1. I'm writing this on Monday and will schedule it to post on Tuesday. So if this appears while I'm in labor (I hope, I hope!), I didn't write it between contractions.
2. I wrote it during naptime (that point will make sense later)
There is a video blowing up my Facebook feed you may have seen called Look Up. It's nothing brilliantly insightful - a bunch of things everyone already knows and does nothing about.
But it's something we all need to hear. I've been mulling over a post topic in my head for the last week or so when this video started popping up and I thought it tied in perfectly with my post.
I have a confession to make: I spend a lot of time online.
The reason this is a confession is because if you walked through my apartment, you'd never know. Therapists say all the time to me, "Oh, I just noticed you don't have a tv - that's wonderful! I wish my family watched tv less, but my husband/kids/etc would never stand for it if I got rid of the television!"
There is no television in my apartment. No xbox or Wii. Neither my husband nor I own a smart phone. Nobody owns a tablet or e-reader. We do have an iPod shuffle (they don't have screens) and we each have a laptop with a dying battery (so we have to keep them near outlets). But neither of us have Twitters or Instagrams. We don't subscribe to Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus or Netflix. We have Facebook, I have a blog, he has a Linked In. Our DVD collection (not including fitness DVDs) takes up the equivalent of one bookshelf. We look like an ideal candidate for a family who is rarely staring at a screen.
But the truth is, we spend a lot of time staring at a screen. Tons. I hate it and I'm a big part of the problem. Between what's free on Hulu, Youtube, and the occasional trip to Redbox, we easily spend hours a day watching tv on the computer. Plus the time spent reading "32 Genius Camping Hacks" or "this bill passed that will make your life look like 1984" articles. Then there's the blog roll, the news sources, the email inbox. Matt and I call it the Internet Black Hole: you sit down to check the weather and get up an hour and a half later. I'll put Abigail down for a nap and pick up the computer and suddenly she's awake again. Two hours later, but it feels like just a few minutes. That's the Internet Black Hole.
You might think, "well, if you're only on it during naptime or after Abigail falls asleep, how bad can it be?" Well that's still four hours of time wasted online. And it's not just when she's sleeping.
An embarrassingly large number of times per day, I'm online while Abigail's having breakfast or lunch or playing with her toys. Or clinging to my leg desperate for my attention. Inside I start to feel guilty, but instead I usually push her away and say impatiently, "Just give me one minute of peace to finish this!"
At 1:50, the narrator says, "We're surrounded by children / who since they were born / have watched us living like robots / and think it's the norm." And it is depressingly true to see in my young daughter. You've surely seen it in your own children: the ability to manipulate the touch screen by the time they can isolate their own finger movements. The enraptured stare at the computer. The risking of life and limb to snatch an unwatched phone from the edge of the table.
Around 2:30, the video starts getting sappy enough to make a pregnant woman tear up. I particularly like the line at 2:51: "The time you don't have to tell hundreds of what you've just done / because you want to share this moment with just this one." Like when Abigail comes over and gives me a hug, leaves her head on my shoulder and looks up at me with her blue eyes. Part of me wants to take a pictures, post it online, see the flood of "likes" at her white-speckled eyes. But more of me doesn't want to move because the interaction fills me with such joy that I don't want to move and end it.
4:36 "Disconnect from the need to be heard and defined / go out into the world, leave distractions behind." On days when I have enough willpower to abstain from the computer, or at least regulate my time on it, I find that I am calmer and more patient with Abigail. My temper is better with everyone in fact. I'm more focused on tasks at hand and my head feels clearer. The house is cleaner faster and we're outside more. On days when I read during naptime instead of watching past episodes of Dr. Phil, I'm happier all day. Less irritable. Less stressed. Almost like when I'm on vacation, I feel like time slows down and I feel more connected to me.
I spend too many evenings sitting next to Matt while we both stare at our own computers. I spend too many days pushing Abigail aside so I can "just do one more thing." I get too mad too often at a page that won't load.
Life without Internet is not feasible in today's world and I don't think complete abstinence in the home is the best way to give my kids life skills, but I do want to have balance in my own life and pass that self control onto my children.
I don't know exactly how to start. I know that past resolutions (I'll only spend one hour online per day. I will only check Facebook one per day) have completely and utterly failed. But I need to figure out something cause what I'm doing now is not working for me.
What successful tips do you have to slow down Internet usage?
4:14: "Don't waste your life getting caught in the net / as when the end comes, nothing's worse than regret."