Until three years ago, I had a Motorola Flip Phone that I used like it was just a phone. It had a web browser, but I didn't have a data plan. It had this snake game on it, but I didn't play it. I could text on it, but I almost never did. I left it in my car console, turned off, all the time. If I wanted to use it, I'd almost always have to plug it in and charge it for ten minutes so that I could make a call.
I didn't get the news, read emails, tweet, update my Facebook status, check into places on Foursquare, or Google anything from my phone. Ever. I didn't text people just to see what was up, and I didn't carry on all-day-long BlackBerry Messenger conversations with anyone.
I survived this. Know what I did instead? I was actively engaged with my kids, like, all the time. Or I went to work and I focused on what I had to do while I was there. When I was hanging out with or having a conversation with someone, I paid attention to them.
Then I got a BlackBerry smartphone.
And it was an awesome toy, and I wanted to play with it. And the novelty apparently never wore off. While I used to love going out (or even staying home) and being unavailable, now I panic a little at the thought of leaving my phone behind for a walk to the park. What if I miss a call? What if I think of something I need to share on Twitter? Dear Lord, what if someone else is the mayor of the playground?!?
I'm not as good a parent as I used to be before I was always connected to everything outside of my house. I report with sincere shame that my kids beg me to leave my phone at home when we go out. They also comment on the fact that I'm always texting people while we're doing things together. And that sucks. That's some pretty awful parenting, right there.
So I'm returning to my old ways, at least when my kids are with me.
I'm still going to keep my BlackBerry, but I'm not going to be signed into Twitter and Facebook on it. I'm going to leave it at home unless we're driving. I'm going to put it in the drawer where I currently store my old Motorola flip phone, and I'm not going to check it constantly.
I'm posting about this so that I have to hold myself accountable. This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time, and I don't know what grain of sand finally tipped the scale, but I need to do it now. Starting today.
So, big deep breath, Amanda, and remember--the world is still there. You don't have to check on it all the time.