Reminiscing – Balancing Technology in Your Life

by Kate Fineske on February 16, 2012 · 13 comments

Have you ever been struck with the feeling that something is missing or just not right – yet you can’t quite place what it is?

The other night my husband and I had this very feeling…
And we were shocked when we realized what was missing.

~

Every once in a while it is fun to reminisce, and the other night (after all the kids were in bed) my husband and I decided to “reminisce” by watching our wedding video.

  • I shook my head in remembrance listening to my childhood friend give a fantastic maid of honor speech.
  • I drew a wide smile watching my impeccable aim as I smashed our wedding cake into my husband’s face.
  • And I shed a few tears seeing babies (now grown) and friends and family members (some of whom are no longer with us) sitting witness to our vows.

We were just about to backtrack and watch our rehearsal dinner when without warning…  

Our nostalgia was interrupted by the sudden sound of a BING!
And instantaneously, my husband and I both picked up our smart phones.

It turned out the bing was just a text message to my husband. So, while he responded (since I already had my phone in my hand) I quickly checked Facebook.

A couple minutes later our attention was back to our wedding video. Yet then…

There was another BING!

This bing was a little different, it indicated an email.

And a quick internal debate started within my head: Should I check it? It was probably nothing important. I really wanted to watch our rehearsal dinner. But… it would only take a second…

So I checked it.

Eventually (more then a second later) I looked up.

After being redirected from the email to a blog site that then led me to a YouTube video that I wanted to watch but decided I would wait on until after our wedding video was complete.

Eventually, when I did look up, I realized (sadly) that the video of our rehearsal dinner was almost over.

Keeping Focus (embarrassingly harder than it sounds)

“Darn! I wanted to watch that!” I said out loud and I turned to my husband to asked him if we could rewind the DVD.

It turns out he had missed it too and also wanted to watch it again.

Because meanwhile, as I was checking my email, his friend had text messaged him back and he also got notified that someone new had started following him on Twitter.

So rewind we did. And (after putting our smart phones on silent mode) we settled back into the couch and snuggled up together, this time determined to keep our focus on the home movie and it’s memories.

As we sat there watching our rehearsal dinner (for the second time I’ll remind you), we both started noticing that something felt “off” about the video memory. And I will admit, that at first we couldn’t quite put our finger on what exactly it was.

What could possibly be “off” about this picture? It was a beautiful – no, wait – gorgeous evening outside and everyone was having such a good time together. In fact, in the video:

  • My sisters where smiling as they were having an animated conversation together.
  • A group of the groomsmen were passing a football, completely relaxed.
  • Another relative was deep in conversation with family members as she bounced her young baby on her knee.

All seemingly normal things. Yet something seemed to be amiss.

The Missing Element

The best thing about home videos are that they allow us to remember a moment as an observer, as an outsider looking in. And in doing this, often you see an event from a whole new perspective.

And suddenly, as we watched this beautiful and memorable evening, we were struck with the realization of what was off – what seemed missing from the picture…

Everyone – and I mean Every. Single. Person. There. – was enjoying themselves and was focused on celebrating our impending wedding. And nobody – Not one. Single. Person. – was on their phone.

Wait. Let me pause a second so that you can take this in.

Long pause…

This was over a decade ago – iPhones, iPads, smart phones, did not even exist.

As we were reminiscing about the beginning of our married lives together while snuggled up watching our wedding video, we realized how much a decade can change things. Nearly 12 years ago:

  • There were no intruding bings of incoming text messages interrupting conversations.
  • There were no people wandering off to briefly glance at their email.
  • And no one even considered “checking in” on Facebook or Twitter to let all their “friends” and followers know that they were at our rehearsal dinner.

And it seemed off.
And that’s kind of sad.
(At least it was to us.)

Leave a Comment: There are so many wonderful things that have come from technology, yet there is also something to say about the simplicity (and our focus) before all these devices were available. Sometimes I don’t feel like I do a good job balancing the technology within my own life. How do you help to balance your digital life?

I am a staff member of the National Association of Mothers' Centers and a longtime member of the Mothers' Center of Greater Toledo in Ohio. My husband and I are busy raising 3 children ages 4-11. I have a professional background as a graphic designer in the creative and education industry. Since 2005, I have been using my professional skills by actively volunteering with the Mothers' Center of Greater Toledo in various leadership positions.
Kate Fineske
View all posts by Kate Fineske
Kate's website

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Katherine February 16, 2012 at 7:58 am

Awesome post. As I am sitting here reading it, next to my husband who is playing Monopoly on his i-pad while waiting for one of my friends to respond to my text message. It does make me sad. It really makes me sad when I have to literally talk myself into not checking my email or FB and actually sit down on the floor to play with the kids. That is not how life should be but sadly how it is sometimes. I promise myself all the time that I will do better and tomorrow I know I will. Glad to see were not the only family that technology has invaded.

Reply

Kate Fineske February 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm

You are definitely not the only one Katherine. :) Becoming aware of how technology is effecting me, AND also seeing how much my own kids learn from my actions, has really changed the way I think about technology. All things in moderation is my theory. And now my goal is to better moderate my use of my cell phone, ipad, computer, etc. Recognizing that something needs “moderation” is a step in the right direction. Right??

Reply

kerri rochelle February 16, 2012 at 8:23 am

So true! This year at Christmas my sister passed a bowl around to each member of our family to collect cell phones. We all laughed at her at first, but it was the best holiday we’ve had as a family in years! Everytime we heard the bowl ding or vibrate in the distance, it reminded us that with each unchecked text we were gaining valuable time together with our family.

Reply

Kate Fineske February 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Kerri, last summer my family went on a Cruise and we were all “cell-phone-less.” I was slightly concerned (especially due to my job and how closely it relies on the internet and electronic communication!) – but I have to tell you, being forced to spend 4 days with no internet access or cell phones turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done for both myself and my family. And all in all, it also turned out to be one of the best family vacations we have had to date because we were really able to focus on each other.

So – that was my long way of saying: I totally understand your comment and how you felt when you removed the cell phones for you holiday celebration :)

Reply

Pamela February 16, 2012 at 8:37 am

It is amazing how much changes in a decade; your post is a good reminder that our relationships with people predate our relationships with our phones. I love this post!

Reply

Kate Fineske February 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm

It is VERY amazing how much things change. And change always has it’s good and bad points. Yet I have to say, it was such breath of fresh air to watch people on our home video who were really interacting and not picking up their phones every second. Seeing how much fun people were having, how relaxed they all were, and also how different this picture was from how it would look today really opened our eyes to how much everything has changed… wow!

Reply

Tatum B. February 16, 2012 at 9:28 am

My smart phone is both a blessing and a curse. I like that I can check emails, texts, Facebook, etc. on the run but shamefully admit that doing so sometimes distracts me from what’s really important in life – the people in front of me. This post is a great reminder that I need to make a conscious effort to minimize how often I’m on my phone in the presence of others especially my husband and daughter. I don’t ever want them to feel that something as trivial as Facebook or email is more important than they are.

Reply

Kate Fineske February 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Well said Tatum. I personally am at a point right now where I believe that there is nothing wrong with enjoying checking Facebook and email – even on the go via cell! – As long as we also take the time we need to communicate outside of Facebook and email with our friends and loved ones. I said it below in another comment I left, but I will say it again – All things in Moderation… Right? (And obviously, the night we were trying to watch our home movie – we were not “moderating” well ;)

Reply

Luke February 16, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I always wonder if our technology; smart phones, texting, facebook, etc. are bringing us closer together or giving us ADD where we can’t focus on who is in front of us.

Good blog post over on Orange Parents entitled, Is Technology Killing Your Family.

Great post and wonderful awareness Kate. Something I struggle with a lot and one reason I don’t have a smrt phone. ;-)

Reply

Kate Fineske February 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Look forward to checking out that link Luke! Thanks for sharing. I definitely notice “ADD-like” characteristics appearing due to our cell phone/iPad/laptop usage. I used to be proud of how good I was at multi-tasking… now I am not so sure. Sometimes I think I just need to step back and relax a bit – slow things back down. (Kind of like how things seem on our rehearsal dinner video…)

P.S. I love that wedding shot too! It really captures our moment of joy? Doesn’t it?

Reply

Kate February 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Great post, Kate. I can’t stand when people check their phones during a meeting, dinner out, etc. Whenever I think we want to get smart phones, one of our friends pulls one out and checks it for 5 minutes while we’re out with them. Texting can get annoying like that, too (guilty!)–too much temptation! Good for you guys putting them on silent so you could enjoy your wedding video!

Reply

Kate Fineske February 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm

What is worse Kate, is when your children get older and then they start “mimicking” your habits. Last summer our two oldest kids got DS’s and we were all sitting together outside on our front porch just relaxing. I saw my middle laugh and then look at my oldest, and then a few seconds later I saw my oldest look up and smile at my middle. I was curious what was going on so I asked… Turns out they were Pict-o Texting on their DS’s?! As my husband and I laughed, we also both realized how much they take in from our own actions (of texting too much!). That was our first glimpse in the mirror that maybe we needed to re-evaluate and better moderate our excessive use of technology.

Reply

Luke February 16, 2012 at 1:43 pm

oh, and what an awesome pic of you and Adam on your big day. Thanks for that, it is truly a gift!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: