For days, the Taz had locked himself up in his bedroom, staring aimlessly at his computer screen. If it weren’t for the blue glow underneath his door, I wouldn’t even know he was home. And me? I was stuck on the living room floor with my phone in my hands, doing nothing productive in favor of playing mindless word games or checking my Facebook newsfeed for the umpteenth time.
Both of us were escaping. He was leaving the real world in favor of a virtual place where no one told him he smelled and needed a shower, that his room needed to be cleaned, and that his homework wasn’t going to check itself. I was escaping from the news of our company drastically changing, wrapping the last of the presents in my room, and the pile of clothes that weren’t going to fold themselves.
Eventually I did tear myself away from my distractions and saw the Taz’s after-dinner chores that still needed to be done. I knocked on his door and opened it, finding him mesmerized by whatever he was building onscreen.
“I need you to go back downstairs and take the recycling out and put a bag in the trash can. Also, these clothes need to go in the laundry room so I can wash them,” I told him. He sighed loudly, reluctantly leaving the desk and grabbing the clothes off his floor. I went back in the living room to rifle through the already wrinkly clothes.
Ten minutes passed when I walked in the kitchen. The recycling was still overflowing, and the garbage can still held no bag.
“Taz!” I called up to him. No answer. I went back upstairs and found him at his computer. “Taz, I really need you to finish what I asked you to do,” I told him.
“But I did!” he insisted.
“You didn’t. Remember the garbage and recycling?” And his mouth dropped.
“Oh yeah!” he said, jumping up. He raced back down the stairs and grabbed the box of recycling to take outside. When he was done, he went back upstairs. And of course, the garbage can still held no bag. One more reminder had him stomping downstairs, ripping a bag from under the sink, and angrily stuffing it in the empty trash can. But before he could race back upstairs, I stopped him.
“You’ve been on that computer an awful lot,” I pointed out to him. “I think it’s time for a break.”
“No mom! Please!” he cried, his face screwing up as he tried to convince me otherwise.
“Taz, you know how you’re having a hard time remembering all the things I’m telling you? I think being on that computer is making you forgetful.”
I was speaking from experience. My own head seemed to hold a huge block inside it, keeping me from being able to think clearly. I didn’t feel as connected to Mr. W or the kids. I was having a hard time concentrating. I wasn’t getting anything done. I knew it was the escape into virtual reality that was the culprit. Spending the whole day being on my A game at work and then coming home only to be back on the computer or my iPhone was prohibiting me from actually relaxing or being productive.
“I declare tomorrow a technology-free day,” I told him. And just as he was about to complain some more, I told him, “Myself included.”
“But how will you do your job?” he asked me.
“Not at work. I have to use the computer. But at home. I am not allowed to check Facebook or play games on my phone at all tomorrow,” I promised him. He lightened up a little. But then it fell again.
“But what will I do?” he asked me. I encouraged him to bring his book he was reading home so he could finish it. And I reminded him about the holidays coming up and he still needed to make something for his father.
And me? I’m thinking about the wrapping I’m going to get done, the annual Christmas story I need to plan out, and most of all, a fiancé and several kids who might like a little bit of my company.
Do any of you ever detox from technology? What do you do instead of plugging in?