When was the tipping point?
At what time did the tide of social media and devices turn from being an addition to our lives into becoming the driving factor? Where was I when this happened? An event of this magnitude should be rememberable, I mean I remember where I was and what I was doing when a colleague popped up in front of me and announced that Micheal Jackson had died .. so how did something this important slip right on by?
I consider my kids to be almost-but-not-quite digital natives. The twins would have been 7 when we got our first family i-pad. They would have seen me on the computer from time to time, but I didn’t own a smart phone until a couple more years had passed. So even though my own children didn’t grow up with me as a tech savvy role model, they are now teenagers and their poor digital upbringing doesn’t seem to have hurt them at all. Today all 3 teens are quite happy in their digital world: swiping, scrolling and communicating with their friends at any time of the day or night and happily ignoring the ‘no phones in the bedroom rule’ to suit themselves.
My one small victory in this digital world is the ‘no phones at the table’ rule which still goes largely unchallenged. During this precious time we chat as we eat and catch up with each other. Insults are exchanged, jokes are told, stories are encouraged and rants are allowed. As soon as the meal is finished however silence returns as they return to their rooms to ‘do their homework’ and a quietness returns to the house.
So when did we move past the tipping point of digital devices as an extra into digital devices as a given and necessary part of life? And why didn’t I notice? As a hands on Mum, I feel like I’m not totally isolated from my kids. I’ve also wanted the best for their learning and have shelled out a significant amount of money on devices that have been touted as “necessary for their education.” But the use of their devices has gone way past school only, they live in a world that is digitally driven and has changed the way they use their time. Gone are the physical pursuits they used to engage in, the paint brushes sit neglected on the desk top and the basketball hoop hasn’t been shot at this year. Swapped for the glittery seduction of places they haven’t been with people they don’t see very often.
How’s that all going to work out? An overseas trip will fast become just another “catch up on insta with my mates” mum. Once school finishes how will they meet people to connect with online? By moving themselves to an online world they are at once opening up new possibilities and at the same time saying no to the things that make them human. So their “yes” to the time spent on their devices becomes a “no” to time spent in the physical world: connecting, moving, touching, smelling, feeling (with their hands and their hearts), activating their senses to notice the world around them and the people in it.
I know the mundane becomes boring quickly. And yet its this sameness that also sets us on the path to success, as a grounded human who is able to operate in a human world without the use of a device to assist them. A grounded human who can receive with compassion and gratitude and give their strengths to the world.
So now I ask, “Where is this tipping point going to take us?”