Who’s the Tool?

Who’s the Tool?

At a recent talk, I was asked about social media, self image, and stress/pressure. “Is it a problem?”

There could be any number of answers to this question. I suppose it depends on who you ask and on what day.

The guiding questions I’ve come to ask myself about my own use of social media (and the bigger general landscape of “technology”): Who is the tool? Is it something that is serving me, or am I being used by it?

If it’s the latter, something likely needs to change.

I think back to 3-4 years ago when my youngest kiddos were both home and I’d find myself on my phone, scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, and email whenever I found myself bored — and realized I felt emptier and emptier the more I scrolled (and worse about myself the more photos I saw of the most likely fabulous lives of everyone else). And somehow I couldn’t tear myself away from the screen. When I realized how annoyed I was feeling when a child would want my attention and that they were beginning to imitate talking and playing on the phone all of the time, a light bulb went on — I had become the tool.

I deleted the FB and Twitter apps and turned off notifications for most things on my phone. I still look at FB on my computer, though I pay more attention to how much time I do. And if I catch myself mindlessly scrolling and starting to feel worse about my own life? That’s a red flag for me to close the tab and do something else, probably not on my computer or phone.

I can’t say what is right for someone else, though I can say I’m no longer the tool in my relationship with my phone and technology. I’ve got much more brainpower that I can spend in ways that better serve me (and the world). And that feels good.

Who is the tool in your relationship? (And if we don’t want our children to be the tool, it’ll help if we’re not the tool.)

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