Technology: Setting boundaries to avoid gluttony

It's Friday, which means a long run day for me. About a year ago, I added The Sorta Awesome Show podcast to my listening line-up on long runs. Today's episode was all about technology and the ways it helps and hurts us--a topic I've thought of often. While I fall into the digital native label because of my millennial status, my family wasn't quick to adopt all the technologies.

I vividly remember when my parents got their first mobile phone: a car phone in a bag sometime in the mid to late 90s. I was mystified that my mom could make a call FROM HER CAR.

We even had a computer during my elementary school days, but I don't think we had internet at home until I was in junior high. My small Catholic elementary school got a tiny computer lab when I was somewhere around fifth or sixth grade, and it was a big deal. We played Oregon Trail and learned basic keyboarding skills, but I don't ever remember doing anything on the internet until junior high.

The technology I really loved, though, was my stereo complete with a fancy cassette deck. Music has always been my thing. I know the pain of rewinding and pushing play at just the right time to listen to a song over again. When I became interested in song lyrics, I often would listen to a 10-second snippet of a song, pause it, and then scribble down what I thought were the lyrics. Anybody else do this?!? Those were the good old days of technology.

My junior high years brought MSN Messenger, and it wasn't even worth asking my parents if I could have it. They were strict about the media we consumed, and the thought of me talking to a stranger on the internet would've sent my dad's blood pressure through the roof. Working around this, I used my cousin's and friends' computers and their Messenger accounts to talk to whatever boy I crushed on at the time.

In high school, I primarily did most of my writing and research for classes at school. Maybe my memory is not serving me correctly, but I don't really have any memories of getting on the internet at home until I was a junior in high school (2002-2003). I'm pretty sure this was the year I got my first email address so I could start researching scholarships and colleges.

I got my first cell phone when I was 16, but I didn't have text messaging until I was a freshman in college. I still remember getting my first text message. I looked at the tiny screen of my Nokia flip phone, saw a text from one of my friends, and muttered, "What the hell is this?!" Soon after, I of course added text messaging to my cell phone plan.

I may be of the digital native millennial generation, but I wasn't really in it. I still live under a bit of a rock when it comes to tech. I've only looked at Tumblr once (and it was downright maddening) because a student in one of my classes used it for a project. I rarely open Twitter, and admittedly, I don't really get how it works. I had Snapchat for about six months, but I didn't use it enough to justify it taking up space on my phone. Even still, technology and social media have managed to become a regular part of my life. In our home, we have a television, a desktop computer, two laptops, two tablets, and two smart phones. I use Facebook and Instagram and Google Drive and Blogger and email multiple times a day. I refresh all my news apps at least twice a day to keep up on current events.
All the devices....
In episode 83 of The Sorta Awesome Show, the hosts discussed the concept of digital obesity and brainstormed ways to step back from all the technology things. This is tough to do as a freelancer (I'm still recovering in terms of numbers and reach from the last 30-day social media fast I did), but I do need to be more intentional about my usage. At the end of the podcast episode, the hosts challenge listeners to "engineer [mental] solitude in their lives." My technology habits could use more boundaries, so here's what I'm going to try:

  • Fasting from social media on Sundays (similar to the host of TSAS). My family is entering show choir season, which means Nate will be gone from sun-up to past sundown on Saturdays. Sundays, then, will be our family days.
  • Investing in an old-school alarm clock for my bedroom. My alarm is currently on my cell phone, but every morning when it goes off, I open up Facebook and Instagram and scroll through all the things before I'm even out of bed. I waste probably 30 minutes every morning doing this nonsense, and for what?! There's really no purpose to it.
  • When I come home from work, I want to park my phone in the kitchen because I fear I'm teaching my kids horrible habits. I don't want my kids to be ruled by their devices and develop separation anxiety when away from them. Parking my phone in the kitchen will free me up in the evenings. After dinner and showers, our little family cozies up in the living room to wind down for the night. The kids usually play a game or read on the rug, and 75% of the time, Nate and I are on a device. I don't want my kids to think that technology is the only way to wind down. I'd rather they see me reading, writing, coloring, or playing with them. 
It's not possible for my family to go back to the "good old days" without internet or devices, but I do have a responsibility to set boundaries for myself so that I avoid gluttony and to set a good example for my kids. What about you? I'd love to hear about your experiences setting boundaries with technology. Are there any areas of tech usage that feel out of control to you? What are ways you reign it all in?

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