Wow. As if we needed any additional guilt in our pile.
A recent video with over 23 million views has made the rounds attempting to show us how wonderful it is to be unplugged and how rude, disconnected, and harried being plugged in is.
As a mother to a child with a rare condition, in a clinical trial, with special learning needs, with many doctors and therapists, with my own health issues and appointments, with two other children who may not get enough attention and also feel the unpleasant effects of all this as well…. There’s entirely enough guilt to go around without adding the guilt of being plugged in. I think many rare disease parents (and patients!) would agree.
However, with all the hype surrounding unplugging, and with that twinge of guilt for the stolen moments, however small, of digital me time (how dare I!), I allowed the guilt to settle on my shoulders for a bit. I breathed it in. And then I almost drank the Kool-Aid.
But then I realized….
I am not going to unplug.
And I am not going to feel guilty about it.
We bear more than enough guilt for all the times we don’t know if we’re making the right medical decision for our child. And so what must we do? Plug in to our social media community, who knows vastly more about the ins and outs of the disease and its symptoms than any doctor. Or guilt for the impact the disease has on our family. So we plug in to the community who shares that burden. Or heartache for that mom who’s either just lost her son or is losing him day by day. So we plug in to pour in to one anothers’ lives. Plugging in is anything other than checking out.
If you see a mom reading a book, do you automatically assume she’s addicted to reading and ignoring her children?
If you see a mom paying her bills, checking the dates of her children’s doctor appointments, looking outside to assess the weather, reading her Bible, making a list of household chores, checking a map for directions, pulling out a photo album, calling to check on a friend’s sick child, calling in prescriptions…. Are they addicted to bills, photos, prescriptions, chores, the weather, the Bible, caring for others, or the like? Do they need to just let them all go and live the island life?
Just because all of those things are now performed on one electronic device, does that make any difference?
I don’t play games on my phone (but I do play phone tag with doctors, pharmacists, and insurance and supply companies).
I don’t text my girlfriends for fun (but I do text my husband for fun).
I don’t spend excessive time on Facebook or Twitter (a great portion of which is rare disease related in any event) (but I do jump in and out for a moment or two).
I do play with my children. In fact, I savor them, each and every day.
I bask in the sunshine, the movement of the clouds, the wind on my face, and the birds singing in my ears.
I have real conversations. With real people. In real life. Many of whom I met online.
I took a vacation. Didn’t unplug, but felt infinitely refreshed.
I’ve left my phone. Then wished I’d had it to take a picture of my kids doing something quirky and fun.
It is about balance.
I love my life.
I like my phone.
My technology is immensely useful in the life that I lead, the challenges I face, and the calling to which I am committed.
Bonus Nugget of Knowledge: An article entitled ‘Plug In Better – A Manifesto’ discusses how to remain plugged in without entering addiction. I love the final quote: “Or we can consider a more encouraging possibility: we plug back in because we like it. We plug back in because this new online world offers extraordinary opportunities for creation, discovery, and connection. We plug back in because we don’t actually want to escape the online world: We want to help create it.”