Friday, May 18, 2012

Phones - our internal conundrum

I read an opinion column in the Times yesterday that a friend had posted on Facebook, and I quickly found myself "sharing" it on my wall with everyone. You might have had a chance to read it. The op-ed was about how our cell phones are getting in the way of good parenting. This is something I have been acknowledging for awhile, but seeing it in print really brought it front and center for me.

This girl is not going to lie, I am easily as addicted to my phone as the next gal, believe me. I don't find myself pining for it, but when it's around, I am obsessively checking it. It's almost like a brainwashing or a curse luring me to my phone to check text messages or see what the latest status is on Facebook. My talking time has decreased substantially since I moved to Germany though. I found myself on the phone so much when I lived in Virginia. Having a cell plan that had free minutes to those with the same cell carrier was a ticket for me to have full liberty to talk as much as I possibly could. This wasn't all a bad thing. It kept me in touch with those that I love, namely my mother and my sister and Big R, of course.

When little r came along, I noticed that my talk-time had to go down because he needed my attention, and rightfully so. Even today he is horrible about allowing me to talk on the phone. I don't do it much, and he despises it. He can be an angel all day and then unleash the furry the minute the phone touches my ear. To remedy this, I became an avid texter. Seriously, it's hard to believe sometimes how much I text my friends.

As horrible as it might be to face that truth, I can understand how we get this way, and why it can be difficult to stop. When little r was born, I was mostly alone. I'm sure this happens quite often to new mothers, and for me it was difficult. Big R was working incredibly long hours, my sister was excellent at keeping herself busy as well with all of her responsibilities, and most of my other friends were working. It's funny how we can let ourselves miss those social interactions especially when we are equally as busy with life ourselves.

Texting and messaging became my connection with the outside world. It was my way to not lose the adult in me or to share in my experiences with this precious new addition to my life. One of my closest friends in Virginia had her first baby within weeks of little r being born, and I think we kept our sanity primarily because we would text each other little tidbits all throughout the day - something to helps us remember we weren't doing any of this alone.

All that aside, I really despise how I let my phone own me. Don't you? It's almost refreshing when we go on these vacations outside of Germany and we're required to keep our cell phones turned off. Sometimes we are lucky with wi-fi in our hotel, but often we are not. It forces us to fall back into that world where people communicated in a different way. Not having our minds tied to our phones and the virtual world we have become so addicted to keeps us focused more on our travels and adventures. It keeps us from sharing things probably not worth sharing, and forces me to take pause and think through the parts of our adventures that everyone would love to hear about. Believe me, some of our adventures could create a three-page rant, that is much more fun and hilarious when widdled down to a short paragraph.

Next week little r and I head back to the U.S. to start two weeks of wedding mania. It's going to be an insanely excellent time, and I can hardly wait. While we are there though, my cell phone will be turned off. Except for the occasional wi-fi connection while we are at home, I'll be giving myself a much needed virtual vacation. I think my mind could use the cleanse, couldn't yours? Maybe it'll help me let go a little bit so I can recover from this "chatting" obsession. Or maybe not :)



  1. I use my cellphone incessantly. All my office and home calls are routed to it. But, unless the call can't be avoided (there are certain numbers/codes), I don't interrupt other conversations. I call them back when the conversation is over. Given that my phone is on vibrate, this tends to make the intrusions less so.