When I first watched this viral video, I was speechless. My heart sank and I felt as if I had failed at the simple act of enjoying life and the natural beauty that surrounds us. Was I isolating those that I love in favour of technology? Were my days wasting away amongst a sea of hash tags, likes and retweets?
Ironically, the video has had 2 million Youtube views, and has been shared half a million times on Facebook, with 1.6 million likes and almost 300 comments (most of which are from people who are defending their dependence on social media platforms). A pretty successful social media campaign if you ask me.
The introduction to the video states that “children are growing up in a world where they don’t play outside or communicate with their friends”, which I think is a little over exaggerated. Perhaps it’s just me, but my children don’t spend their time looking at their phones and interacting on social media, because they don’t have phones. My children are playing outside, engaging in imaginative play and getting their knees grass-stained just as I did when I was their age. And while yes, they may have their allotted times playing games on my smartphone, it is balanced and closely monitored.
And while I’m sure they will fall into the same technology-dependent habits as I have when they reach their teen years, I’d like to think that I will be able to teach them to do so in a healthy and balanced way.
While I’m aware of my reliance and unnatural attachment to my smartphone, I’m also aware of the benefits I’ve seen from engaging in the digital world of today. I’ve made new real-life friends through Twitter, Facebook and this little ol’ blog. I’ve reconnected with friends from my past that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. I’ve discovered new and effective ways for businesses to connect, share and grow through content marketing practices, and I’ve rediscovered my passion for writing through my interactions in this digital space.
I agree that we’ve become too comfortable with “looking down”. I too would much rather spend a dinner with friends interacting face to face, making eye contact and listening to each other’s stories. I would love to spend evenings with my husband sipping wine and sharing jokes as opposed to sitting on the couch side by side with our laptops. I agree that my habit of looking at my phone in the morning before I’ve even rubbed my eyes or greeted my husband with a good morning kiss is a bad habit.
But I don’t blame social media, or technology, or my iPhone. I blame only myself. Because I need to remind myself to keep it balanced. There are times to indulge online, and there are times to turn off my phone. Balance is key. I don’t need to turn off my phone, look up and walk away from this world of technology that we are so fortunate to be a part of, I need to enjoy it – in moderation.
And my children – I’m pretty sure they’ll look back at their childhood and remember moments like these – all captured through my iPhone might I add.