Last week, my husband decided he needed to get a phone that would let him send texts (but nothing else…) which sparked off a frantic round of ‘musical mobile phones’ in my family.
When the music stopped, I’d ended up with my daughter’s old phone, she got my husband’s old phone, and everyone was happy. Then that particular daughter started popping off to her room for ‘quiet’ time with alarming regularity.
I thought to myself: ‘Maybe she’s stressing out about the end of year play….Maybe she’s overwhelmed by all the bat mitzvah prep…Maybe one of her teachers is giving her a hard time…’ Then one morning, I went to wake her up – and she was already awake, playing on her new phone.
The penny dropped.
Turns out, there’s some really cool zoo game on my husband’s old (apparently not as kosher as it looked) phone, where you have to keep feeding the animals every day, or they die.
My kid was hooked on feeding the electronic gorillas.
Now, I’ve learned enough to know:
1) Confiscating the phone is only going to backfire
2) God is using the gorillas to show me something about me and my life
3) I HATE how slimy modern technology actually is.
I explained to my daughter that she was addicted to her phone, and she agreed.
“But if I don’t feed the gorillas, they’re going to die!” she told me plaintively.
In the meantime, she’d been so caught up in feeding the gorillas she’d forgotten to feed her real life hamster for a week, and it was looking a little peaky, to put it mildly. But I digress.
I left my daughter, and made my way back to the laptop, that’s been consuming a bit too much of my life this past week. As I plugged in the internet stick for the 4th time that day, my husband raised a quizzical eyebrow at me (I had huge internet addictions 8 years’ ago, and that’s one of the reasons I got it out of the house.)
“I have to check my emails,” I explained plaintively.
Then it hit me: I sounded just like my daughter, caught up in the fantasy land of feeding pretend gorillas.
Maybe the excuse was a bit more convincing, but I could see it was exactly the same stupid principle at play: If I don’t check my emails every few hours, all my online opportunities and connections are going to die….
But really? They’re not. And if that does actually happen, then they were probably as genuinely useful and real as my daughter’s gorillas.