I will be the first to admit that I don’t know how I would function without my cell phone. Literally. I lost it for about 45 seconds last week and my entire life flashed before my eyes. And by life, I mean passwords, screenshots, blog ideas, videos, saved text messages, inspirational quotes – you totally get it. Some days, I am hooked up to social media like an oxygen tank – mostly for work, but also for articles, ideas, group connections and, okay, general observations and occasional nosiness. (There’s no sense in me writing anything at all if I’m not going to be completely honest.) 

But lately it’s been hitting me HARD: this whole “face-in-our-devices-so-we-don’t-have-to-enage-in-personal-contact” or “make-our-lives-look-perfect-on-the-outside-when-things-are-falling-apart-on-the-inside” kind of thing. (Sidebar: I just realized that hyphenating long descriptions might be the original hashtag.)­­

I’m at a really nice beach this week and everywhere I look, people are cell-phoning instead of living. Maybe it’s so huge on my radar because I’m not focused on doing work and running errands and having regular adult-like responsibilities this week. I’m here to write and relax and reboot my soul with the waves and the sand and these real, live palm trees. Or maybe it’s because I turned another year older and I see and feel things even deeper. But maybe it’s because it’s getting worse. Much, much worse.

Yesterday, at a very busy resort-y restaurant, I watched a woman halt everyone at her table from digging in to the majestic mound of nachos they had obviously been waiting ions for so she could get the perfect angled-shot of those cheesy chili beauties. I bet $100 that the hash tags were #foodporn #vacationlife #mynachosarebetterthanyournachos. She took several selfies with her young daughters, prompting them to get off their phones and force “I’m really having a great time” smiles. The real kicker for me, however, was when she stopped the sweaty, in-the-weeds waiter to video her family in front of the erupting-volcano-margarita-making exhibit that only explodes every 90 minutes. If you are picturing this scenario you are realizing that none of the other guests around me could see the “show.”  Now it wasn’t like missing the Pope or sitting behind the tallest guy at Wicked on Broadway, but you know what I mean.

Is this the new normal? Are we to expect it and even excuse it? It’s personal I guess, like everything else. I answer messages quickly so I don’t forget and look rude, I “like” posts because I want to show people I care about them and their lives, and I am rarely without my phone, particularly during work hours and when my child is out of my direct line of sight.

But I DO know I want to do less device-ing and more living. I also know that I have to continually teach my teenage daughter to do the same and help her navigate the world of Instagram, You Tube and Google. Can you imagine having to figure all that business it out while simultaneously dealing with puberty? It makes my head hurt. I am going to date myself here, but I didn’t have a cell phone or internet access until I was 27. TWENTY-SEVEN. Follow your kids on Instagram and Facebook. Follow their friends, too. Grab their phones and look at their text messages and their apps. This is not a violation of their privacy; this is protecting their childhood. 

We can’t control the way the world is moving, but we can certainly choose how we react to it and the way we want live in it. #I’mGoingToGetOffMySoapboxNowAndGoToTheOcean. 

Juli Schafer

A native of Lancaster, PA, Juli has lived in the Fredericksburg, VA area for 11 years. She and her husband of 15 years own a restaurant and a cupcake shop. (How did that happen, she jokes all the time since she doesn’t bake or cook, so don’t ask for any recipes or tips.) Her true loves are writing, marketing and event planning, Jesus and her 14-year old daughter. She proudly accepts her crazy and invites you to join her....crazy is NOT a bad word: 'Crazy' –“Full of cracks or flaws. Unusual. Distracted with desire or excitement. Absurdly fond; passionately preoccupied.” She is working on building a stronger faith, finding her true path, and being a brighter light. You can find her at http://sincerelyjuli.com/