On May 10th an employee from the technical support department of my website’s host server contacted me.
His words were unforgettable.
“Miss Stafford, either your site is under attack or something on there is going ‘viral.’”
He added that if the traffic to my site continued at this rate, we’d have to make changes.
I couldn’t help but smile through my tears. I knew my site was not under attack … I knew something quite wonderful was happening. “How To Miss a Childhood” was being shared all over the world … and hundreds of thousands people were coming to my site to read it.
In the days and weeks following the publication of that post, the traffic did not let up and changes did, in fact, have to be made. But I am not going to talk about the changes made to my site. I am going to talk about the changes made in the hearts and lives of those who read the post. Their stories keep coming. Every day for the past 60 days, their stories just keep coming.
In email messages and blog posts written by those affected by the article, words like “addiction,” “compulsion,” and “obsession” were used to describe their relationship with their mobile device (and/or computer).
But then the word “change” pops up. In the hundreds of responses I have received regarding that particular post, the word “change” is used over and over again.
I never realized what a beautiful word “change” was until used in this particular context—by people who have decided distraction is no longer going to sabotage their life or their relationships.
What I found especially amazing about the “change” occurring was its urgency. Many people reported that they took action to alter their phone habits even before coming to the end of the post.
The following remark from one parent echoed the response of many:
“I did not even make it to the end of this article. I was only half way through when I shut off my phone and literally ran across the park so I could play, talk, and connect with my children. I came back to the post later, after my kids were asleep, to read it in its entirety and tell you about the changes that have occurred in my family’s life since reading your post.”
And what’s more, these changes have not been short-term efforts with well-intentioned people reverting back to their distracted ways within a week. These changes have stuck. A more meaningful way of life has been found by millions of people who chose to put down the phone and connect to what really matters.
It gets even better.
The changes people are making in regards to their phone and computer usage have been noticed …
by the people who matter.
I’ve always believed children would notice if and when their parents made effort to reduce technology usage and initiate meaningful connection.
But I really had no idea how much.
Well, I do now.
I have been inspired by 60 days of face-to-face interactions with children in my community, as well as communications from young people around the globe. And these interactions have compelled me to write a follow-up to a post I wrote when I first started my journey entitled, “Someone Will Notice: The Inner Dialogue of a Child.”
Someone Has Noticed: The Inner Dialogue of A ChildIt used to be what you greeted first thing in the morning. Now you greet me. You say, “Good morning!” and “How did you sleep?” Your hands, no longer clinging to the device, are available to hug me, help me pour my cereal, and ruffle my hair. Thank you for greeting me. It used to be what you checked before bedtime. Now you check me. You make sure the covers are snug, the pages are turned, and the monsters are shooed away. Your voice and your presence, no longer given to someone on a screen, remains on my skin as I drift off to sleep. Thank you for checking me. It used to be what you talked to for hours on end. Now you talk to me. You ask me about my dreams, my drawings, my latest jokes, and darkest fears. With your eyes you listen, really listen, no longer summoned away by beeps and rings. Thank you for talking to me. It used to be what you held in your hand as you traveled room to room. Now you hold me. You hold me in your gaze, wrap me in your arms, and take my hand in yours. Your hands are free … often leaving the devices behind … to cover me with love. Thank you for holding me. It used to be your favorite dinner companion, travel mate, and entertainer. Now you seek me. Your face beams at me through both your laughter and tears as I show you all the things I can do and all the things I know. You say, “That other stuff can wait until later. Right now I am with you.” Thank you for seeking me. I used to think you couldn’t live without your electronic device. But now I see there is something more important in your life. It is me. I am what you can’t imagine life without. I am what you can’t bear to lose. I am what holds your attention. I am what illuminates your world. You are choosing me. And each time you do, I notice. And my heart overflows with joy. The phone is not so important anymore. My childhood is not something you are willing to sacrifice. Thank you for choosing me. ~Rachel Macy Stafford © **********************************************************
As we look forward to celebrating Independence Day here in the United States, let us also celebrate our efforts to free ourselves from the distractions of the modern age.
Take the “Hands Free” pledge and plan some time over the holiday to be fully present and connected to what really matters … whether it is 30 minutes, three hours, or the entire day, those minutes can make a difference—and I guarantee someone will notice.
The “Hands Free” Pledge
*For daily inspiration to let go of distraction and grasp what matters, join our inspiring community “The Hands Free Revolution.” We’re 15,500 strong and growing daily!
**For anyone interested in knowing the powerful influence of a parent’s phone usage in the presence of a child, I urge you to read this compelling article: “What Captures Your Attention Controls Your Life.” The first paragraph says it all.