Why going screen Free for The Holidays is a good idea.

Happy holidays?

Recently, I spoke to a group of women.  These women are current and retired educators or on the administrative side of education.  As the speech concluded, a Q and A session began.  Surprisingly, what happened next was eye opening. Something I hadn’t considered.

One particular woman, in her late 60’s early 70’s, had a profound impact on me. She presented a perspective I hadn’t given much thought to.  She raised her hand.  With a sincere, deflated, concerned and sad tone in her voice she proceeded to say: “I’m dreading the holidays already.”

Annual routine

“This should be a time of year when I’m full of excitement, anticipation, and joy and I’m already worried about the holidays.  My children and grandchildren live out of town.  I do not get to see them frequently, maybe four times a year.  My daughter and son-in-law both have jobs that require them to be accessible, so I understand that they need to have their cell phones nearby.  A large portion of my daughter’s work involves maintenance of the social media posts for the women’s breast cancer center she is employed by.  My grandchildren are completely consumed by their tablets and cell phones.  From the minute they walk in the door, until they leave, that’s all they do.”

 

Disengaged and uninterested

She proceeded to explain, “The reason I’m already anxious about the upcoming holidays is because I’d like to have a conversation before they arrive asking them if they would consider blocking out some good chunks of time throughout the visit device free., I just don’t know how to begin to broach the subject.  I miss them terribly throughout the year.  I think about how they are doing, what they are doing, the exciting things happening in their lives and what challenges they might be facing. When I finally get to see them, hug them and spend time with them, it hurts my heart. They are disengaged and uninterested in spending time with me.”

Putting things in perspective

Wow! In all of my posts, blogs, and articles that I’ve shared, this perspective had an impact. The “put myself in this woman’s shoes moment”never really occurred to me.  Once I heard her share her most vulnerable thoughts, she definitely had my attention.  She tugged at my heart.

 I often think about the damaging affects and lack of interpersonal communication that technology is having on us, but it’s always so clinical, research based, and scholarly. What this woman did, was made it emotional for me and she’s not alone folks.

Can you imagine how many families will get together over the next seven weeks of holiday celebrations sitting around together but not REALLY spending time together?  How many grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins might feel the way this woman feels?  It’s heart wrenching.  It’s not a complaint about technology. She’s not calling technology the enemy, she simply wants to spend REAL, QUALITY time with her family.

Be present

My holiday hope is that we can remember this story.  My wish is for all of us to take some good breaks from all of the pings, dings, notifications, and constant information overload.  We need to show our children how important it is to engage with Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Suzie, Uncle Bob.  How much they miss seeing us and talking to us face to face. When we are finally together, we need to really BE together.

When we do this, we feel a burden lifted.  We gain connectivity far beyond the “cyber connections” we are so accustomed to. We relax and become present in the moment.  Honestly, I never thought about how much it hurts our elder’s feelings to have us in their presence, but how non present we are.  Definitely, something to consider.  Keep Talking!

 

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