I just got a smart phone last week.
I know, only half a decade behind seemingly every other person in the country.
I’ve only downloaded one app for it (Instagram) and I haven’t really used it to surf the net.
Guess I just don’t see much point in using my phone for things other than calling and texting people.
When I was in the store, the employee was trying to find ways to up-sell me.
They tried to talk me into a tablet, but they couldn’t list anything I could do on a tablet that I didn’t already do on my computer.
They asked me what my hobbies were, and when I answered “taking walks and playing board games” they couldn’t figure out how to make any more money off me so they finally let me leave the store with my new smart phone and nothing else.
My husband and I are different in this regard. While I had to be pushed into upgrading my plain ole dependable dinosaur phone after two years of faithful service, my husband is generally eager to jump on board with new technology as it comes out.
For me it is all about frugality and practicality.
I also put a lot of stock in whether a particular choice will greater or lesson my foot print on this world.
So when something new comes out, I generally don’t care. Most of the time I’m not even paying enough attention to notice the advertisements for it.
When something of mine breaks, I usually try to fix it. If it is beyond repair then I might buy new one, so long as I feel like I’ll actually use it frequently and so long as it doesn’t cost too much.
Case and point, I’ve had the same ipod since I was 15 years old. I changed the headphones on it once in all that time. Besides that I take care of it so it works just as good as the day I bought it. I’ve never felt the need to upgrade to something smaller or with more memory, although I admit I’ve gotten pressure from peers to do so. I bought it because at the time I had no computer, no tv, and I wanted a way of listening to music while cleaning and doing school work. Now, over a decade later, if my ipod broke I probably would not feel the need to replace it because I could easily listen to music on my computer instead.
My way of life isn’t backwoods with no electricity. But many people treat me like it is. “How could you survive without a smart phone?”
My husband and I view technology very differently. When his Xbox 360 got the red ring of death a few years back, he never bothered to send it back to the company for repair/replacement, he simply went out and bought a new Xbox without a second thought. The broken one sat in our closet for years, untouched. When we already had a fully functioning computer meeting our family’s needs, he bought a new one because it had more power.
Of course, it isn’t all about gadgets, its also about people. Technology changes our interactions with family and friends.
I have Facebook friends list of just over 30 people. I can tell you something about everyone on my friends list. Their children’s names and ages. Their favorite tv show. What they wanted for Christmas when they were 7.
The people on my friends list are just that- my friends. There isn’t a single one of them that I wouldn’t happily meet up with in real life for a coffee.
Meanwhile my husband recently decided to clean up his friends list. He went through and unfriended about 200 people, and his list is still in the triple digit numbers.
I’m not saying that more friends is a bad thing. If you legitimately have 700 people who you adore, who you would love to get together for coffee with, then more power to you! The person with that many genuine friends is a rich person indeed.
That wasn’t the case for my husband though. His friends list was made up of strangers, associates, friends of friends of friends. All people who had a window into our lives because they had access to his private Facebook profile.
I know my husband isn’t alone on this. In fact, I would say my husband isn’t as disconnected as many of the people we know. People who buy new tvs just because something bigger or with more clarity came out, even though they already bought a new tv last year. People who have 700 Facebook friends but can’t remember the last time they invited someone over for dinner.
I am proud of my husband though because instead of turning a blind eye to these harmful behaviors and falling deeper into the pit that is this disconnect from humanity, he has realized his own past mistakes and is actively fighting against the habits he has formed. New gadgets are purchased based on need. New friends are added based on actual friendship.
Today he is even watching the Super Bowl with other people. In real life. In the same room. He hasn’t done that in years.
I write about this for one simple reason: our children.
Not just mine, but yours as well.
Because it isn’t enough that we limit their screen time. It isn’t enough that we get them outside to play everyday.
We have to lead by example. We can not expect our children to make any healthy choices for themselves that they have not seen us make for ourselves. If we want to raise children who are frugal then they must see us ignoring the advertisements for the newest gadget. If we want to raise children who are engaged in the world around them then they must see us as active participants in our own lives. If we want to raise children who are good friends to their peers then we must let them see us having positive real life interactions with our friends.
Our attitude towards technology now will set the tone for them as they enter the world. The best chance they have at a healthy relationship with technology, is if they see us having a healthy relationship with technology.
We must remember that these smart phones are meant to be a supplement in our life. Technology is useful and can add richness to our life experiences. Technology is not the focus of our life, not the source of our happiness.