The one thing that drove me more insane with my ex-husband’s behaviour when we were married more than anything was that he made me feel like I didn’t matter. And some of that feeling was due to his phone etiquette. If we went out for lunch when the boys were at school, it would only be a couple of minutes into sitting down, and his phone would ring, he would check his email and have to respond immediately or he would be blatant enough to initiate a call. The worst was when he left the table to talk to ‘whoever it was’ like it was something private he didn’t want me to hear, but he would say that the restaurant was too noisy so he had to go outside and hear the person. I always felt lost as to why we were out, why I was being ignored and why life couldn’t stop to enjoy each other without work or kids in the way. Really, what can be so important that you miss out on spending some rare but valuable one-on-one time with your wife? The thing is, he’s not the only one.
Then I saw the 10 year olds doing something similar the other night… two of them had their own iPhones, and two had their iPads. Occasionally, they would all grab them at once and just not talk to each other. Other times, they all tried to contact the same friend in Malaysia to Skype with them, essentially trying to include this other boy in the party… which was sweet. Luckily, it was 80% of the time that they were actually interacting together, not on their phones and tablets. It’s something adults should look at and learn from, as I’m sure adults have the statistics swinging the other way.
So why are we so obsessive that the people outside our current world – the ones we can touch, hug, kiss, love – aren’t being treated with the respect that they deserve? Yet the people on the net, our phone or even a stupid website where we can live vicariously through other people’s lives, has become more important to us? Do we need to have a good look at our habits and see what we can change?
I know that I’ve made some changes… I’ve turned my phone on to silent between the hours of 10pm and 7am, so I don’t get the annoying beeps of emails coming in, late night messaging, or game plays when I need to sleep. I refuse to have my phone or computer near me when I spend time with my boys if it’s at home. When we go out, it’s on silent and I only pull it out to take photos of a memorable time. But then they know, that sometimes I do have to catch up with work and I just need a half hour of quiet time while I answer emails, phone calls, etc and they do the same with their iPads. However, I know that sometimes I might have an indulgent play of a game or Facebook check if the boys leave me to go to the toilet at a restaurant and I get that horrible feeling that my ex used to do, of feeling ignored and alone, so I find comfort in checking my phone.
It just seems we are so reliant on our phones these days… When the boys and I were travelling around Europe, it was a breath of fresh air not having phone/email/internet contact with anyone for the 5-7 hours we were on the road each day. The phone was only good (actually amazing) as our Sat-Nav and for taking photos of all the magical places we were driving through.
The problem is that, as we vicariously live through other people’s lives because it’s at our fingertips, we feel like whatever we are doing isn’t good enough, so we find escapes through our phones of feel good anecdotes to push us through the boring moments, when in reality, if we used our imagination, we could actually be making some of those feel good moments for ourselves if we stop worrying about what the rest of the world is doing.
Make some conscious decisions, switch off the phone and enjoy what you have around you.