I belong to an online site called "Sparkpeople". I don't remember all the details, but this fella came into a lot of money, and what did he do with it? He started this site. It is all about weight loss and healthy living. There are a multitude of tools available to users. Food trackers, calorie counters, activity trackers, hundreds of articles, "work out" videos, an opportunity to have a personal page where one can blog. One can earn virtual trophies and badges and interact with others. There are all kinds of "teams" based on any number of things: lifestyle, interests, particular health challenges, place of residency....and it is all free.
There was a time when I was very active on Sparkpeople. I had almost 200 "friends", and was co-leader of two different teams, one of which was the official team for my state and has over 30k members. As co-leader, it was my responsibility to help come up with fitness/health related challenges, visit member pages and attempt to keep others encouraged, and I was given the job of putting out a monthly team newsletter.
This kept me very busy and in front of the computer for an inordinate amount of time, but I loved it! Apparently, one of my strengths is being enthusiastic and encouraging.
It began to occur to me, over time, that these activities were taking over the entire rest of my life. I had a vision of myself sitting in front of the computer, weighing 700 lbs, unable to walk, but saying all the right things to encourage others to weight management and healthfulness! It wasn't long before I had reluctantly resigned my co-leaderhood, and shortly after, curtailed my blogging activity and began working on bringing balance into my life. I began to bring focus to MY OWN health, spirit-body-mind. I came out of my imaginary world and back into my own life and family.
A few months later, Joey died suddenly, unexpectedly, unbelievably.
Among a trillion other thoughts and feelings, one thing that I was very glad of was that I was present for that last time with him. I felt overwhelming gratitude that I was moved to do that before he died.
I revisit the site from time to time, and write the occasional blog post. The thing is, once one removes themselves from the spotlight, one is quickly forgotten. On that particular site, there are maybe 3 "friends" left that "remember" me. Over time, many have deactivated their pages/accounts. Fortunately, there are a handful of those "friends" that became actual friends with whom there is interaction outside of the site.
Technology has many benefits, no doubt about it. Online resources can certainly enrich our lives. Smartphones are extremely convenient. Just this weekend, we had the experience of reuniting a dog with it's owner thanks to a local online "garage sale" site and speedy quick, as the owner had a smartphone with which she could frequently check for updates and messages.
Like every thing else, what has a light side also has a dark.
Lately, I have been noticing the downside of cell phone/smart phone usage. It is interfering with "our" relationships. All too often lately I have heard "can't you just put that phone away and talk to us"? Two different couples I know recently went on a rare date..."couple time"!!!...and I heard the complaint that "they were on their phone the whole time." During one of our recent holiday gatherings, it was said that "here we are, all together, and everyone is looking at their phones." yep, it was true. Of myself, as well, and I was ashamed.
Just yesterday, the chief was home (a rare occasion) and we were sitting together in the living room...and I felt lonely. We weren't talking or interacting in any way. We were both on our phones.
My time and family relationships are too precious to not be present for. If all of my quiet moments are spent scrolling through facebook or pinning things (many of which are just page clutter), I am missing moments in which I could be listening for "spirit". If I am doing those things, or texting while not being present with those who are in the same room with me, I am not nurturing those relationships. I'm not giving room for my creative energy to manifest. I am spending too many mindless hours on things that aren't all that important in the long run. And heaven forbid, I lose another loved one whose last days were not cherished because I was wrapped up in my phone!
I'm glad for my iphone. I'm grateful that I can keep better track of my kids, and I can talk to the Chief whenever he has a moment through out the day.
But I hereby declare that I will not longer be in bondage to it's apps.