these competing worlds has inspired some interesting thoughts for the next draft of my portal fantasy sci-fi trilogy!)

As a mom of small children I’m especially tempted to be bored or frustrated with “real life” and seek digital life for something, anything more interesting than being cooped in the house with two crazy toddlers, or stuck on the couch nursing the wee one.  Whenever a dull moment comes up, I’m likely to pull out the phone and get sucked in.  It makes me so snippy!  That is the part I hate the most.  When I’m busy peering through the portal into that ever-changing, constantly-updating digital landscape, I start to see my own precious children as distractions – instead of the other way around, like it should be.  And then I get unjustifiably angry to have my Very Important Comment or Extremely Crucial Reading Session interrupted by a squabble, an accident, or a mess I have to attend to.  Being distracted by Internetopia, I also miss a lot of crucial things, like “who started it”, and whether the mess was an accident or intentional misbehavior…important things for a mom to know in order to disciple her children properly!

My family should be my first priority, not Facebook or baby name blogs, or Instagram photos, or anything else I could find by looking into a screen.  It’s not that an occasional escape or distraction is wrong…but I have to ask myself, if I’m constantly looking for moments of escape, what am I trying to escape from?

 

Your children only have one childhood.  Make it memorable. – Maria Shriver

I came across that quote this week and it shocked me into contemplation.

These babies only get one childhood!  They are only little for such a short time, yet this short time will shape their entire lives.  I’m responsible for the majority of that shaping.  I’m the only mom they get!  Having had a vibrant, memorable, wonderful childhood myself, I was sickened to think of how empty our days often are – real life hollowed out by the spaces where I am peering through the portal instead of engaging my tiny ones and shaping their lives with joy.  And how many times do they feel like they are competing with a device for my attention?

I can only be in one world at a time.

Few things we can do in this world are so well worth doing as the making of a beautiful and happy home. He who does this builds a sanctuary for God and opens a fountain of blessing for men. – J.R. Miller

So today I am embarking on yet another attempt to curb my smartphone usage down to where it should be, with my eyes focused on the goal this time instead of on human effort.  Rather than escaping at any opportunity, I’m leaving my phone plugged into the speaker system for fun music.  I’m taking initiative to create memories and build things here in this “world” of home: relationships, block towers, Lincoln log houses, Lego constructions, new experiences, joy.

Here is where God has put me, and this is my most important mission.  The internet is a fantastic thing, and great for staying in touch with friends and family, blogging, learning new stuff, and the like.  I can’t and won’t throw out all the good digital things along with the dirty bathwater of selfishness.  But here with my children is where I’m most needed – physically and mentally – and entirely irreplaceable.

The internet is a nice place to visit, and often.  But, really, I don’t want to live there.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13 (ESV)

Can you relate to being pulled between two worlds?  Did you have a memorable childhood?  How do you create one of those for your own children, if you have them?

 

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7 Comments

  1. This is probably because I like to be old-fashioned, but I just don’t do anything – other than GPS and the occasional once-a-week text, on my phone. I stick to my actual computer, so it’s less tempting to be on it all day long when I have to go sit in front of an object. I don’t carry it around in my pocket. I found browsing and commenting on a phone to be tiresome, annoying, and tedious. But that probably helps me limit it.
    I also confine my online time to Facebook and the occasional email too. I haven’t added Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media. I also don’t read blogs – unless you post them! That way it’s only my few minutes on Facebook every so often, or a nice chat with you when they’re napping or asleep for the night. I know I’d get sucked in if I added more stuff. But all I do online is that. So that helps too. People keep telling me I should get on Instagram or look at Pinterest more than once every 6 months, but I know I couldn’t manage it.
    BUT. Before I start sounding like I have it all together: My girls also still nap for 3 hours, so I get a huge chunk of time to do my own thing. I’m wondering how I’ll handle less time when they’re sleeping. I will definitely be coming to you for advice then! It’s always a good thing to think about.

    Reply
    • Do you have an iPhone, though? I find it super easy to browse and comment on my phone, so that makes it more of a temptation to me, personally.

      I don’t do a lot of social media, but I do Facebook, Instagram (I follow very few people, so it doesn’t update often and takes very little time to check), and some blogs, most of them related to faith and writing, which I find instructive and edifying to have fed to me every day. Even then, I don’t read every article that goes through my blog feed, only the ones that catch my interest. I don’t feel like my social media connections are excessive, but my checking of those few social media outlets IS excessive.

      Reply
      • Oh interesting.
        Nope, no iphone. I’m anti-Apple products. My husband works for Google, remember? I’ve got an Android. 😀

        Reply
  2. Yes! I can relate. Thanks for sharing this. And that picture is awesome…staged and all. 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks, Jennette! I was disturbed by how much this picture reflected my daily life…baby off at the side, phone in hand instead. Just TAKING the picture was motivating to me to change my ways. 😛

      Reply
  3. netraptor001

     /  May 24, 2014

    Goodness, I have the same problem. I do t know the answer, other than acknowledging you have a problem is the first step toward beating it! I write a lot on my iPod. I figure, if I’m going to have it in my hand, I can tap out a paragraph or two.
    I also trade off. I make sure the kids’ love tanks are full–via reading aloud, a bit of school or whatever–and when they’re off playing, I reward myself with some internets. Now that they’re bigger, life is a lot less boring and I have less iPod time.
    Really, if you turn the addiction around into an opportunity to write, that useless feeling becomes accomplishment.

    Reply
    • I agree, filling up their “love tanks” is important – making sure they are the priority and not getting the dregs of mama’s attention. And also keeping them active and busy is crucial! When so much of my time is taken up by the internet, *I* get less done, and I am less able to think of interesting things for them to do, so they get stir crazy. I’m never bored because there’s always something out there on the web to look at! So now that I’m using my phone less, *I* get stir-crazy along with them and initiate interesting things to do together, like make cookies, play outside, or paint. 🙂 Life is more fun for everyone this way!

      Reply

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