Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Put It Down and Step Away Slowly.

I'm on my phone a lot. We all are, but it's really starting to hit me just how much I'm holding the damn thing. I'm no longer at a computer for 8+ hours a day, so my work is in my hand until I sit down to write a full piece. There are emails to answer and texts to respond to and calendars to update with the deadlines created from those texts and emails, plus Facebook messages for those who don't text or email, then back to the calendar. I talk to Sevigny pretty much all day every day via Google Hangout, and that's not going anywhere so long as we both have fingers and brains. Then there's this clock gobbler (h/t Stephen Colbert) of a thing, Social Media. My thumb goes to that F button for the app when I'm trying to check the weather or my calendar. It's a muscle memory reflex of an addiction. I find myself reading while telling myself to turn it off and I answer, "in just a minute." WHY? What on earth is so pressing that I can't go get my own shit done? "Hang on, there's a think piece about that millennial who got fired from Yelp from a different millennial and I should read that real quick cause everyone said 'read this' when they posted it." We all know that looking at social media for long stretches isn't the best idea for people with depression, particularly if you already tend to compare yourself to others negatively. Which...hi. Have we met? If so, I probably decided you're better than me at some point.

Me, allowing my life to slip by and not sleeping/eating/peeing but OMG NEW LIKE OPTIONS!
Scott works pretty much nonstop, so he also has phone in hand at home, but is usually reading about basketball or playing video games. He's allowed. You go and help people trying to come down off of heroin get the help they need, and you too can play all the video games you want when you get home. Unless, of course, you're supposed to be watching a show with me, in which case I will harass you mercilessly until you put the phone down and watch tv with me.

You're looking at the wrong screen. Look at the one I'm looking at. Stare into this bigger screen with meeeeeee. (Why. Why am I even married? I'm the worst.)

We know that our behaviors, good or bad, are absorbed by our children. They are tiny sponges - which also explains why they get every illness ever to ride the wind and past their face for three seconds - and they hear even the things you mumble. They mimic your actions and make them their own; they create entire worlds out of something you said offhandedly once. Like, maybe, you said they should shut the door so wild animals don't get inside joke...'cause the weather was warm and one might leave the door open but the constant slamming was too much for you and it wasn't your house so you just SAID that and then that kid wanted all of the doors closed in a constant fear of being ambushed by WILD ANIMALS because of your stupid mouth. Maybe. As a purely fictional example.

I was charging my lifeline with a Mophie yesterday. It's just a black box that's a portable charger because...well...if I charged my phone in the wall it would be TOO FAR AWAY FROM ME. Oh, God. I just typed that and thought about my whole life and got a little sad. Ok. I'm shaking that off now. So I was charging and looking at my blue-light friend so I could avoid watching BusyTown Mysteries again (EVERYONE IN THE HOUSE IS LOOKING AT SCREENS WHAT IS DRAWING AND PRETEND I FORGOT). My daughter spies the charger and wants to see it. I quickly realize it looks like the NoPhone being Kickstarted a while back. Remember that early intervention tool? How'd that work out for us?
This one enables the hell out of me.
This one does nothing.

Bird immediately decided the charger was her phone. This was cute at first, as she held it to her ear and talked to someone, a friend she said was in the "hostibal" because...dammit. I can't remember why, but it was adorable. Then she wanted to take the charger to bed. Just like mama and daddy do. I told her we have our phones in the bedroom because we have alarms on them, but that didn't work. I asked her to pick out her stories, and I went to gather all the usual Going to Sleep Barriers: milk, water, tissues, blanket, stuffed animal, socks, anxieties about our future, etc.

When I came back into the room, she was sitting up in bed, stroking the surface of the charger with her index finger, as though scrolling down a screen. But there was no screen. She was perfectly content to stare at a black, plain surface, pretending to scroll. She told me that she was doing the same movement that I do.

Scott came into the room, and she decided to share her findings.

"Look at this interesting cute cat video!" she said with a smile, holding the charger out for us to see.

"Look at this cute boy and girl," she smiled, as though they were just adorable.

Scott and I just stared at one another in horror. "I'm sorry if Daddy is on his phone too much and not paying attention to you. I'm going to stop doing that now," he said. She looked up at him and smiled and told him more about her day with me at the library. I also vowed to put the damn thing down more.

Sure, I started this blog on my phone. I have checked it since then. But I'm now staring at a computer screen while Bird is at school, blissfully unaware.

She's probably pretending everything in the playroom is a phone, though. I think we're doomed. I might post that on Facebook, along with a picture of my kid and my dinner.


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