Erik on Technology

I’m so sorry we had to cancel the radio show last night. I hope all of you got my last minute message on the blog and all my social media and didn’t stay on the line forever waiting. We’ll be on the air next Thursday, though.

So here I am in the beautiful Texas Hill Country in a little town called Kerrville. Since I was young, it was considered the quintessential retirement spot for the Lone Star State and for good reason. Now, most of the population is elderly, so funeral homes, clinics and hospitals abound. Another plus about Kerrville is that it’s close to the town of Fredericksburg. Main Street is so charming, lined withe quaint mom and pop shops and restaurants. You should see the place around Christmas. One stroll down the main drag and you’re full of holiday spirit.

So what have Rune and I done so far? We’ve done what we usually do when we first come to a camping spot. We went out for Mexican breakfast and made a trip to Walmart. There we got a driver drill for Rune to install a paper towel holder, a cozy blanket for Bella and some screws. Okay, so it’s boring so far, but as soon as Rune does what he needs to do and I finish this post, we’ll take Bella for a walk and then head to Fredericksburg to sight see and eat lunch. Then we’ll cool dinner at home, sit around a campfire and chill. It’s going to get down to 43 degrees tonight, so we’ll be clad in caps, gloves and parkas. Cozy! Then before bed, we usually watch Netflix. Now, we’re into Nikita, Longmire and Quantico. 

Now that I’ve put you all to sleep, wake up and check out what Erik says about technology:

Kim: Hello once again!

Me: Hello. How are you? Erik, hi, sweetie!

Erik (in a sappy mom’s voice): Hi, sweetie!

Kim: He went up and kissed the screen.

Me: Aw. You silly boy.

Kim laughs.

Me: The last session, we were talking about mindfulness, so I thought it’d be a really good segue to start talking about technology. Now, we’re so obsessed with technology that we’ve even cocooned ourselves with texting and all that, not really interacting with people. So, I’d like to know, are there good aspects to all that? Is it all bad? What can you tell me about our technology and social media obsessed world?

Erik: There’s good and bad. There’s a reason we’re experiencing this numb state of mind.

Kim: He’s showing me an image of everyone as zombies.

Me: Yeah, seriously.

Kim: They’re just not awake.

Erik: Yes, most of the time. The good in it is that it’s very straightforward.

Kim: With his body movements and gestures, he’s very much being like a little boy.

She mimics him with shoulders slouched forward, head up a bit.

Kim: It’s the way he holds himself. I can see his collarbones.

Erik: It’s very straightforward. It can connect you when you’re not connected—

Kim: He’s talking about distance, geographical distance.

Erik: It’s great if it’s used in that respect.

Me: It makes the world smaller like I’m Skyping with you and you’re in Ohio and I’m in Texas.

Erik: There are so many benefits because you’re able to share views and understanding. There are so many benefits. Think about how many times you jump online and you see an article or you want to read about something, so you get on the Internet through your phone or computer. Social media and technology itself has contributed greatly to our own enlightenment and our evolution as mankind because information is so readably available. Just having that information available is expansive for people. People experience expansion. There’s also a bit fat downside. The primary one is the way it can be used to spread hate. That can be just as strong a ripple effect as spreading love. Oh man, it’s so messed up! Just think about this for a minute. Let’s say someone is sharing a post in Facebook, and that post that they shared is about something negative. They share it saying, “I want this to change in the world. Why can’t this kind of thing stop?” Actually, they’re just contributing to it.

Me: I see.

Erik: Anyway, another downside is we forget to talk to each other; we forget to acknowledge each other’s existence.

Kim: It’s funny because he’s going to point me out as an example. Last night, I was on the couch on my phone checking emails, going through all my stuff online. Kids were in bed. Husband was watching TV next to me. I could feel my husband’s energy. He got real pissy with me like, “Put that damn thing down.” He’s a farm boy. He could care less about technology. So I sat there and asked myself, trying to be mindful, ugh, and I thought, ‘What would I be doing if I didn’t have my phone right now? I’d probably be having a conversation. I’d probably be engaging in whatever we were watching, and that bond would strengthen.’ Instead, I chose to be on my phone for that time and that allowed for that separation.

Erik: You’re welcome. I love picking on you.

Kim laughs.

Kim: Just last night, I was thinking about that, how it just creates so much divide.

Erik (In a really soft tone): We don’t even consider being present with somebody sacred anymore. There are still some cultures in the world where just sitting together, being together is a sacred thing.

Me: Kim, you could have texted him, “I love you.”

Kim (laughing): I should have!

Me: That way you could have had your cake and eaten it, too. But it is weird how technology can both divide us and connect us.

Erik: It’s all about the experience and what we’re learning from it right now. We’re very aware that it creates the divide but where the bottom falls out is making the choice to be conscious enough and say, “I’m going to choose this over my phone right now,” or “I’m going to choose being present, being physical.” That’s where the bottom falls out because we’re aware but no one is making the choice to—

Me: Do something about it.

Erik: Or not. Some people don’t want to interact. They introvert very well through their technical gadgets. It serves its purpose both good and bad.

Me: Do you have any advice? For example with children, when should we start allowing them to engage in technology? How old should they be, or does it matter?

Erik: That would be up to the parents, but you gotta be smart about it. Think about what we’re breeding. If we start young and say, “Have at it. Here’s a phone; here’s a tablet. Play. Do whatever you want,” then they have access. You know their little fingers don’t ever stop, and they could be exposed to things they don’t understand. They could then accept things that shouldn’t be accepted based on what they might see on the Internet. That’s where you have to use your own discretion and discipline to make that choice, but we are starting too young. In my opinion, we’re starting too young because we’re teaching them to rely on something external, “Here, have this tablet,” to fulfill their time rather than relying on inner things.

Me: And go out and play! We use these devices as electronic babysitters.

Erik: Yeah, and it deprives them of even knowing their own creativity.

Me: That’s true. If they don’t go out and play with their friends in the street or wherever, then they don’t learn skills like sharing, compromise, conflict resolution and leadership. All those things are so important. You don’t learn that sitting in front of a tablet playing Angry Birds.

Erik: Yeah, social skills and respect, too. Just out of love, you should show respect. If someone comes to your house but you don’t even get your face out of your smart device to say, “Oh, hey. Glad you stopped over.” It’s really important to keep that side of who we are. We’re physical beings, spiritual humans, and that’s the essence of who we are first, but we’re forgetting that. Technology is taking us to a whole other place where we don’t even acknowledge what’s around us anymore. It also divides us from knowing our own selves.

Me: That’s true. Yeah.

Erik: Just like you said, we don’t even know what situations we’re comfortable in because when we’re in that situation, most of the time we’re checking our phone.

Me: So, it robs us of our mindfulness?

Erik: Yeah.

Me: Okay, so it’s not like we’re reviewing our inner landscape, using tools like emotional honesty, evaluating ourselves and others and the environment and situation or circumstances. We’re not doing that when we’re on Facebook and stuff. But those cute little videos on YouTube! I can’t stop!

Kim laughs.

Erik: Don’t get stressed out and think it takes so much energy into being mindful all the time. It doesn’t. Just be there. Show up for yourself.

Me: I’m sure it gets easier with practice. Well, do you think we should have rules? Like my number one rule is no technology at the dinner table. Of course I text them to come downstairs for dinner, but… Any other rules we should set for our children or ourselves?

Kim: I’ll share because he points at me.

Me: Poor you.

Kim laughs.

Kim: He’s showing me a memory from a couple of nights ago. I feel like such an ass, but I learn from the experience of it. Just the other night, my son was in his room playing on his X-box. My father-in-law came over, and my son didn’t even come out of his room to say, “Hey, Pap. Thanks for stopping by. How are you?” He didn’t even know Pap stopped in. So we were like, “Buddy, you need to be more aware and get off your game and acknowledge when someone stops by to say hi.” He wasn’t punished, but we helped him see that that’s important.

Me: To be aware.

Erik: Just respect other’s presence with you. Respect that they’re present with you. There is so much value in that. Put your phone down for 5 minutes and respect that they chose to be with you. Respect that coexistence and get those gadgets out of your face.

Me: So remember that the presence of another is sacred. That’s the bottom line, and you have to ask yourself, ‘Will I violate that sacredness if I ignore them or do I want to embrace that sacredness and engage in conversation or just sit in the presence of.”

Kim: Exactly. He’s getting really deep when he’s talking about this.

Erik: Hopefully, you can recognize this in your own self but in any other human, if you take a quick minute knowing that God exists in them, isn’t that sacred enough?

Me: Ah!

Erik: To stop and say hi, t just go a little bit deeper. We’re afraid and it takes too much energy. We want the quick and easy and the right now. We’re instant gratification people, and if it doesn’t satisfy us right now, our interests just go, “poof.”

Me: So, “God or Minecraft. God or Minecraft. “God or those little hopping goats YouTube videos.” Hm, it’s so hard.

Erik: Gee, Mom, when you put it like that. I hope people get the message!

Me: I hope so! Anything else? What about time limits for people? Should there be any of that? Adults or children. How many hours should be dedicated to the Internet and social media outside of the job?

Erik: Yeah, outside of the job, 1-2 hours max. You should use your time living and being present in the moment with everything around you. The phones and other gadgets take you away from that. You should have discipline and limit yourself.

Me: And kids should probably not go on the Internet or use social media unless they’ve played outside or done something outdoors like exercise or free play.

Kim: He says—

Me: Or do something creative, anything creative.

Erik: Exactly. Something to foster their own growth. Being outside, being creative, painting, drawing, coloring, whatever, but something that fosters their own growth and allows their own creativity to still exist. If they’ve cleaned their rooms or done something for themselves, then sure. Fine, but make sure they remember to connect to themselves and find that just as valuable as video games.

Me: All right. That sounds good. Thank you, Erik. Thank you, Kim.

Kim: You’re so welcome.

Erik (Putting his hands on his hips): Anytime, Mama.

Kim: He’s being so animated and goofy today.

Me: Hey, I got a visit from you the other day. I felt tingling, so much tingling on my left leg so thank you for that little visit. I said hi.

Erik blows me kisses.

Kim: He gets emotional when you say that.

Erik: Thank you for mentioning it.

Me: Come over tonight and sit in my lap, and we’ll snuggle like we used to.

Erik: Consider it done.

Me: All right. Now millions of people know that, so… Love you guys!

Kim: Love you, guys! Bye bye!

Me: Bye.

Things have changed!

Things have changed!

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Elisa Medhus

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