I finally broke down and bought myself a gadget last year in October: the black Apple iPod Touch 5th Generation and with some Christmas money I bought a set a accessories to go along with it. I’ve been taking more pictures and even some video, which has been missing in my family’s life for several years. I’m in love with the touch screen and I have a hard time imagining how I kept up with all my social networks before I could quickly access them all right out of my pocket.
Just like any gadget–Kindle, MacBook, iPhone, iPad and even computers–it can be an amazing tool.
It can also be a distracting toy.
One thing I’ve always hated is looking around in public places–the library, mall, grocery store or the theater–and seeing just how many people are staring down at the palm of their hand. Many of them have this dazed, glazed expression on their faces. They no longer seem plugged into the world and people around them but are plugged into the gadget, as though hypnotized.
And I know not everyone is like this–the messaging, texting and calling is a fantastic way to stay in communication with people, especially on the go: “Come pick up me here” “Change of plans” ect. But I also know that’s not what everyone is doing when they’re holding a gadget in their hand.
Before I got my iPod, I always fancied to myself that I would never become withdrawn like everyone else, if and when I was privileged to have a device of my own. I didn’t want to miss life’s little moments or just look like another distracted, uncaring and unaware human being wondering the streets like a zombie.
But once I had my little glow box in hand, I at last understood exactly what ‘those other people’ had withdrawn too. As a extroverted, color loving, motion loving person, I was spell bound at the world opened up to me. So many fun, free games with dazzling colors and effects; useful apps for photo editing or chit chatting, and music and Netflix; I actually started using Pinterest because the pinning process had less steps then on the PC because it was a touch and tap away.
AND THE GAMES. THEY ARE SO FUN. TEMPLE RUN. LE VAMP. MINION RUSH. FRUIT NINJA. AHHH!
I love my iPod. I take care of it, I keep it safe from water and scratches, and I share it with the family at times. Heck, I can read blog posts in my bed without having to actually get out of my warm covers to turn on my computer. It’s fantastic and I now rarely go anywhere without it being safely kept in my possession.
At the same time, I don’t want to become detached from reality. As tempting as my little magic light box can be at times, I want it to be second, not first in my day to day priorities. So I’ve come up with my own rules on how to keep my iPod from replacing my family or reality.
1. If someone is wanting to talk to me, especially if it is a more serious conversation, turn it off. The most annoying thing in the whole world is trying to share something with someone and feeling like you don’t matter because all they continue doing is staring, tapping, texting or playing away on their device. So, I’ve made it my own rule to give eye contact to people when they’re talking to me so they know I’m listening and that I care. If the conversation is of a more serious nature, I shut the iPod off or I set it down. This keeps me focused in on what really matters and keeps the other people from feeling like they’re wasting their time trying to speak to me.
2. During meal times shared with the family, the gadget should remain in pocket, not on table. Sometimes if I’m having breakfast by myself or happen to be eating lunch by myself, I’ll set my iPod on the table and will scroll through Twitter or Tumblr while I eat. However, if it’s, say, dinner and the whole family has sat down together, I try to remember to leave my iPod in my back pocket. This is (a) simple politeness and (b) keeps the doors open for good conversation between family members.
3. I’m out in public because I’m trying to achieve something, not to walking about checking for free wi-fi. It’s my own rule that I’ll rarely pull out my iPod if I happen to be out and about with Mom or the family. Sometimes I will take a few pictures, but I’ve not left my house to constantly check Twitter. I’m grocery shopping, I’m browsing through thrift stores, I’m picking up library holds, I’m making fun of the adds playing on the movie screen to make my sister laugh: I’m doing something with someone and that’s more important then the Interent. (Same goes for most car rides.)
4. I will miss life’s special moments if I’m too busy trying to come up with a funny caption for that moment that’s still happening in front of my eyes. This is one of my strongest rules: if I’m at a birthday party, celebrating an achievement with my brother, or at out to eat, I might take some pictures, but my next goal is to not immediately upload those photos to all fifteen social sites with clever captions saying what’s going on, ect, because you know what? I’m still living that moment! I will waste something special that I’m trying to capture if all I’m doing is watching it through my screen and trying to decide which filter I should upload to make that picture better. I want to live those moments and then go back to them later and reflect upon them when it’s all said and done.
5. Keep it a healthy balance–still have fun! It’s not like I’ve NEVER goofed off with my iPod or that that’s a bad thing! When my sister got her’s, we took pictures of each other and then poked each other teasingly through Instagram’s comments while sitting next to each, giggling. It was great fun and we were still interacting together. Living well is not a just dwelling on a bunch of restrictions OR being, “UNTAMED, NO RULES, YOLO!” ect. You’ve got to be balanced in everything. While I might not do this, that and other with my iPod, it doesn’t mean that I can’t ever not actually enjoy the fun things that come with it! I don’t want to feel guilty for playing Temple Run or Le Vamp–“Oh my gosh, this is such a waste of my time, I’m never going to get anywhere in my life, ugh, this is such a sin, I can’t believe society even created this time waster, America has crumbled!” ect. ect. ect.
The key to a healthy life is a healthy balance. So, don’t let your gadgets consume your life but also don’t let your determination of not getting consumed keep you from having some fun. This is, like, so important guys.
It’s hard to follow these rules sometimes; there have been some days I have failed myself completely so I hope none of you think that I think I’m perfect. I’m not. But I want to constantly strive to keep what’s real as my primary focus… without making myself feel guilty for having bought myself an iPod in the first place.
So, what are you plugged into?