Sunday, November 21, 2010

Closed due to illness...

...and now Thanksgiving vacation.  Sorry for the silence, but there's likely to be more till we get back from out vacay.  Check back later.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I need your address!

In order to make my new snail-pace life, I need your snail-mail addresses! Please email them to me at mamma.hurleydavid (at) (elisabeth.hurley was already taken, arg!) and I'll put you in my address book.

Hmm... I need to get an address book!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Went to bed without my phone again.  Woke up and immediately got out of bed instead of spending my usual hour in bed reading FB and articles.

Last night instead of watching evening shows, we cleaned.  And now I have an extra hour for my day today, well, I did, before I decided to sit down and create this blog and set up a bunch of in-advance posts.  

Amazing how much extra time one can have!  Though it would appear I did squander it today.  Ah well... signing off now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I still haven't officially started my big tech-free, web-free challenge, I've been wanting to gather some necessary tools and supplies first -- watches and clocks for example.  But it would seem as if just the decision that I want to do this has released me a little from the grips of my tech addiction.

I'm still checking Facebook, though not as often.  I am still watching shows, though not as often.  I even told hubs he could start watching all of our shows without me.  I'm still reading blogs, but not as often.  I even went to sleep last night (after watching no shows, by choice) without my phone on my night stand.

Is this going to be easy?

Monday, November 15, 2010

National Opt-Out Day

I realize this is a little of a tech-free fail in that I saw this on FB and am passing on a link to a website which I want you all to go read.  But it's also a tech-free win because the issue fits in very well with my tech-free goals.  Plus I'm so vehemently against the full-body scans at the airport that I will break nearly all of my personal rules to get this message out.  PLEASE GO TO THIS WEBSITE.  PLEASE CONSIDER THE VIOLATION ON YOUR RIGHTS AND MINE.  PLEASE PASS IT ON TO OTHERS.  PLEASE PARTICIPATE IN THE OPT OUT.  We need our government to know we are NOT OK with anyone looking at our genitals just so we can fly!

Comments Fixed!

I just modified the settings so everyone can comment, anonymously or not, with or without accounts. Sorry for the inconvenience. Of course to be more tech-free, at some point I'm going to consider either turning off comments or just not reading them, but for now comment away!

A day in the life of a techno-slave

I'm the classic, stay-at-home, 21st century mom. Let me take you through a typical day.

As a cosleeper, I usually awake sandwiched between my two little ones, and before I even think of sitting up, I reach over one of my sleeping tots to my night stand to retrieve my lifeline, my iPhone, which waits, hopefully charged, with my morning greetings on Facebook. I swipe to unlock the phone, check the time (I have no other clock), and tap to open Facebook. I check to see who's commented on yesterday's posts, I consider whether I have anything interesting, witty, or otherwise worthy of becoming my first status of the day. I may snap a photo of my sleeping tots and post that with a cute caption. I read the morning posts, scroll down, scroll down, and read every post I can find until the last one I read last night. I check my groups and see if there are any new posts there. Then I check my email. Nothing there usually, except far too many daily subscriptions that I can't keep up with and can't be bothered to unsubscribe to. But I have to scan the emails a couple of times as actual emails do often get hidden in the mess of spam and junk. Time to check back on Facebook again, see if anyone has in the meantime commented on my first posts of the day or anything else. Any new interesting statuses from friends? No. Ok. Now what? Do I want to check my blogs? Nah. Check Tumblr or Twitter? Nah. Oh... I just remembered that thing I read about that I wanted to research... A quick google search, some taps around on Safari, a couple of article reads, and I'm now an expert in the field of virtual, underwater basket weaving. All right. An hour has passed. The munchkies will be stirring soon. Time to sit up and get out of bed. Wait. Let me check Facebook again.

Throughout the day, the phone never leaves my side. I check nonstop to see if there are any new posts or comments, lamenting the fact that I'll never see some of the responses to my posts thanks to Facebook's inconsistent notifications. For breakfast... let's see... I'd like to make some eggs, but I recently saw a better way to fry eggs... so I search for the YouTube video and watch to learn how to do it just right. Ah yes. Hmm... we're low on butter, add that to my shopping list app.

I get a fair bit of texts. Certain salsa students of mine are avid texters, my babysitter also communicates almost entirely via text. I'm crazy about texting because I have a phone phobia and texting means I don't have to call and talk to people. In fact, the one thing my phone gets used for the least is phone calls. Some times, other than a call to hubs (which is just as often a text) to see if he's left work yet, I can go days without making or receiving phonecalls.

As I start cooking, my eldest comes down. He begins to happily play with his toys as I check my email and Facebook again. We sit down at the breakfast table, and I may or may not be forcing myself to stay away from reading the articles that someone posted. I don't want to spend a moment without my phone, so if my clothes don't have a pocket, I slip my phone inside the side of my bra to keep in on me all the time. I need to do laundry. Oh that reminds me, I need some more detergent. Check Amazon to see if I can order some there with Prime. I've been having a problem with clothes not coming out terribly fresh too. Let me google that and see if anyone has any tips.

Baby is up, crawling around, eating, playing, and before you know it, he needs to be nursed down for a nap. Time to go upstairs and sit at my computer to kill time while I nurse. Let's see... The Hulu queue is empty except for the things hubs also wants to watch... let's catch up on my blog reads. In between, I Facebook, look at the wedding photos of people I don't know, and go back to my blogs. I have so many blogs to read, and some of them post so, so, so often, that it actually numbs my brain and I go blank. I see so many beautiful craft, art, and design ideas, I star them, I post them on Tumblr, I think, oh that's lovely, and that, and that, and that. And before you know it, I'm so numbed by over-inspiration, that my will to create vanishes. Ah well, baby's asleep, and eldest is occupied watching one of his shows on Hmmm... let's respond to that debate I was in on Facebook. Oh look someone's chatting with me. It's my cousin. How nice.

I continue the chat with my cousin on the laptop in the kitchen as I make myself some tea and lunch. And as I sip my tea and chat with her, I chuckle to myself becoming suddenly aware that this moment is very like she's there with me, sipping tea, at my kitchen table, gossiping about family, and talking about life. This makes up for the lack of girl friends I have in my empty kitchen. But then I stop and realize, it really doesn't. And instead of interacting with my beautiful boy, who is zombified with his own videos and games in the room nearby (or playing on the floor by himself), I'm interacting with a machine, with someone who is there, but isn't. Like an imaginary friend, I choose that relationship over the real, and more difficult one in front of me.

Speaking of that relationship... I turn off the computer (no I don't really, I put it to sleep), and guiltily go sit with my boy. We spend a short while together and I feel a little better about my parenting today. But before you know it, I get bored or impatient, and out of habit, without even realizing I'm doing it, my thumb has swiped my iPhone to unlock it and check in on the virtual world to see what I missed in the 15 minutes I've been away.

He also starts to get anxious and the energy that has sat in him untapped all day starts to leak out, and then pour, and then he's bursting open with it. Before long we're exploding at each other. I'm lost for what to do. Yes, I know I should focus more on him, but how do I handle this specific instance? The fact that he hit me or jumped on the dog. The fact that he crapped his pants again. Let me do a quick google search for tips. Maybe look for parenting books to read. If it's really bad, I'll post questions on online forums. Meanwhile, he continues to bounce off the walls and instead of parenting live, I'm reading about parenting. (They say one who can't do teaches. I'd suggest that one who can't do, reads about it instead.)

Maybe I'll post about this parenting issue on Facebook. Maybe a friend has a suggestion.

And so it continues throughout the day. In the evening, hubby and I text each other to find out when he's coming home, if he's left yet, or if he's been delayed. He texts to tell me he's stopping at the grocery store and I email him a shopping list. At the dinner table, we've worked to improve, but it's not been unusual to see 2 out of 3 people with their hands and eyes glued to an iPhone instead of connecting with those present. After dinner, and after some clean up, we catch up on our shows on Hulu. And we're not satisfied with that single layer of connectedness. We need more. So, as we're watching the show, we're checking IMDB to see where we know that actress from, and occasionally wikipedia or elsewhere to fact check. If we happen to have a discussion with a disagreement, we may well settle it with a google search. Both of us. iPhones in hand, we search online to see who can mostly quickly find a credible source to back us up. We'll do this if we're out with friends too. In the middle of conversations I look at my phone and start typing to find an answer to a question, recall something cool I saw, or find the name of that book I want to read. Read? Well yes sometimes I do still read books. Oftentimes they're on Kindle for iPhone or downloaded audiobooks from Audible.

Later in the evening, one of us, putting one or both of the boys to bed, texts the other to bring up a glass of water. I may be noticing something is not right with them -- or me -- now and I'm online searching for symptoms and remedies. And when the day is done, after possibly another round of TV shows or blog reads, I go to bed with iPhone in hand, falling asleep as I check the last Facebook updates of the day. Or, if I can't sleep, I listen to a podcast, read on Kindle for iPhone, or watch a movie on Netflix -- on the iPhone! I've considered updating my phone's software overnight, but I can't bare to wake up without my phone by my side, so I forgo the update and live another day with way out of date software and darn the thing is running slowly these days!

-- I can't proofread the above without defending myself a little. I have gotten better, I do actually put my phone down and walk away from it at times during the day. But that means absolutely dreadful panic sets in when I don't immediately find in next to me later in the day when I absent-mindedly reach for it to reconnect.

--Between hubs and I, I'm often less connected than he is. Yes, he is free of my Facebook addiction, but he definitely gives his iPhone a lot more of his 'face time' than I do.* When he's at work, he faces his computer all day. In the car he listens to podcasts, when he's home, he's either watching shows or reading something online. He's uneasy if he's not connected. He also goes through terrible addictive phases of game playing. As bad as my addiction is... I'm frequently after him to put his phone down and pay attention to me or the kids. Then, in his defense, on weekends he can often be after me to pull away from the computer so I can do housework or some other productive** thing. Actually right now (Saturday morning) he's cooking breakfast and calling me down to eat.

*Am I the only one who finds it ironic that one of the latest things Apple has given us is called Face Time?
**Ooh a dirty word if ever I heard one.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I'm no technophile.  I do get excited about some of the latest new gadgets or apps, but it's not all wine and roses.  Wikipedia defines the technophile as someone who "sees most or all technology as positive, adopting technology enthusiastically, and seeing it as a means to potentially improve life and combat social problems."  Yeah.  It's just not that positive a relationship for me.  No.  My relationship with technology makes me more of a techno-junkie or a techno-slave.  I feel the short term benefits of it.  I get a rush, a high, when I try something new, when I connect, when I reunite with old friends, when I get comments on my photos, when I read about new ideas, but ultimately I feel overwhelmed and controlled by it all.  I'm beaten into submission.  It's the button I must perpetually push or else... I don't know what else, but it won't be good.  Yes, I was also a LOST-slave, but I'm finally free of that show.  And that's the thing here.  Unlike a true technophile, I long to be free of technology's reach.  I want to unplug.  

My tech-life is ridiculous.  I'm addicted, and overpowered. It dominates and overrides my life.  I want to live naturally, and parent respectfully.  But I'm forever absent.   Some days, my son hardly sees my face as it's blocked by his view of my computer or phone (that either he's using or I am).  I don't even have it in me to do anything anymore.  Anything.  My house is falling apart.  I can't manage play time with my boys.  My art and writing have  been abandoned.  My salsa business is being ignored (as are all the emails for it that are sitting unanswered), in fact all my emails are unanswered.  But I can't bring myself to actually respond to them.  It just seems so overwhelming.  I'm so connected to so much of the vastly wide space of the internet, that to act, to do, or even to make effective use of parts of it becomes a nearly impossible task.  I have information overload; I've so much of it constantly pouring into my brain, that I can't bring myself to stop, focus, and respond to something.

I need to be free.  I need myself back.  I do love the connectedness I feel with the world, my family, and long lost friends.  As a former pseudo-military brat, it's such a relief to finally know the family I didn't grow up with better and to be reconnected with all of the friends I said goodbye to.  I'm less anxious about losing things and people now.  But I'm losing myself and my own life in exchange.  And worst of all I'm losing my precious time with my babies.  

It has to stop.  NOW.

I've stopped some of it already.  I read my blogs a lot less often -- sometimes I go weeks in between reads.  I stopped checking Twitter, formerly my only news source, and that quieted my mind slightly.  It's a relief anyway to be away from the news, which means a lot less information and a lot less negativity in my life.  I've taken several email vacations too.  But it isn't enough.  I WANT OUT.  I WANT TO BE ENTIRELY DISCONNECTED from the virtual world and reconnected to the real world.  I want to know what that's like.  

So I decided to give myself a challenge.  Disconnect.  How long?  Weeks, months, a year?  I'm not sure.  Maybe I'll try a little at the time and see how long the ride goes.  I thought it would be fun to do it as a personal and social experiment, which means I'd be bringing you along with me.  That means I'll be blogging.  Very plugged in, I know, but maybe I can make that my exception.  

So what else can I do?  What should my rules be?

Here's what I'm thinking about.  If you have ideas for this challenge, let me know.  (Anyone who wants to participate in the challenge too is welcome.  Other perspectives would be great to hear about.)

1.  No more Facebook.  Zero.  
2.  No more blogs. (other than limited access to update this one)
3.  No more online shows -- I'm bored with them all anyway.
4.  No reading from anything other than real books and print.
5.  No communication that isn't live in person or phone call.
6.  No email, just snail mail.
7.  Possibly ditch the cell and get a land line.
8.  Try to cut off my eldest from all his videos and games too.
9.  Real cookbooks.
10. Real reference books.
11. Brick n Mortar shopping.
12. Real invitations.
13. Real groups.
14. No texts.

One major problem I have is what to do about photos of my kids for my family?  My boys' grandparents range from 3 hours to several countries away, how will I make my experiment mine and keep from punishing them too much in the process?  Suggestions?  Furthermore, photography is one of the few art forms I still frequently dabble in.  And it's all digital nowadays.  How can I continue to work on that without spending hefty tech time?  Do I make allowances for tech time for these things?  Maybe I restart my personal blog and post my family photos there for maintaining limited connectedness? Or maybe I stay true to this idea and order prints and send copies to grandparents.  Hmm... can I allow myself to order them online?  It's so much easier than going to the photo store with a SD card.

Oh my god.  The reality is setting in.  If I spend lots of lovely, newly freed up time knitting, I won't have ravelry to browse patterns and keep my knitting notes.  If I want to get a craft idea for a project I can do with my boys, I can't look online.  And how will I find answers to my questions or the names of books to read?  How will I know about events I'm invited to or keep up on my friends' lives?  ACK!  Maybe I don't want to do this.  Forget everything you read above.  Technology, I give in.  I will remain your slave.  Beat me some more, I'll take it, I won't run away.  Just don't let me live far from the warmth of your convenience, connection, and information.  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Things to come

Before starting this blog today, I wrote down some thoughts about this project.  I'll be sharing them with you over the next couple of days...

A new blog, a new life

I have blog-itis.  I know.  I've started an awful lot of them.  Is there some sort of 12-step program? This one is different.

I have in recent weeks been feeling that my life is being overwhelmed by technology and most significantly by the internet.  I want to take a step back, withdraw, remove myself from the web and the web from my life.  It's an experiment of sorts.  I don't know how long the experiment will run, I don't know what I'll learn, I don't even know yet what I'll do as part of the experiment, but I do know that I want to remember what life was like before all of this, and I want to see how much of this I need or even want.

So yes, ironically, this new blog is about how I will be using the internet less.

Why do this?
  • I want more time.
  • I feel like a slave to my tech addiction.
  • I want to interact more with the real world.
  • I want to read things on paper, that I can hold in my hands.
  • I want my boys to know that I'm reading a book, and be able to see that I'm reading a book -- instead of seeing me hold an iPhone and not know whether I'm reading articles, Googling, Facebooking, watching movies, playing video games...
  • I want more and better time with my boys.
  • I want less information clouding up my brain.

Why not just go all the way?
It's impractical to completely cut yourself off from tech and from the web.  And mostly I don't want to punish my boys' grandparents for my decision to do this.  Plus, as an experiment, I think it's fun to share the results as they are happening.  And it doesn't have to be all or nothing.

So, I'll be allowing myself a little time every night to update this blog.  And a little time every 2-4 weeks to post photos on Facebook.  I want to see if I can cut myself off from everything beyond that.  Wish me luck... in person.