Recently, my wife downloaded an app on our family cell phones where it can track where you are, can send messages, alerts and things like that. I found myself checking it and calling her to see “why are you in Rockland?” She mentioned something about her work, but it really made me angry. I was angry at myself for what felt like I was spying. Why did I care where my wife was on a Tuesday afternoon? Why did I immediately go to “is she lying” in my head? I absolutely hated that feeling. I don’t have any reason to “catch” someone doing something.
We also have a camera and alarm for our house. The camera shows our stairs and the street and catches the neighbor’s house as well. We got the camera because of an incident that occurred and honestly it has been a great up until very recently for our house, makes us feel safe. Well, recently the neighbors, who we knew very well sold the house. We didn’t know anything about these new neighbors but they did seem a bit shady. Up all hours of the night, no cars, and lots of people coming and going. I found myself watching the video clips every day to try and catch them doing something. I have not said one word to them and I am trying to catch them breaking the law or something. Conjuring up thoughts in my head about how bad they are when I don’t have a clue about their lives.
This past week my oldest daughter went away to a youth group camp with 400 other kids, ranging in age from 13-18. This was the first year she could go because last year during this week we were in San Francisco vacationing and watching my brother in law get married. So, this being her first year at a weeklong camp the wife and I were a little bit nervous. My daughter is an awesome kid, very well rounded, had friends and since joining the dance team at school has made a ton more connections. She has earned my trust completely. A trust I am sure she will bend and break a few times in the coming years, but for now, she is a GREAT kid. So great that I still have zero clue how she is related to me. How did she avoid becoming an insane person with me as her Dad?
One of the things she needed to do for the camp was leave her cell phone at home. It wasn’t allowed on the trip. I thought this would be awful for me. Drop her off on a Saturday and let her figure out this world for a week and pick her back up the next Saturday. Dropping her off at a camp where she was hanging out with TONS of people I have never met, tons of older kids who knew a little more about this world than my girl. But the week was great for me. I unplugged from her. I let her be, and I was able to spend some GREAT time with my youngest daughter and the wife. My youngest got to be an only child for a week.
When we finally got to pick up my daughter she was grinning ear to ear. She couldn’t stop talking about the fun she had and how she was 100% going every year she could. I asked her about her phone and she said that she didn’t even realize she didn’t have it. She was having experiences without having to worry about social media. All those interactions with her peers were genuine. No one was doing anything for “likes”. What a great feeling that must have been for her.
I was talking to a buddy of mine at work about the camera and the neighbors and what I should do and he told me “just stop watching the camera”. So, I unplugged myself. My mind isn’t going crazy. It isn’t created these insane scenarios in which those people are the devil. I’m back to sleeping at night, and living my normal existence.
While I do think technology is a good thing. I think that posting on Instagram or Facebook or whatever makes the world a little smaller, gives the people who aren’t “in your life” always a little view into what your world is like, but there is a point where unplugging for a minute recharges your batteries. You get to focus on your world, listen instead of talk, rediscover the things that make you who you are, and reinforce your belief that the people in your life are in your life cause they make you better, make you smile.
Unplug sometimes, it’s good for your soul. Find your tribe and help them recharge their batteries, remind them why they are important to you.