Look Up! Look Down! Social Media… the perils!

I was sitting in my children’s Karate class the other day, tapping away on my phone.  It had been a long day and I had a lot of catching up to do as I had many messages and emails regarding our homeschool co-op, my photography business, an upcoming family get together, texting my husband about things we need to get done, and… well… who knows what else.

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That’s when it happened… a woman behind me whispered (ok, it was a really loud whisper if she was trying to be quiet she stunk) she whispered to her friend sitting next her to “Some of these parents should put down their phones and watch the class!”

I’m sure my face turned red.  Did this woman just try to guilt shame me?  Did that really just happen?  Oh the things that ran through my mind about what I should say… but I didn’t.  I did put my phone down for a few minutes but only a few.

Here’s the thing… this woman doesn’t know me.  She doesn’t know I homeschool my children and I’m with them 24/7 watching EVERYTHING they do.  She doesn’t know that I put social media aside all day long in order to nurture and educate my children and I’m desperate for a brain break and some time to get things done. She doesn’t know that that little phone is the life line through which my children’s social lives keep thriving.  She doesn’t know that my husband works long hours day and night and weekends too and this is our one time to make sure we have a clue about what is happening in the other’s life. She doesn’t know that my family has been a part of this karate school for 4 years and I’ve sat through sometimes SEVEN karate classes week in and week out through all of that time.

She doesn’t know… she doesn’t know about the woman sitting next to me.  Perhaps that lady is getting word about a relative in the hospital, talking to a friend overseas who’s actually awake at the same hour, or working out a sweet surprise for her child’s birthday.

She just assumed we were all ignoring our children and that we were terrible for doing it.

Social media, the internet, our little phones have all gotten a bad rap as of late.  There is this idea that these things make us isolated.  That we are so sucked into the virtual world at our fingertips that we are ignoring the real world around us.  That we are becoming a lonely society with 500 meaningless Facebook “friends.”  We now look down our noses as those looking down at our phones.

There are videos like the one above and whole books (several of them) written on the topic.  It’s another “thing” for moms to get wrong.  It’s another source for Mommy guilt… just because I chose to catch up on my phone rather than watch my 1,000th karate class.

Social media  and our tiny little phones aren’t evil.  Social media and the internet is a wonderful vibrant medium that can add so much richness to life.  It can connect you to friends old and new, expose you to new ideas, lift you up and motivate you.  I have so many friends from days gone by… from high school, from college, from old jobs… you name it.  We’ve reconnected through Facebook and I adore what they share.  To watch their little babies be born and grow up!  To see their triumphs and to pray for their struggles.

Social media is where I learn about the stuff that doesn’t always make the mainstream news. Things like the struggle to free persecuted Christians from the worlds worst jails, the real story behind things like Common Core, or the absolute best way to cook quinoa.

Social media is the tool I use to make my family’s social life go round.  In the last 24 hours I’ve had online group conversations (that don’t appear in any of my newsfeeds) with no less than 30 people.  THIRTY PEOPLE!  Some of them half way around the world.  I’ve planned playdates, co-op classes, a Christmas party, and negotiated with a family that will likely book me to photograph a wedding.  How much of that would have happened if I banned social media from my life?  Next to NONE of it!

Truth be told there are a few people who were once in my social circle that I saw regularly.  They decided to kick the social media habit and now I rarely if ever see them.  They aren’t aware of the events, groups, outings, park dates, classes, field trips etc any more so they don’t come!  That seems more isolating to me but I’m not them so I can’t say.

Anyway… no more Mommy guilt over our phones ok? It’s ok to look down, at least sometimes.

 

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