We were sitting at dinner last night, our usual Sunday night dinner as an extended family, and my phone would not stop buzzing. It irritated me and it really irritated my father in law.

After giving it much thought over the last while I’ve come to believe that not only do we think we must answer each and every buzz, ring, text and summons but we also get very impatient when someone else doesn’t immediately answer our buzz, ring or text. The text messages yesterday were from my sister, and while they were not urgent she believed they were. We are so plugged in and so connected in every way with all our technologies that we can’t abide not being answered. Along with this has come the breaking down of a polite barrier. Remember when you never called anyone before 8am and never after 9pm? You just never called earlier or later unless it was life or death! We respected each others boundaries and family time and we waited, politely, until the appropriate time to call. Now we have no barriers, we assume availability at all times and all hours of the day or night. I got a text one morning at 5:30 and I’ve had them as late as 11:30pm, none of these were from family or an emergency, it’s just rude!


As a consequence we feel more stressed than ever before, we feel more obligated than ever before, we just can’t let it go. Turning off our phones is likened to cutting our throats! I have begun dreaming of what it would be like to go somewhere for a week where there is no cell or internet service. Would the world come to an end? Would anyone really miss me? Am I really the only one who could possibly get this done?

My kids have the ability to not answer if they are busy or just don’t feel like answering, I don’t have that, I feel obligated, I feel that there may be an emergency and I need to answer right away, I feel like it’s easier to answer now than try to fix it later. How did this happen? We have always had technology around the house. My husband is a geek! He likes to fix, build, puzzle out, try new things, hack into things to make them work in ways they ordinarily wouldn't, so we have always had lots of technology around. The biggest difference between our house of technology and others is that our kids were taught that it was a tool, not a toy. Their time on the computer was monitored and timed, games were few and non-violent, cell phones were given when they could pay for them themselves, facebook was only allowed they were over 18, basically we taught them how to use and to respect technology. Most families would really benefit from less technology. We have too many kids alone in their rooms or living in mom’s basement playing games and sinking their lives into the great internet abyss. People have lost personal relationships and the ability to really communicate, kids have problems spelling because they speak text, families are ripped to shreds because of relationships built in the anonymity of the net and then they explode. However I digress, with all that we’ve taught out kids about how to use technology how did I become so obliged to it?

I’m a mom, a caregiver, that’s what I do. I also work full time and have church callings that take a significant amount of time, however……I’m a mom first. So when my kids call, my sister calls, my in-laws call, I feel that I must answer. I will change my plans to help them, I will cancel plans to babysit for them, if I cannot change my plans I will feel guilty because I could not be there to help. I wonder if it’s pride, I wonder if it’s not being able to put myself first, I wonder……..Do you have these issues? Do you need to unplug from your technology to save your sanity? Do you need to carve out a day when you just don’t answer, don’t respond, have time to recharge and recoop? Do you need a day when are able to relax enough that the buzz of life fades into memory?

Maybe we don’t need a place where there is no service, maybe we just need a time to not accept service. In the days before we were all so reachable, were we really totally unreachable? So if we unplugged ourselves for a time we could still be reached in an emergency, right? What constitutes an emergency?

We love our technology, but I don’t think it’s made our lives a whole lot easier. Maybe we would begin to have fun with it again if we went back to using it as a tool not an anchor. The world can and will go on without us if we don’t answer this one time or this one day. We don’t have to be available every minute of every day, AND we really shouldn’t expect the people we are trying to contact to be available either.

Lets try it, lets unplug, lets take the chance that we can still be happy, that we can survive, that the world will keep on turning. It may take it bit more work to convince your children to unplug for a day, but consider the opportunity you could give your kids to throw a ball, to make believe, to ride a bike or skate down the street…..mmmmm childhood can be so fun!

So I’m willing to try and do better if you are. I’ll turn off my phone during dinner, I’ll stop answering after 9pm, I’ll use my phone as a tool and not treat it as an extension of my arm. I will not assume that just because I have received a text or phone call I must answer immediately. I will run my phone it will not run me!