Boundaries? What boundaries?
I have a question…what do boundaries look like for you? There is no magic set of boundaries that work for everyone, which, I find frustrating. How nice would it be if we could just say: "this is how you should always interact with family" or "this is how you should manage the work/personal life balance," or "this is how you interact with the opposite sex," etc. But, it's not that easy. Everyone has different needs, and different seasons of life call for different boundaries.
One set of boundaries I have been contemplating of late is how I interact with technology. When I first started my most recent job (almost three years ago), I remember all I wanted to do was impress the people for which I was working. I wanted them to see I was 100% in, that I was there for whatever they needed, and if that meant answering a email at 9 p.m. on a Friday, that is what I was going to do. However, I overlooked that my boss worked on a different schedule than me, she often left early to pick up kids, and then got back to email after they went to bed. Another co-worker was working, doing grad school, and had a busy family life as well and so he would email at random times as he worked. I however, worked 9-5 each day, and then kept right on doing work through the evening as it popped up. After a few times of me answering emails late at night, or on a weekend, my boss called me out on it. She encouraged me that I needed to set boundaries, that she loved my enthusiasm, but if I kept up the pace I was going, I would be burned out before I was 30. I can never thank her enough for that talk. (and the few reminders she had to give me as I worked on it!) She was so right, I needed boundaries. Now, I don't have my work email on my iPhone, I don't answer emails at night or on weekends, and I try to leave work at work as much as possible. I love what I do, and I want to be a team player and do what is needed, but that comes a whole lot easier when I have had down time over the weekend and am able to come back with a fresh energy on Monday.
So, recently, I have started to look at the same conversation but have moved the lens to my personal life. What does it look like to have boundaries with technology in my personal life? We are constantly connected people. Personally, I have two email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and let's not even get started on texting. I am always inundated with new messages, new tweets, new pictures, new everything. All. The. Time.
I often stop to consider what my constant connection does to my relationships with people and with God. I am so constantly distracted and elsewhere, am I really engaged with what matters? Am I pouring into those around me? Am I am spending as much time with God as I do on Facebook? (that would be a no most days.) This time there is no person on the other line holding me accountable to not email at 9 p.m.; there is no person to remind me that I can walk away from all the places I am plugged in to. I have to remind myself to leave social media alone some times, the world won't end if I don't check my Twitter feed for a few days. Nothing will crumble if I don't email someone back for 48 hours. The stars won't fall from the sky if I don't post a picture to Instagram. I live like I believe those things will happen and for me, it's time to start believing that there are things more important that what is on a screen in front of me.
Another piece of those boundaries for me is starting to look at what I am posting and why I am posting it. Do I post status updates to make people jealous, or to encourage the people around me? Do I post a new picture on Instagram to show people the awesome place I am eating at tonight, or am I posting a picture to give people a glimpse of the glory that is all around us every day? I want my intentions to be pure and for those around me to see a bit of the God I serve, not my own selfish self. I hope in the coming months that I am able to gain clarity on what it looks like for me to engage with these things in a healthy way. I love seeing what people are up to on Facebook, or the beautiful images from around the world on Instagram. I just want to make sure I am not losing myself in the midst of those things.
So, I am interested, what boundaries do you have in place with technology? How do you keep from going crazy with the constant stream of info that resides in your hand?