Monday, November 15, 2010

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.

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