“Look Up:” The viral video reminding us that Real Life is not the pings from our phone

Have you seen this one?

Gary Turk’s short film depicts the sentiments of the poem that acts as narration. The poem discusses the fact that despite how “connected” we are by our technology and social media, the reality is that we are living our lives in isolation. Its sweet story implores us to “look up” so as not to miss the real life happening around us.

I watched it today, and it resonated especially after my post last week about the difficulty of maintaining good correspondence despite how easy technology is supposedly making it to keep in touch.

While the video verges on melodrama, it makes a solid point.

As a first-time mother dealing now with the challenges of raising a toddler, I’m reading up on development and discipline. One of the most important points that comes up in the parenting books is how these mini people-sponges pick up on everything that we do. Their brains absorb and mirror what they see around them, especially in their parents and the other people close to them. Therefore, we have to be aware of the image we project

What will they make of us constantly looking at our phones?

I really try to be present with my daughter. I try to stay in the moment and not stress about the things I can’t do when I’m caring for her. I try to remember that it’s all about the journey right now and enjoying the slow pace she sets as we walk and stop, walk and stop under the budding trees and brightening sky. While I think I’m doing a reasonably good job, the reality is that my phone is always with me. I couldn’t tell you how many times in a day I check up on my blog, refresh my email, respond to texts, etc. It’s constant.

Part of the problem is that my phone serves many functions. I use it to keep track of time, keep Linden’s schedule (sleeping, nursing, etc), look up any number of questions I have during the day, take photos of Linden being a wacko goof-ball, store recipes, etc. It’s amazing that way, but it makes it seem essential. And I know my daughter sees this. She actually brings the phone to me if she spots it somewhere away from me. Cute… but telling.

As I watched this video, I tried to shake off the worry that I’ve already done damage here–that my kid already sees these pieces of technology as essential tools of human existence. Of course, holding onto this kind of guilt is useless. The parenting books also tell us that new pathways can be made in the brain–all is not lost if you’ve already screwed something up. We are, all of us, adaptable creatures.

So what to do moving forward?

  • Get a watch, or have more clocks around the house so that I don’t “need” my phone to keep track of time.
  • Turn off pretty much all notifications.
  • Designate a specific spot for my phone when we are in the house so that it’s not constantly with me.
  • Include email as part of scheduled time for correspondences.
  • Plan time for other internet activity–blog maintenance, Facebook time, etc.
Paris Clocks by Nick on Flickr

Paris Clocks by Nick on Flickr

I probably sound a little obsessed with scheduling my time. But when I’m dealing with the freeform, non-guidelines of a curious new person, schedules help me corral the many little bits of my life that I’m trying to squeeze in between diaper changes and walks and meals and cleaning and book reading and block stacking. I think one of the main dangers with the technology is that the nano-second swipes and clicks can so easily slide into the spaces in between the rest of our daily tasks. For me, planning time for this activity will hopefully give it its own space so that it does not spill across the entire day as it seems to now. I want to be productive, but I don’t want to constantly stress about being productive. If I give myself certain times and spaces in which to create and accomplish, I can also give myself the time to just be with my little one. It’s about balance.

My kid is growing up so fast. Everyone warns you how fast it goes, so you expect it but just knowing isn’t enough. You really have to make the effort to be sure you’re not missing it. So I’m vowing to put my phone down. I don’t want my kid to remember my face with a blue techno-glow, or my hands constantly gripping a device. I want her to remember my smile, my hands tickling her tummy and toes, and the time I spent enjoy life with her.

Are you obsessed with your smartphone, tablet, computer, etc? What tips do you have to disconnect from the technology and connect more with real life?



8 responses to ““Look Up:” The viral video reminding us that Real Life is not the pings from our phone

  1. It is definitely the double edged sword. My smartphone has become an appendage but I do try to take tech breaks. I also do shut it off at night which I have learned recently, many people do not do.

    • That’s a good idea. I don’t shut it off at night but I rarely get any “action” on it. Again, I used it as a clock (to check the time when my kid wakes up… yay!). I should just get a real clock…

  2. “What will they make of us constantly looking at our phones?” – this really hit home for me…except I don’t have a smartphone…my problem area is my laptop. My 2 1/2 yr old sees me at it a lot, and that’s not such a great thing, I don’t think. 😦
    I like your ideas for change! Thank you!! 😀

    • You’re welcome–thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, the laptop. I can’t even bring mine out. My daughter just wants to do “work” on it if it’s within reach. I think this is part of the reason I’m so constantly on my phone–it’s easier to be sneaky with it! (or, so I think…)

    • Ha, an irony not lost on many, judging by the comments on the youtube video. I think that’s part of the thing–these gadgets are part of our life now and they’re great in many ways. It’s all about balance–not letting them overtake real life.

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Love this. I always remember when your sister, Kirby was 8, coming home from school and taking the corded phone off the hook so that it wouldn’t “interrupt” us, I realized adults often think the child interrupts our need to answer the phone and now the “device”, when in fact, it is the technology that is interrupting life!

    • Aw, that’s sweet! Yeah, Linden does not seem to appreciate the phone interruptions, as you’ve heard. She does mimic the conversations, though. As a stay at home mom, I really have to remind myself frequently that it’s my job to spend time with her first and foremost, so any other tasks are the interruptions, not the other way around. It was actually a bit freeing when I realized that and stopped trying to “get things done” every day.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s