Pulling Away From the Pixels

On this weekend’s edition of the Wall Street Journal was a cover piece about a captivating video game, Fortnite.  As the mother of a nearly 9 year old boy whose peers are obsessed with game, the article certainly caught my eye.  I became my children’s enemy earlier this year when I refused them the chance to play it.  But now, their perspective has shifted, and my oldest expresses relief that he doesn’t play Fortnite, even noting how some of his frenzied friends seem to be struggling more in school since they began playing the game.

It was a relief to me to hear his thoughts, as I reflected on my own experience with what seems like increasingly necessary technology.  Having a social media presence and a website that is updated frequently were parts of the job description I wrote for myself when I decided I wanted to work for myself rather than a doula agency.  However, I was unsettled by how much screen time this resulted in for myself, especially as I felt I was modeling for my children a disengagement from the real world.  I longed for them to ride bikes, make mud pies, craft, create, and play with each other and with myself, without the crutch of an app or video.  Recognizing my lack of peace over these issues, I chose to view this as merely a season when my children’s needs were greater than my business’.  Blogging would always be there, waiting for me when I was ready for it.  

It’s been a satisfying journey, to refocus on what is present in my real life.  Each of my children have vast desires to connect with me and my husband.  We are leaning into that more now, recognizing the value of our relationships and how formative these years are for our children.  I feel connected to far fewer people on facebook and instagram than I ever have before, but more richly connected to those who matter most.  

Another benefit of my reshaped use of time has been the ability to really focus on new challenges, like taking pre-med classes and building up the mileage of my runs again.  As I finished up a trail run on West Palm Beach’s Apoxee Trail yesterday, I surveyed the raw, wild beauty around me, and wondered at the mystery that, while millions of people live nearby, I rarely come across a fellow hiker or runner in this stunning land, even on an afternoon with heavenly weather.  Maybe everyone else is swiping through their digitized social lives.  

If so, I don’t judge.  You  don’t have to hire a sitter or convince your spouse to pick up the slack you leave behind by disappearing into nature for a while.  Your house is cleaner with everyone behind a screen.  It seems like you’re only doing what everyone else is doing.  And besides, a “like” lends a bit of dopamine boost to your brain.  Who could ever blame you?

But as for me, I’m pulling away from the pixels.

Instead, I will bushwhack my way to the brushstrokes from God.  

I will hold on dearly to every mud pie, every giggle, and every moment of wonder not captured by my phone’s camera.  

I’m daring to doubt they who claim my internet presence matters.  To whom, anyway?

So, forgive me if I’ve had fewer blog posts, pictures, updates, and reciprocation of your hearts and likes.  Other people can tell you what is happening in their lives every day.  I may be missing from your news feed, but I assure you, I am not missing out.  

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