The other day I found myself thinking of the days of dial-up Internet connections. You went online, did your thing, and then went offline to go on with your day. As a result of the intermittent connection you didn’t have the constant interruptions. Your email wasn’t constantly pinging, your Facebook contacts weren’t constantly demanding your attention…when you were online, you were online, but when you were offline your time was your own once again.
It is easy in this modern age to lose track of time with the constant demands of others. Instead of being present with your family and friends, we stare at our phones as we text and communicate with everyone but the ones we are with.
This needs to change.
Now that my daughter is working at a public job we are no longer able to spend as much time with one another as we have in the past. Our interactions are crammed in between her school, her work, and her studies, so it has become much more valuable. At first I didn’t realize this but when my daughter came home after a stressful day at school I knew what had to be done. I messaged my friends and told them that my daughter was off for the evening and I needed to spend time with her. I then shut my computer down and did just that. We sat and talked for hours, eventually settling down on the couch to read books. Not talking by that point, just enjoying the company of one another as we did our own thing.
Of course I was hit with a bunch of messages when I went online this morning but that’s okay. My daughter was more important and I gave her the time that we both needed to reconnect.
I went to sleep thinking about this drive we now have to be constantly online. This pointless need to check our Facebook fifty times a day and to converse online with everyone but the person we happen to be face to face with and it disturbed me to realize just how far I’ve fallen. Instead of spending time with the person I love the most I spend it online doing pointless stuff.
The thought made me so angry that I was tempted to cancel my internet on the spot. However, I realized that the problem isn’t with the Internet, it is with me personally. It’s not the fault of the Internet that I spend too much time online any more than it is the fault of food that people overeat or the problem of alcohol that people become alcoholics. The problem is with ourselves and a lack of setting limits in our lives.
So this is me, setting another limit in my life. Just like I only eat when I am hungry (and stop when I’m full) I am only going to use the Internet to check my emails and surf occasionally. Instead of being constantly online I will go on, do my thing, and then return to my peaceful offline existence.
For the record I’m not sure how well I will manage this. The hardest part will be managing the expectations of others but it is something I need to do in order to reclaim my life.
Will you join me in this new goal?