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As the kids go back to school this week, the evidence of Autumn is everywhere! The mornings are a little cooler, the night comes earlier, and routines all over the world begin to take a new shape. Recently, my husband and I decided to start attending different churches. Not settling on one specific church as of yet but eager to appreciate their various messages and insights.
This past Sunday took a similar theme, as we pondered the old that has passed to the new that is to come. We cannot change the past, yet we desire so much for our past to be different. By choice, we can look forward to the future, armed with the information and experiences we learned. We are often moved from the old to the new, many times without our permission. As kids all over the world begin a new chapter of their education journey, 'new' for them will be continual. New lessons. New adventures. New habits.
In our last post, we asked the readers of Ask Ada if they had enough of the old? The current mainstream social technology spaces play out specific habits among all of us in humanity. No one can escape the grips of the habitual habits embedded in all of our beings. Most technology platforms are betting on the human habit cycle.
In fact, almost all algorithms in social media today bet on two things: Your insecurity and your habits. Habits are numbing, working on embedded actions/memory inside your being. Habits can be terrific, like brushing your teeth. Healthy habits are possible when accompanied by balance, reason, and awareness. Yet today so much of what we witness is old habits based on fear. If I just stay the same somehow this will pass and I will not be moved to change.
Yesterday we heard from one parent who was very concerned about social media. His daughter is 11, he feels pressure from her, his own friends and everyone in between to give her access to social media. He wants to control all aspects of what she takes in and quite rightly many parents feel the same way. He has no more solutions than the next person when it comes to raising kids in social media. His question quite simply: What on earth should he do about social media?
Many parents want to micromanage all the content their children receive and ask for more tools to control their children’s lives. I am with you parents, control of the situation has been a plaguing theme for much of my life. Yet does greater control lessen our fears and move us to love?
With all new chapters comes hope for a better tomorrow. New journeys contain many twists and turns, yet underpinning all new starts is the value of hope. During the passionate message we heard on Sunday, moving away from old to new ways of being, thinking and living, I was reminded of the value of hope. When watching the excitement of my two girls prepare for their first day of school, I was taken back to my own new chapters that the first day of school brings.
So much optimism, so much hope. “This will be that year,” I would often think. The year I create new habits. The year that all the old feelings will go away and the new ones will take shape. My teenager asked me one fundamental question as she begins her first day at high school: How can I create 'new' mom? How can I make high school different from my other first days at school?
Children have an amazing capacity to ask the very questions we all seek answers to. Children mirror back to us the longing we as adults still have in our hearts. Their hopeful spirit reminds each parent of who we once were, where we have been on our journey. Sadly it can also take us back to the old places of pain that exist in each of us. When children are born into the world, they often poke the pain that resides in many parents from their own childhood.
I sometimes wonder if the cycle of life, the purpose of a family is to experience pain but to also experience great healing. Families show us who we are, where we have been and where we can also go. Families are where we can learn about hope.
Creating new tech habits, navigating this new digital age and letting go requires the primary value of hope. At Mazu, our team has picked 12 values that we all feel are the foundation of the work we do. Hope was one of the debated values as though it seemed passive in its approach. Yet I would argue hope takes courage. Hope has more to do with letting go than holding on.
Hope has more to do with faith than logic. Hope is the foundation of new. As I told my daughter, new chapters are not great leaps every day, they are bite size baby steps to navigate the new journey ahead. We turn from what we know to the hope of what we may learn. Technology navigation is a lot like that. We assess what we think we know and we make baby steps toward a new way to navigate.
At the crux of many of our worries about technology invasion with our kids lies the fear of the unknown. Fear of what they are receiving. Fear of what we may or may not be able to control. In our current society, fear is in charge. Fear is about old habits. The old taunts of our past that tell us that this time things will not be different. Be afraid of the unknown, be afraid of your neighbours, be afraid of technology, be afraid.
As my dear friend Anita reminds me, God did not give you a spirit of fear. For believers and non-believers alike, we are often ruled in our being by one over another. The ultimate fear versus love debate is a war of the ages.
Many times in our daily lives, we are either haunted by the old or fearing the new. In both cases, it is difficult to find hope when this beast is activated. In social technology spaces, fear is the all mighty currency. The more we fear, the more we live in the past (old), the more we stay in judgment, the more we prevent hope from doing her magic.
So let’s make a new plan for our social technology lives. Yes, parents, we must pave the way first. We must be first in this new chapter so our children can model that behaviour from us. Here are 3 baby steps to carve out a new path of hope and love in technology:
Do not under any circumstances argue with strangers online, if you have not physically seen a person in the past month. Do not share your opinion or disagreement with them.
Share love 3 times a day online with people you know. This does not involve a “like” button. It requires the written word. Send them a message of love. The like button is for marketing and sales for tech companies, do not feed that beast.
Disconnect from your phone entirely for hours each day, every evening. Preferably as soon as supper begins!
These 3 simple rules of embracing the new chapter of social technology life are all about how we make new paths. Bringing hope into your life is a choice. Focusing on love is a choice. Feed the beast of love that is burning inside you and let’s all create the NEW.
If you are seeking advice in the world of tech and how it affects you and your family, we encourage you to send an email to Askada@mazufamily.com, and we will do our best to provide practical, insightful advice.
Janice Taylor is a social entrepreneur, mother, speaker, author and online safety advocate. Her credo of compassion, community and caring drives the vision of her company Mazu, a safe and fun online platform for families. Mazu gives parents a place to communicate, play and connect with their children in a starter social media environment.