Ahh, the perennial post about the evils of smartphones. Apparently, they are ruining our relationships and destroying our children’s minds because they don’t have the skills to cope with their use. Really? I find that line of thinking so strange. I quickly started to comment out of rage against such thinking and then stopped before I hit send. I copied it to a memo on my phone, added more in a couple of minutes, and then put it away to finish eating my breakfast and make something for my son before he left for work. I talked to them about what I heard and my reaction. They could see I had passionate feelings about it and told me they thought I might be overreacting. There are always going to be people like that, people that are afraid of new things, people that have a harder time seeing the future or coping with changes. “Let it go,” my young adult son tells me, “Focus on the positive.”
But here I am, an hour later, still upset. I decided to journal about it. Maybe it’ll be a blog post. Oh, who am I trying to kid! Of course, it will be a blog post!
I copied the initial response and shared it to myself from my phone so that I could have it on my computer. I can type better and edit easier with all my fingers. And here I am, thinking about it and wondering how to put my thoughts into positive words.
First of all, about 90% of my current friends I met online through Yahoo groups on the computer in the early 2000’s and on Facebook on my phone in the second decade. If it weren’t for those groups, I’d be a lonely mess. I’d have met far fewer people that share my interests and I’d never would have gotten the help I needed for my anxiety. Our whole lifestyle changed for the better because I was able to search for answers on the internet.
Second, smartphones made our education style way more exciting. While out in the world, we can search for answers on the spot. We can find friends to meet, places to go, food to eat, directions, and more information about the thing we are looking at and curious about at that moment. It has enhanced our lives in a million ways! And I can stay connected to my friends and family at the same time. My Mother-in-law can call me for help wherever I am. My husband can know when we’ll be home. My brother can share his life with us from the other side of the country. And my Dad can meet us for pizza any day. Smartphones connect us to people. That’s who’s on the other end of the phone. Real people.
And another thing…I think I’ll file this under “rants”…humans crave attention, connection to other people. Smartphones can give that to them. Children can and will learn to navigate the world with the phones by using them. They will do so much better than us because they grew up with them, just like we are better at computers than our parents because we grew up using them. Instead of their own family and the neighbors to associate with, they have the whole world at their fingertips. If your children are more interested in their phones than their family, then make your family more inviting maybe? Maybe connect with them via the phone and more. I text my sons from across the room. I text my husband when he’s out in the garage. I share funny things I find online. And when we eat dinner, sometimes one of them answers a message because there is a person they care about on the other end. Sometimes the phone will ring and I’ll look at it and decide whether it’s urgent or not. I don’t discourage that. Why would I? What if my son’s girlfriend’s car broke down or my Mom was headed to the hospital? Should I ignore the call for help because I’m having dinner with my husband?
Yes, we are still adjusting to the new media. We’re inventing new social standards. And there are crappy people on the internet too. But, overall, the world is better for smart phones. We are better people because we have them.
Smartphones are not ruining your relationships. YOU are ruining your relationships with your phone, just like you could with anything else. The objects aren’t doing it. You are. And we all were ruining our relationships before phones with sports, alcohol, hobbies, cars, books, tv, etc. Everyone has an escape mechanism. Don’t blame the object. Change your behavior.