I made a commitment that I am having the hardest time keeping. It is so simple, the first time I wrote it down, I thought no big deal. Was I ever wrong! My commitment is to not text, check email, or use my phone, computer, or tablet from the time I pick up my kids until they go to bed. I realized this was something that I needed to do because I was taking the phone from room to room with me. In the kitchen for cooking, in the bathroom at bath time. How silly I thought. This is just a bad habit and what do I need to feel so connected for anyway?
I made this commitment in my accountability group and it inspired another member to make the same commitment. Neither of us was able to keep the commitment. We had similar experiences in that we went unconscious around the commitment almost right away. Another member pointed out something really interesting when she was giving feedback. She said that she had been thinking a lot about our connection to other people via our cell phones and other devices. In her view human beings want to be connected and so that desire can be both natural and positive.I had never looked it like that before and I agree it is nice to be able to connect with people we love and care about and also to be part of so many interesting conversations and sources of information. But at some point I think I crossed a line. Maybe it’s owning my own business and the fear that I might miss some important thing that I need to take care of or maybe it’s just conditioning. The sound of an incoming text or email just creates this impulse to know what’s come in right this second.
Whether it comes from a natural human instinct to connect, from fear of missing something, or it’s simply a bad habit, I can’t really say, maybe it’s all three and more. But when I’m with actual people, like my young children, at the end of a long day that they’ve spent the greater part of being cared for by people other than me, is there really a task, email, or person that deserves my attention more than they do? When I make precious time to hang out with the friends that I rarely get to see because life is just so busy, why am I checking my phone? Aren’t these the people that I should be focused on connecting with? It’s just a terrible habit and without mindfulness, and continuing to work on this commitment, I may find myself missing the experience of being with the people that are right in front of me, in favor of the little window in my pocket that let’s me see into a virtual world.