Just by way of how our schedule seem to have fallen, Thursdays in our household have become a daddy-daughter day. From attending soccer practices and enjoying bike rides in the evening of the summer months to the current routine of school days and movie nights in the fall, Thursdays are a day in which I get to enjoy some one on one time with the loves of my life. I cherish our time together and we have made it a point of calling out the event, labelling it as the special thing that it is, and as such I’v decided that Thursdays are also going to be my dedicated day to unplug.
I remember the day I was introduced to Facebook. I was sitting in a pub in Milton, catching up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. We were catching up on all things life, when she casually asked if I heard of this new thing called Facebook. Yada, yada, yada, everyone in the world is connected and sharing only the versions of ourselves that will yield the most vindication and ‘likes’. I was, of course, right there alongside everyone else, collecting friends and colleagues like trading cards, snooping through their lives without actually talking to anyone, and ultimately spending more time interacting with an app than a person. Oh, how dissapointed my future self would be to see that I went from an outgoing social butterfly to forgetting how to look someone in the eye during a conversation.
The phenomenon that is social media became a mainstay for the generation (multiple generations, really), and after a few years of bowing down to the evolving beast that it was, I realized that my thoughts, actions and behaviours had shifted from a positive outgoing guy, to a mostly negative outlook with low self-esteem. I didn’t feel good scrolling through pages of posts about people I don’t really know, and feeling anxious that, for some silly reason, I should be doing more to show the fake world that I lived a fake existence. The platform went from a cool and positive way to connect with people that I hadn’t seen in ages to a place that made me feel like every place I went had to first be considered as a post, rather than an experience in a moment. So, I stepped away. I shut it out from my world and stopped using it as a tool and recognized it for what it was. My account remained active, but I stopped sharing, posting or scrolling. I simply stopped opening the app.
Very quickly my mood changed. My outlook shifted and my connections with those I spend my daily life with improved; which isn’t to say I don’t love, respect or value all those who shared a ‘wall’ space with me in the virtual world. Quite the contrary, actually. Instead we now connect in much more personal ways and have real discussions. In fact, we have more to talk about now because we catch up on life in these conversations instead of saying “oh, yeah, I already saw that online.” It has made for a better existence for me and I’ve taken conscious efforts in all facets of my life to extend this feeling wherever I can. I don’t pay at the pump, I try not to use self-checkouts, if someone wears a name tag then I do my best to address them by said name, and I keep my phone in my pocket or out of reach when engaging in public events, family dinners, or any situation that could benefit from direct, physical attention. I’m not anti-phone, technology or social media entirely, I am just ‘pro-being in the present’ and interacting with individuals. It’s true (and perhaps sad), that sometimes people don’t feel comfortable or understand how to reciprocate the interaction, but I’m not going to give up the good fight!
That was all until recently, when I decided to get back engaged and explore some social platforms, admittedly because of recent personal ventures that assist in creating far-reaching business connections. There are many valuable tools out there, when used for the right reasons, and I do understand and appreciate that. What’s interesting, however, is how quickly I started to find myself once again becomming distracted by the noise that comes along with all of that. “Did anyone share my post?” “Do they like me and my work?” “What am I going to post next, and when?!” I’m once again on the search for content more than I am in search for enjoying present experiences, which is why I’ve been turning to resources and tools to slow myself down and ensure I don’t get back to where I was so many years ago.
Thursday, being daddy daughter day, is something I know I won’t have forever. The kids will grow older and will prefer to spend their time with friends, driving around the city getting up to no good more than they will cuddling on the couch with their dad or busting out some sweet moves playing Just Dance. For now, though, our time is precious and valuable and I refuse to let it slip by me. So, the other day, when I caught myself trying to come up with my latest social influence post in the middle of our movie night, I made a vow to put the phone down as part of our weekly ritual. Not just during our evening movie time, but for the day. I will focus on the events and moments of my day and not allow outside influences to bring along the guilt that comes from ignoring what I know I’d rather be doing instead. Thursday will be experienced guilt-free; maybe that’s something the whole world could embrace….imagine that!