I’ve recently took inventory of my cell phone usage. Particularly, when, where, why and for how long. Not an official deep dive, more self reflection. I noticed that I’m not necessarily leading by example in my home. I’m a loose user in the evenings around my family, in that I mean, I’ll check a sports score, if I have a move to make in chess, or are there any new news stories on Yahoo or Quartz, stuff I consider “light”.  I try to avoid opening emails or looking for text, communications that tend to lead to a more labor intensive scenario, what I’m particularly trying to rid myself of after a specific hour of the day.

Having sad that, I put away my phone during family movie time. My sons and I were on spring break together (oh the benefits of working in education…let me count the ways) which was a blessing (kinda-sorta, Dads, you know what I mean). Because of the break, movie night was daily. I decided to put my phone in the bedroom. This would help me disconnect, and disconnecting so I could connect was the objective. It was refreshing, albeit weird at first. My new practice resulted in less of an “aha” moment, and more of a confirmation. I also noticed the cell phone check-in behavior of my wife and children. Because of what I observed, I implemented a “family fine”, a tradition in my home.

The new fine is that, anytime we’re watching television together (which we only have one of, by design), anyone caught on their cell phone for just about any reason, would be subject to a $1.00 penalty.

Some of our other fines:

  1. Not saying “please” – $0.25
  2. Leaving a light on in a room you are no longer in – $0.25
  3. Making a sarcastic remark (exclusively for me, I’m a work in progress) – $1.00 and now
  4. No cell phone/tablet usage while watching t.v. as a family – $1.00

*We had a “umm” penalty for $0.25 but no one really enforces it. Our children were in Orator classes where they stressed the importance of silent breaks and the avoidance of uttering “umm”.

I later surmised that life is happening weather you’re recording it or not, as per my recent experience on Parris Island, S.C. where I attended an Educators Workshop for four days learning about the process for a new Marine recruit.  The experience was a total blast from start to finish. Every participant was recording as much as possible. It was actually uncommon if you weren’t asking someone to take a picture of you. I can’t tell you how over I am with, “hold on, now use my phone, hold on, use my phone too”.  I basically stopped recording, stopped taking pics and told myself, I’m going to enjoy the experience and be in the now. To my defense, I was trying to share the experience with my wife via text, sharing photos and videos almost in real-time, but at one point, I was like, “this is taxing”. I’ll just resign myself to using my words to describe my experience. I worked on being present, taking in the moment, committing my experience to memory. Yeah, I know, pretty bold of me, huh! Instead of using the super computer in my pocket, I used the one in my head.

I found that I started enjoying myself more. I felt less stressed and more observant. My over reliance on my mobile phone was never more evident when I did the monkey bar obstacle at the “Confidence Course” (dubbed that because new recruits do it during their first week when their often less fit and a second time after extensive training, thus a spike in confidence). My reckless decision began when I gave my roommate my cell phone and asked him to record me. I did the course and when I came down off the bars, he had a look that told me things didn’t go according to plan. He botched the video. Now, I’m frustrated that I don’t have it recorded and I cant show anyone. What do you think comes next? Yeah, you guessed it, I foolishly do it again IMG_0364

A week later, I’m at a shoulder specialist getting two shots in my left shoulder because of the pain.

The male ego and the influence of social media and video documenting life.

Painstaking lesson, but a lesson none the less.

Until next time.



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