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I admit I have been pining away for an Ipad–ever since the little devil’s came out I have been wanting one. I haven’t been able to justify buying one, I have my lap top, I have an i-phone I don’t need to be anymore portable then I already am. But they just look like such fun. Recently, my mom won a new ipad at a charity auction. While I was overjoyed and frankly a little jealous of my mom’s new found toy, she was pretty underwhelmed and frankly stressed about adding more technology to her life. Graciously (ok, a little selfishly) I agreed to take her ipad and get it all set up so when we met for her training session it would be all ready to go.
So yesterday morning, I cracked it open and began downloading apps my Mom would use: NPR, Facebook, Scrabble, Weather and local news stations. I also downloaded a couple of games (admittedly more so for me and my nieces and nephews then my mom–but it was from a place of love) including Angry Birds. For those of you who don’t know Angry Birds is a a highly addictive, pretty brain numbing game involving “sling shooting” birds to blow up little frogs and the structure they have built to protect themselves. And so yesterday afternoon, I sat on the couch and played Angry Birds….for HOURS. I played it while watching the Superbowl pre-game, actual game and post-game. Now in my defense I made a dinner for friends and did a few loads of laundry but when I wasn’t cooking or switching loads of laundry I was blowing up little structures via my Mom’s ipad.
As I crawled in to bed last night and had a craving to chat with my nearest and dearest (who was barely keeping his eyes open next to me) my first reaction was to be upset, he had spent most of the day with his friends and I felt like I had hardly seen/talked to him. And then I realized, no he had spent the majority of his day with his friends AT OUR HOUSE. Yes, while I sat there and played Angry Birds we also had a small but simple Super Bowl party. So while I was physically present to my guests, our friends, I wasn’t really present. I wasn’t emotionally or mentally engaged I was checking in and out depending on how much the Angry Birds were calling to me. As I lay there next to my gently snoring nearest and dearest, I realized I had missed out on engaging with people I love and enjoy so I could numb out to some silly video game!!! I decided then and there–an Ipad is not for me. Not just because I can’t justify it’s expense but because I can’t justify it’s power over me. I can’t justify missing out on real life experiences because the power of numbing out is too great.
I am a big believer, we all need to ‘check out’ from time to time–watch mindless TV, play the occasional video game, get lost in really good fiction but when it starts preventing you from engaging with other people then it is time to check it out and see what is really going on. I know I have a bent towards computer game addiction which is why we don’t own a Wi and now why we won’t own an ipad. But it is my responsibility to ask myself on those times when I am sacrificing real human interaction for a computer game–what is really going on?
I realized how often many of us use our iphones, ipads, blackberries, smart phones of all types to disconnect from those with whom we are actually physically present. It isn’t necessarily that we don’t like the people we are hanging out with, it is that we are stressed, tired, overworked and frazzled and concentrating on some silly video game can at times be easier then engaging in real life. We all need a break. I for one am going to be more conscious of giving myself that break, when I am alone and not when I get the fortune of being with other people. Don’t get me wrong, Technology is a wonderful thing, but when it gets in the way of us creating true human interactions it becomes damaging to us and those around us.
So I propose the question to you, How often do you numb out with video games? TV? Iphones? E-mail or Web surfing? What is really going on?