By Susan Lesh
David and I recently spent a weekend in Philadelphia with friends and I didn’t take my computer. I did have my cell phone, and although I have Facebook on it, I don’t have email. That appeared to limit my rabbit-hole diving. You know, where you open up one email and respond to it, then open another and have to look something up to respond, and on and on, and then of course clear all the junk email that you can’t seem to stop from arriving in your inbox, and all of a sudden it’s an hour later and your tea is cold, you’re in a bad mood, and you don’t really feel as though you accomplished anything! I did log on when I got home and felt a little guilty that I hadn’t responded to some emails, but luckily, nothing catastrophic happened.
I generally keep my phone in silence mode. I work in a school, and phones are a no-no; I inevitably forget to put it back on unless I am anticipating a call. When I was growing up, there were no answering machines, of course, and my dad was a minister, so the phone always had to be answered. I admit to screening calls now because there are just some times that I don’t want to answer the phone. My family is sometimes annoyed with me because I don’t answer the phone immediately, but they’re used to it by now.
I do still feel a pull to look at Facebook, mostly to see pictures of my larger family and see what they’re doing. I absolutely feel closer to my cousins and a part of their lives during the year and have reference points when we only see each other once a year in the summer. I have consciously limited reading the political posts, so I’m not constantly upset. I did notice that at one point in the weekend, everyone in the room was on their phone or computer, and for me it was Facebook.
Back to the weekend spent with our friends. We mostly talked. We mostly did not look at our phones. We had a great time and I felt relaxed and refreshed coming home. And I think some of that was because of the limited electronics. I will try to remember that in the future.
Susan Lesh is president of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.