Technology helps to build connections in your local community.
Social media gets so much negative buzz these days. Medical and educational authorities warn families about the harmful repercussions of too much screen time — behavioral, emotional and even physical. I agree with their concerns. And I am a big proponent of the old-fashioned phone call, snail mail and face-to-face conversation. To be honest, I’m kind of an old soul in that I wish I lived in the age of Downton Abbey (the first season) where I had to use a telegram to communicate, because I am truly intrigued with our roots and “the way things used to be.”
Since I can’t get into a time machine, I choose to embrace our digital era. Because let’s face it, it’s pretty cool what technology can do. And it’s made my life much easier as a mom and family member. You see, I have family in Louisiana, Oregon, New York, Alabama and North Carolina, and that’s just our immediate family. Geographically speaking, I’ve lived in six different cities in the past 10 years. Needless to say, we greatly appreciate the perks of living in the digital age.
If you knew me in high school, you may have seen me as the shy kid in honors math and biology classes. Certainly not the social butterfly writing for the school newspaper. And I believe the experiences in my adult life have facilitated a change during the past 15 years. Moving frequently has forced me out of my shell to meet friends and join social organizations. Being a mom who moves frequently has driven me to help other moms find the same community that I’ve craved in each new city I move to.
Our first daughter was born in Kentucky, hours from our nearest family. I know firsthand how isolating it feels to be a new mom in a place with no loved ones and how long it takes to experience that community feeling. But imagine trying to keep in touch with your family or find local resources without the internet and cell phones. It sounds pretty basic, but how grateful are we for this technology that we often criticize?
When our first daughter was about one year old, I met the co-founder of New Orleans Moms Blog somewhat haphazardly at The Green Fork. As my toddler was rolling on the floor with biodegradable straws, we laughed about bringing kids in public. After an interview process, I was accepted as a contributor for the blog. My scope of community expanded almost instantaneously as I was able to not only write for the blog to reach other moms, but I was also able to access support or information from seasoned, local moms. All of a sudden, I could ask a question about schools or dentists to a trusted group of women. Or I could go onto the website and find a post about how to bring toddlers to Mardi Gras. It was a new level of social media that I had never experienced.
New Orleans — Kenner to be exact — is my hometown. But after living away for many years and returning with an eight-month old, I felt out of place. Many of my friends had moved away and the friends that remained didn’t have kids of their own yet. So, I was left with the challenge to either meet new mom friends or merge my mom-life into my old life. New Orleans Moms Blog accelerated my transition back home faster than I could have imagined. The daily blogs and Facebook group not only directed me into family activities, but I created lasting friendships through the sponsored play dates and events.
Two years later, we moved to Tennessee where I affiliated with Chattanooga Moms Blog. Pregnant with our second child, I was even more grateful for the community of women willing and ready to help our family adjust to their beloved city. I had moms private messaging me offering to bring meals or watch my older daughter. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the warmth and hospitality these women demonstrated to us in a time of need.
While I love all of the advances in technology, I do feel that they can be invasive, competitive and sometimes depressing. So, I’ve created limits. For one, I make a rule that during my “rest time” I turn off my phone and Fitbit watch. I have also learned to move the Facebook icon off the primary screen of my phone so that I have to purposely look for it — rather than it looking for me. There are some days I rarely look at my phone or check my email. This makes me feel in control of the digital age and appreciate it for what it is — a way to enhance my life and pay it forward to help others.