Being in constant contact

imgresThere was an article this past weekend in the Style section in the NYTimes about the tyranny of constant contact.  I still remember the days when a phone/mini-computer was not an extension of our hand.

I text and call my kids.  I don’t want to be in their face because I don’t want to crowd their life but I want to be engaged.  It is a balance.  This past weekend I was supposed to connect with our oldest daughter. I had not heard from her after texting the night before and then into mid-morning.  I was concerned because she has always been an early riser.  I was getting a bit concerned.  She finally called me late morning after a late night she had just woke up.

In the land of the past I would have never had that opportunity to even worry because there was not that state of constant contact.  I could have noticed on her Instagram that she was out late but I find myself rarely looking at Instagram these days unless I have some idle time in a taxi.  God forbid I should just watch the scene outside the car window because absorbing myself into the abyss of social media is much easier.  Twitter is a go-to for that.  The best media platform out there.

Sometimes that constant is just so overwhelming.  Sometimes the constant is comforting.  Just as I do try hard to balance the in your face with my kids (who are essentially adults) and the feed of the world that keeps coming at us.  As summer is upon us it is the perfect time to think more about disconnecting.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    “feed of the world”. you can say that again…I like that term.And to think that only a few years ago, we only had the home phone, letters and the newspaper to get connected with the outside world or family.The smartphone replaced them all, and sat in our pocket. To disconnect, you really need to lock your smartphone away somewhere.Joanne, if the phone doesn’t ring, it’s me.

    1. Gotham Gal

      ha. i like that.

  2. Brandon Burns

    You pointed out how you may hate the tyranny of always being reachable, but then when you can’t reach someone else, like your daughter, you’re like, “Um… where are you?!”Same with my mom. I’m always telling her to stop expecting me to be staring at my phone 24/7 for constant immediate responses, but then when I can’t reach her immediately I’m annoyed. Lol.We all do it. We’ve trapped ourselves in this prison!

    1. Gotham Gal

      we are totally trapped.

  3. Susan Rubinsky

    I read that opinion piece too. Interestingly, you posted recently that Fred is the worrier and that you think worrying is a waste of time. We are all human and fall into these emotional traps, especially when it relates to our children. We are hardwired to care. It is interesting to think about how technology hooks us in this way. It’s easily turning a lot of people into addicts. Helicopter parenting is supported — promoted even — by technological advances and these advances are changing our cultural norms right before our very eyes.An example is that family (I think near DC?) where the parents were arrested recently for letting their two kids go down to the playground without any adults and actually play. By themselves. When I was a kid I would take off on my bike in the morning and be back by dinner. My Mom had no idea where I was or what I was doing and it was perfectly normal. Now it’s a crime.This is the perfect cultural moment for Buddhism. You must understand your attachments and learn to let them go. Balance is way off. Time to find the right spot on the fulcrum.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I totally went out all day as a kid and nobody knew where I was either. Times have changed…and I think about what I was doing and everything seemed to turn out fine.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Thank goodness there wasn’t social media when I was growing up. All I will say on that subject.

        1. Drew Meyers

          I 2nd that.

  4. ErikSchwartz

    We are very consciously trying to let our kids free range as much as we can. When we were kids, especially in the summer, we were gone all day, parents had little or no idea where we were. Hopped on the bike at 9 AM, went to the beach, went to friends, went to the movies. Mom wanted to know if we weren’t going to be home for dinner (for her own planning reasons). But besides that we were on our own from ago 9 or so.To me there is nothing wrong with letting a ten year old ride her bike two miles home from an activity through Los Altos California. I am somewhat shocked that some of the activities our ten year old daughter is involved in require that she be picked up by a parent (or a nanny (boggle…)) afterwards.We have a single “kid cell phone” that gets loaned out as needed. Our 13 year old really wants her own (maybe when she is 14).

    1. pointsnfigures

      Free range for kids is awesome. I remember when a bike meant freedom for me. It meant freedom for our kids too. When we moved to the city, we let them free range to a certain extent as well-and technology helped us keep track when they were younger.

    2. Drew Meyers

      I loved the freedom of biking around when I was young; 2nd grade was when I was given freedom to roam around solo. Before that, it was always fine as long as it was a group of people. I can’t imagine a scenario of having to check in with my mom constantly when I was younger..for both our sakes.

  5. awaldstein

    Cuts both ways.Lianna’s parents in their 70s refuse to get a phone.Feels weirdly selfish and not smart to me.

  6. pointsnfigures

    HA! My wife worries more now than ever for the same reason! Amazing that our generation was even able to go out to a bar and meet up without texting and facebook and twitter and snapchat and instagram calendar invites!Our daughters are now living together…so we will see how that goes.

  7. Mario Cantin

    I remember spending a summer day on a canoe on Lake Muskoka, Ontario, and feeling all anxious at first because I had forgotten my iPhone in the car and having a strong urge to go get it. I realized this was crazy and let it go. It soon felt wonderful and liberating. We all have to learn to disconnect IMO.