“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!”
And I’m not talking about Benji sleeping badly all of a sudden, although that’s a reasonable guess. More on that waking nightmare later.
The Seattle Times has an interesting article about cell phone use while walking. Apparently using cell phones, and especially texting, while walking presents a serious risk:
Researchers, observing pedestrians in Seattle, found that nearly one in three people crossing the street at high-risk intersections was distracted by use of a mobile device.
Texters were four times less likely to look before crossing, obey lights or cross at the appropriate place.
They also spent more time in the intersection, by nearly 2 seconds, on average.
…The Consumer Product Safety Commission said more than 1,100 people wound up in hospitals or emergency rooms last year as a result of injuries that occurred while they were using a mobile device while walking — likely an undercount, experts said, as patients are reluctant to volunteer the information.
Relating to that article, here’s what I see and don’t like in my life: I’m playing with Benji and check my phone real quick for no reason. Oh, an email, I’ll just read that, also real quick. Or ding! notification. I’ll just glance at it real quick, back in one second. I’m thinking about something and I wonder… and check Wikipedia, because I can. I’m feeding him and I’m bored (this happens constantly) so I message Ian.
Two things about this:
- Since when is an email, or any phone message, more important than my son? If it’s an email or text, 99.99% sure it’s not to be time-sensitive (if it was, the sender would call), so no need to drop everything. Seriously. Plus, a bunch of “real quick” breaks add up to substantive time I’m ignoring Benji during his (relatively short) awake time — and I’m ignoring him in favor of totally unimportant but instantly gratifying communications. Half the time it’s just a spam email that I end up deleting anyway. What a dumb waste. I think sometimes I feel so tired of Benji, of doing all those mommy things, that it provides a quasi-legitimate excuse to take a break. Really if I need a break, I think I need to just let him play by himself while I have a cup of tea or a snack.
- It distracts Benji, too! He finds the bright screen really fascinating, way more interesting than his bottle or the ring or wire ball or dingle duck or Mr. Teddy. I don’t want him learning what we’ve already learned, that technology provides a little Pavlovian endorphin hit every time we use it. I want Benji to explore the world as babies always have, through touch and taste and sound as well as vision. His job is to figure out how his body and the world work, not to be entertained. Bright flashy lights and exciting noises are fun, but are far from what I’d like him to be learning at this stage. Right now he focuses so intently on his task — say, grabbing the wire ball — and you can see him building neural connections as he does it. Then once he catches a glimpse of the screen, bam! he forgets the ball. He wants to gaze wide-eyed at the thing that makes light and noise while he passively spectates.
I don’t think I’m a Luddite; I like my smartphone as much as the next person. It’s been a huge boon since Benji was born, allowing me to blog and email without turning on my PC. But I think in the six months since I’ve had the phone, I’ve become increasingly dependent on it to mediate my interpersonal interactions and I’ve allowed it to become too much a part of my everyday life. I’m not as engaged in the physical world because the digital one seduces me away so easily.
It’s handy to look up how many moons Saturn has* while feeding the baby, but honestly, most of my smartphone use is totally discretionary, unnecessary, and too big of a distraction from the important job of being mommy to baby.
* Either thirty-one or sixty — another danger of the internet! I trust NASA. Also, another cool space picture, just for fun.
2 thoughts on “Living Half Awake”
I know what you mean. These issues apply to most of us in some way or another.
You are brave to step into this type of reflective thinking. Tedium and boredom aren’t necessarily bad. I find that I am way more likely to hear God’s still, small voice when it is not competing with Google’s frantic, loud voice.