With the ever increasing popularity of smart phones, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and whatever other social media we’re using to communicate with each other now, It’s easy to feel like we’re constantly conversing with each other. My phone beeps all day long with messages from my three WhatsApp groups – nearly all of the women on them are other mums, most of them work outside the home, some are in Paris, some in the U.K. I read along, getting news about their days in real-time, sending pictures of my day, Arthur, whatever I’m cooking or doing in that moment. It’s fast, it’s efficient and it’s easy.
I looked up yesterday and realised that I hadn’t had an actual, in person conversation with any of my friends in over a week. So absorbed with my day-to-day of raising a toddler, housework, keeping on top of our admin and just generally keeping afloat, I realised that I’d barely had a conversation with my husband, let alone any of my friends. I had had LOTS of toddler conversations, but since these are mostly about poo or cars, I am not counting them!
So, in a fit of horror (my poor husband bore the brunt of this!) I set about remedying this lamentable state of affairs.
- I told my husband that we’re going on a technology detox (he was thrilled!) When we have an evening together, which is about twice or three times a week – no phones!
- I accepted an invitation to breakfast on the other side of the city with a friend
- I organised FaceTime conversations with my beloved U.K based friends
- I invited a new friend over for coffee
Face-to-face conversations are so important to our mental health. I know this because the instant my husband put his phone down and started listening to how I was feeling at that moment I felt listened to, I felt respected and that my needs were important. I came away from breakfast with my friend feeling lighter, appreciated and loved. I turned off FaceTime, knowing deeply that I had roots, connections in the U.K that aren’t going anywhere – my friend lifting up her baby to the camera to show me his teeth was INFINITELY better than glimpsing a photo on WhatsApp during a hectic day of back and forth sharing of news.
Will I be keeping my WhatsApp groups? Of COURSE. But I will also be scheduling in ALOT more face-to-face time with my friends, I will be putting my phone in a drawer more often, I will not be answering messages straight away, I will be playing more card games with my husband, I will be watching Arthur more through my eyes and less through my camera lens.
I will be more present. That’s my promise to myself.