Monday, September 30, 2013

The Shelter of Each Other, Rebuilding Our Families

I've decided to take the TV out of my house, turn the phone off after I know my children are home safe from school and take away my children's devices. I started reading this book "The Shelter of Each Other, Rebuilding Our Families," by Mary Pipher Ph.D. Immediately it felt absolutely imperative to connect with my children and introduce them to the larger community of earth without the aid of internet, TV or video games. These things are a distraction from what is really going on in the world around them. 
We bury ourselves in our phones when we're out with our friends, retreat to the bedroom to surf the internet, while our children play video games and eat dinner separate rooms or in front of the television. 
Nothing terrifies me more than a society that doesn't feel for one another. Empathy has dissipated because of mass desensitization. What's okay is certainly not okay and what's not okay, certainly should be. What have we become? We are lost, transfixed on ever changing colors of square shaped machines that promise us things that can never be delivered by a thing that doesn't breathe. These things are so unimportant, so detrimental actually and I watch people worship them like Gods. Friends eating lunch together, barely having a conversation because they're busy texting someone who isn't there with them. People driving, putting other lives, potentially my family's or your family's lives in danger so that they can look at their phones. People who don't even know their neighbor's name, lost in a conversation with someone they aren't even sure is real, never touched them, that lives thousands of miles away, and calling them a friend. Children killing people in a virtually reality that they are too young to understand isn't real. Husbands and wives who sit right next to each other and stare at a box that is perpetually trying to sell them something. People not talking, not even looking at each other, ordering coffee while surfing the internet on their iPhone, without even the courtesy to look at the person who made it for them. 
This isn't okay, and it's anything but funny. It's disgusting and dangerous in ways we haven't even begun to see. Look around you, right now, is anyone looking back? How many people do you see on their phones, or with headphones on, or staring at a screen of some kind? How many people do you see making eye contact, smiling at each other, engaging with one one another?
Do I believe that phones/TV/computers/etc are bad? No, I don't if they are used appropriately. However, I don't know one single person that uses these things in a way that isn't detrimental to themselves or their family. People aren't connected. Something essential has been lost. It's an old-fashionedness that has been destroyed. We don't know our neighbors, and that's sad enough, but we don't even know our own friends, our mates or our children. It's interesting, because it's what we all want and yet it's what we run from. The connection, the "knowing" of one another. 
What would happen if we had no devices to distract us from the people who we love? What if there was no internet to suck you in on endless searches for meaningless crap? 
It's a lot to ask and I understand a very big sacrifice for a lot of people. It's possible to start small. What if you made the decision right now to turn your phone off when your children were safely home with you? What if you ate at the dinner table with your family with no TV or anything else allowed to be on? What if you took the TV out of the bedroom and that was only a place for sleep, cuddling, sex and getting dressed? What if date night was a time that you turned everything off? 
I wonder what would happen, how much life would change. I know one thing for sure, I refuse to be a part of this technological madness anymore. I will allow myself to blog/vlog for one hour a day, to Skype with my friend who will be moving to Arizona twice a week and to have the phone on between the hours of 8:15 and 3:30. Otherwise, all devices are off. That is my vow, for one year. If at the end of a year I feel that I don't want to do it anymore, I'll give myself the freedom to change my mind. 
I hope for everyone that is reading this that they find a healthy balance. I hope that they can connect with those around them and know what is important. Know that these machines don't care about you, and they never will. The people that you watch on TV, no matter how much you "like them" will not be there for you. If your children are young, they don't know the difference between a video game and reality. They are damaged by violence. Know that you are damaged by the images and news of violence that you see and hear. The world in whatever colorful electronic box you're entranced by is not real. Wake up and notice the real. 
I choose, from this moment forward to take this step in being the change I want to see in the world.

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