Lessons From Emma

 It’s been raining a lot. My dog is on my mind because she’s not like me. I’ve got a revision to work on so being trapped indoors is kind of ideal. Emma doesn’t see it that way. Emma’s needs are simple – eat, sleep, play, cuddle. These are the ingredients for her happy life. She has taken an active dislike of any electronic devices because she recognizes that these objects take my attention away from her. How do I know this? Because she throws her tennis ball against my computer, drops her Kong onto my laptop keyboard when I’m on the couch, or drops any number of heavy toys on my feet if I’m checking email on my phone. Emma, being a dog, is inherently honest about what she wants. Attention. It may sound funny coming from a web site but we all need to turn off our electronics on a regular basis. Turn off the phones, computers, music players…anything that distracts us from the real world. It’s good and healthy to remember there IS a real world filled with real live people (and pets) – people we love and care about, who love and care about us. When we immerse ourselves in the virtual world it’s all too easy to take the real world for granted. It’s completely common now to see two people out to dinner who don’t speak to each other because they’re both texting, checking email, or whatever on their smart phones. They may even be texting each other. All in the name of accessibility. There’s a price we pay for all of this access. It’s alienation. By spending more and more time favoring digital over physical we isolate ourselves. As writers, we’re a little too good at that without the electronic props. You could be surrounded by people but if your attention is focused on a screen you may as well be alone. You may have several hundred Facebook friends and still be lonely because none of them can give you a physical hug. And it’s not just you who feels the impact of your isolation, especially if you have a family. I’m just as guilty as anyone. I’m trying to build a web presence, after all, while holding down a full time job and balancing family, friends and taking care of myself. It’s not unusual for me to be on a computer and two different smart phones simultaneously. And it started to take its toll, both on me and my family. Even Emma. My family missed me, regardless of whether or not I was physically home. So we’re trying something new around my house. We’ve instituted “unplugged Sundays” – no computers, cell phones, iPads, etc. It’s only been a couple of weeks but it seems to be working. We all feel closer. We even went out to dinner last night and forgot to bring our phones.  

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