One of the things I began doing after I had a baby, was listen to podcasts. I no longer had any time to read, it seemed that all i was doing was feeding the baby, or changing a diaper or napping with the baby. I was tired, yet I was so worried about losing all connection with the outside world, and I also craved other conversations and thoughts besides only being with my newborn, though, that was and is such a beautiful part of my life. So listening to a podcast became my “nursing ritual” when my son was very young i.e. a few weeks. I love the New Yorker magazine fiction podcasts, because they are read by authors who feel influenced or compelled by a story by another writer and because they proceed to discuss the stories afterwards. I felt as though i was back in writing class listening to these. But my favorite podcast soon became the On Being series with Krista Tippet, from American Public Media.
The hour long programs soon had me hooked. They offered intelligent, engaging and compassionate conversations about topics ranging from faith, religion, science, ecology, poetry and writing and i can’t recommend them enough. One in particular has impacted me a great deal. It was titled, “ALIVE ENOUGH? REFLECTING ON OUR TECHNOLOGY” and featured an interview with Dr. Sherry Turkle, the director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self and author of the book Alone Together.
I think about technology a lot especially now, with a young child. My hope, perhaps it’s idealistic, but perhaps it is not, is to allay his contact with virtual things as much as possible. I want him to have a childhood that is filled with the real, not the virtual, with play that is outdoors as much as possible and when indoors with toys that are crafted from materials that have integrity, and allow his imagination to soar.
Yet, here we are in a household where our laptops are our lifelines, our work depends upon communicating via email and the internet and both my partner and I are on our computers for a significant part of the day. Our living/dining/kitchen is all open concept and it is here that the computers perch. We are also part of a global family. His grandparents are in Ontario and in India and we Skype with them. My heart absolutely shuddered the other day, when I was trying to teach him how to send his grandma a flying kiss, and he kissed the screen of my iPad. I wondered what was going through his mind. Does he think his Nana is in the box? Is he connected to them because he only saw them a month ago in India in real life? What is the difference of the real vs. the virtual to him and wow, how must it impact a child so young.
It’s a big topic and I don’t think there is much research on all of this yet. We’re doing our best to create clear boundaries with our use of technology. This is something Dr. Turkle talked about, about creating tech free zones in your home.
We don’t bring laptops into our bedroom. We don’t allow him to use the iPad for anything but talking with his grandparents with all of us together – it becomes a social thing and I try to be as hands off from my iPhone or i everything when I’m with my son. I don’t answer a phone during a meal and though my practice space is usually the living room floor, i try to turn everything off before a yoga session.
Yet we’re on a slippery slope. I see the internet as an incredible tool for connection and spreading awareness and effecting change, yet I also see it as a way for people to be in the same room together while being on a completely different wavelength. We could argue that books allowed for the same sort of mind travel, yet i think there is something different about sitting in front of a lap top or computer and looking at a virtual screen. There is a little too much available to us, we don’t have to use our imaginations quite so much, everything is on offer and it’s in technicolour.
Mostly I think it’s about balancing how much we can process. Ayurveda, a philosophy i try to live by, talks about how much of our health depends on digestion. Digestion is not just about digesting the food we take in, it’s about digesting and assimilating all the influences in our life, from the people we see, the media we consume, the sounds, the visuals etc. etc. And we must allow ourselves the space/time to assimilate. Something that is impossible when we are online and connected all the time.
We need time to exhale, to allow ourselves to clear and clarify and reset. Savasana is that ideal time in a yoga practice, something i’m re-engaging with again as a mama. I try to take savasana and relish it even when I know the baby’s going to wake very soon and I have a few precious moments to myself. It’s the ultimate zen out zone and I hope you find yourself there often.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts on technology and how do you create boundaries with your use of it? Are you finding that we’re quickly losing our tech free havens? Is part of the huge release we feel after we go to a yoga class, also because we’ve managed to untether our smart phones, if even for an hour?
Send me a note!