Blog Archives

Put Down the Phone!

I Forgot My Phone

Yesterday my co-worker shared a video (see the link above) with me that caused me to truly re-assess the way I spend my time and life energy. At first glance, it just looks like a typical day with people doing typical things, and in fact, it is typical…for this day and age. In each scene of the video there are cell phones actively being used. The video captures the essence of what has happened in our technological world. We are so busy using our phones that we neglect to truly engage in life’s moments.

I’ve heard many people use the term “live in the NOW” and I began to embrace this philosophy when I realized that television, computers and social media were beginning to take over my life. However, I have to consistently remind myself of this mantra because it is so easy to pick up the gadgets or turn on the T.V. to “engage” in the events of the day. The video demonstrates the sad reality that many of us have become disengaged with humanity. Not only have we allowed our phones and cameras to dictate our way of life, but we are missing out on the beauty and joy of engaging in memorable life events.

Remember that couple that got engaged on the beach in the video? At the very moment that his bride-to-be said yes, embraced and attempted to kiss him, the young man was engaged in taking the, oh, so popular “Selfie” pic. The scene with the children at the playground…one little girl was engrossed in some type of activity on her phone while she swung back and forth on the swings. And those two groups of people who were celebrating a birthday and having dinner…most of those folks had their heads down, interacting with their phones or were busy snapping pics and probably uploading them to some social media page. It was appalling to see, but it was so true.

After watching the short video I was ashamed at how many times I had been guilty of some of the same things. In my response to my coworker, I said that it should be everyone’s New Year resolution to put the phone down sometimes, especially during life’s most precious and memorable moments. We must exercise balance when it comes to technology otherwise it will deprive us of a wonderful, full life. Remember to live in the Now and Engage in Life with Humanity. During this New Year, accept the gift of the Present and Live!

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Bullying: Our Experience

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month. During the course of this month I hope that readers will take this opportunity to participate in the discussion about this nationwide concern. All across the nation schools, organizations and the media are tackling this topic in hopes of making people aware of its prevalence and to provide strategies to reduce the occurrence of bullying behaviors. Although the issue of bullying has become a national issue in recent years, bullying is not a new issue. It has been going on since the beginning of time. However, in this day and age, bullying has evolved into a form of violence that not only plagues youth and young adults, but it occurs among adults in the workplace and other arenas. Additionally, with the evolution of technological advances, cyber bullying has emerged, causing a whirlwind of problems such as suicide, low self-esteem among youth and other forms of violence.

The issue of bullying is one that I know all too well. Not only have I known individuals and groups who have been affected by this issue, but I was a victim of bullying many years ago. My twin sister and I dealt with bullying during the 70’s and 80’s. Although times have changed and we did not have to experience cyber bullying, the effects were still the same. Hurt, fear, lack of confidence and low self-esteem are just some of the feelings that come to mind when I think about being bullied.

My sister and I did not deserve the pushing, shoving, name-calling, lies and rumors that took place in an effort to hurt us or provoke fights. I’ll never understand what went on in the minds of the elementary and middle school aged students who bullied us. I remember asking the loving adults in my life why this was happening and what had we done to deserve the hateful behaviors and comments. We simply wanted to make friends and go to and from school safely.

I’m sure that there are children (and adults) out there today who shared some of the same feelings I did thirty years ago. Last year one of my sons experienced bullying for the first time as he entered middle school. He recalled being fearful of going to the bus stop and to ride the bus. There were all sorts of “initiations” for the new comers and it scared him. Initially I had no idea that there was a problem. The school year got off to a good start. However as we entered the third or fourth week of school, he began to have asthma attacks and spent several days home from school. For the next month or so he would ask to stay home, citing that his stomach hurt or that he was not feeling well. One day it occurred to me that something was wrong. I had gone through a similar situation with my oldest son and it wasn’t until I opened up the lines of communication and asked questions that I was able to find out what was really going on.

My son revealed that kids were hitting others at the bus stop and on the bus. He, and the kids his age, were being told to switch seats and were often being “removed” if they did not get up. My son shared that one of his biggest fears was coming home after school, especially on Fridays, deemed “Freshman Fridays”. He shared that the older kids would chase them off of the bus and hit or beat them up as part of the “initiations”. I was horrified and it broke my heart to know that my son was experiencing this.

My son’s account of what was going on, mainly in my neighborhood at the bus stop, brought back the memories of my own experiences with bullying. I remembered that my mother advocated for my sister and me when we were bullied. She went so far as to go to the police regarding one incident. I truly believe that because of her actions, support, encouragement and positive affirmations, my sister and I are women who are now thriving in life. We have been able to move on, learn from the experiences and help others. That being said, I went straight to the school. We were blessed to receive the prompt support and response of my son’s school administration. When my son experienced another potential incident, this time during school, his sixth grade assistant principle stepped in again to squash the situation.

I hope that the bullying awareness and prevention goes beyond the month of October. In the meantime, I urge you to support the various activities, events and discussions that may take place in your community or online. Most of all, I encourage you to stand up for those who are experiencing bullying or may be potentially targeted.