It is amazing to me how much technology has an impact on care. On one hand, computers and the Internet have allowed connection to people on the other side of the world. On the other, it is so sad when you are with someone and they are more connected to their device than they are to anything happening in front of them.
While I attempt not to be tied to technology at all times, it is crazy how difficult it can be. I may have the sound turned off and am not online, but I can be quick to grab my phone to take a photo or two of something I must capture. In the digital age there is no reason to be sparing with my use. After all, there is no cost to taking several shots…
Or is there?
A few weeks back, my family and I were out when we came across the Blues on Whyte celebrations. It was fantastic – great music, happy crowds, food and various booths. We stopped to take it in and had a blast dancing and enjoying. After some time my son told me he needed a snack, so we sat on the curb to eat. The funny thing was, his banana bread wasn’t a snack, it was a phone. Happy as a clam, this two year old was busy telling my husband and I “smile”, pushing “buttons” (chocolate chips!) and taking “selfies”.
Was it a big deal? No. My son has a great imagination and it was fun to see him and play along. Still, it was a reflection of what we are doing. In the midst of activity and community, we are often more focused on capturing the image than being present in the moment. That likely doesn’t just impact our family; it also changes the types of interactions we’d have with others who are out and about. It changes the world and makes it less connected.
Though I try to remain mindful of my technology use, I too have been guilty of using it without pause. I can take my phone to my room at night with the intention of listening to a meditation, and instead find myself caught up in replying to emails or checking my Facebook or Twitter feed. If I’m honest, I sometimes also use technology to ‘opt out’ of real life, generally when it is difficult, tiring, or uncomfortable. I tap into the abyss of connection to everything, instead of connecting to myself and my discomfort (have you heard Louis C.K. on this topic??).
I don’t think I’m at the stage where I need a NoPhone to stay connected with the real world, but I do need to remember that care happens in the here and now. Care is not through the lens of my phone or camera but in real engagement with one another. It wasn’t until after I managed to grab the banana bread photo, but I did put, and keep, my phone away. It gave me space to be present and attune myself to my needs and to the needs of those around me.
Is your technology helping you in caring for yourself and others or is it getting in the way?