My inspiration for a tech-free weekend ….
It is Friday afternoon, and my 15 year old daughter Victoria has just returned from a week-long school camp at Lake Eildon. It had an outdoors focus with plenty of hiking, rafting, team building activities and camping in tents. She came home very happy and very tired. She had been running around during the day and staying up late at night talking to her schoolmates. Interestingly, it was a camp with no electronic devices, as there was no power or reception to recharge from. This made me think of my life with less technology. How would I adjust without a phone? Challenge set – I decided that I would turn my mobile phone off for a weekend.
Farewelling My Neighbour
I have known Dave and his family since we moved into our neighbourhood in 1999. Our kids went to primary school together and we have shared many meals. More recently we have seen less of each other as we are both busy with our careers and our children are now at different schools. Recently, Dave sold his house to move a few kilometres away to be close to his children’s school. Last Friday was the final house inspection, with removalists coming Monday to move the remaining pieces of furniture.
I decided to contact Dave to wish him all the best for his move. With a mobile phone, it would be so easy to give Dave a cursory ring. But instead, I decided to grab some cold beers and walk to Dave’s house to say farewell. I found him exhausted from all the preparations for his move, having carted many boxes of goods to his new house. Over the next hour we talked about the good old times as we drank our beers. Interestingly his only concern about the move was how long it would take him to build a close community of neighbours, like the one he is leaving. After the beers were finished, we had a big bear hug and I departed.
Later, I reflected on how we don’t get to fully express ourselves when using technology. If you are not communicating eye-to-eye, you can’t register body language and you lose the emotional impact and physicality of the interaction. There’s no better way of building a relationship than with face-to-face interaction when you can actually see, hear and touch the other person.
My weekends involve much ‘picking up and dropping off’ of my girls at their various activities. It’s a big mixture of sporting activities, visiting friends and work. I have a standard routine where I will text the girls when I arrive at the destination, and they will come out to the car. This method of picking them up has developed over the years, especially since they both are at secondary school. I believe that my ‘texting alert’ originated from the girls’ desire to minimise any embarrassment that their Dad might cause. (!!!!)
Potentially embarrassing Dads, unite!
As I didn’t have a mobile phone this weekend, I needed to collect them personally from their activities. I was good to see the last few minutes of Victoria’s netball game, which they won 25 points to 23. It was very tense right up to the final siren, and the girls were elated with the result. Next week they will be playing in the finals and I will be there for the whole game. Later I collected my younger daughter Eliza from her friend’s house. I briefly spoke to her friend’s mum about arrangements for this weekend, and who will be doing the transport.
At the end of the weekend, I got my mobile phone out of the drawer and turned it on. While it was retrieving the emails and text messages received over the weekend, I reflected on what a wonderful piece of technology the mobile phone is, and how it has changed forever the way that people interact. But like all our tools, it needs to be used as necessary – and not as a substitute for face-to-face interaction.