I’ve been tentative about sharing this blog post, but I figure that my story and insights may help other people.
Earlier this year I experienced a miscarriage. It was devastating to say the very least. My family and I were heart-broken. I only feel like I can now talk about this publicly. I wasn’t nervous about sharing because I think it’s a taboo topic- that’s definitely not the case. I actually discovered through this experience how so many people don’t know how to talk about miscarriage, but also about how many friends had also endured the same experience, but had never felt like they could share the experience. I finally feel comfortable sharing my experience and what I learnt through the ordeal.
So deep breath, here goes…
After my miscarriage I had some recovery time in hospital and bed. So in between naps and crying I did what most of us would do and I reverted to my phone. I’d scroll through social media, respond to emails and reply to SMS whilst ‘resting’.
My phone was a source of support
My phone offered me an incredible support network. Yes, my husband, kids, family and friends were my first support network and I’m so grateful for their love and care (especially for the supply of meals, help with kids and cuddles).
But my phone also offered me a support network I otherwise may not have had… especially when I was crying at 2am. I received calls, voice memos, messages from beautiful friends and family who lived overseas and who so generously held space for me (Alex and Nikki I’m looking at you). I used my phone to read blog posts about how to recover from a miscarriage, to go on an (endless) search for answers as to why the miscarriage may have occurred. I also spent a lot of time binge watching Netflix (I’m too embarrassed to admit what my series of choice was… all I’ll say is #rhwbh).
If I’m really honest, I also used my phone to numb out- I could momentarily escape from the emotional pain (there was no escaping the physical pain) as I scrolled through my phone. Two minutes quickly turned to ten minutes and I’d had a brief period where I wasn’t dealing with my big, intense feelings. Is this an ‘ideal’ way to process emotions? Probably not, but it was a coping mechanism for a short period of time.
My phone was a source of my suffering
At first it was fine, but then I noticed that reaching for my phone actually made me feel worse. I’d open social media and I’d see friends sharing their pregnancy or birth announcements. Whilst I was genuinely happy for their news, I have to admit that it was also really hard to see at times, especially when my feelings and grief were so raw. Am I suggesting that people shouldn’t share their baby news (or any exciting announcement for that matter) on social media? Absolutely not- I would never deny anyone the opportunity of sharing their news because of my emotional state. In fact, that’s one of the benefits of social media- being able to quickly and easily distribute information to family and friends.
However, the more I scrolled the worse I began to feel because I noticed more and more pregnancy and baby posts. Thanks to Google history and social media algorithms, my social media feeds were being filled with posts and ads about pregnancy and babies. I’d made some online maternity purchases before the miscarriage, so my social media feed was overflowing with other related ads. My inbox was full of email confirmations about my shipping orders. It was all too much!
One of the reasons that we find it so hard to put down our devices (and I explain this in my parent seminars) is because technology is now highly personalised. The posts and ads that come into our social media feeds are highly relevant and of interest to us and therefore it makes it harder to switch off. We also get hits of dopamine (even when there were pangs of pain) there were still moments that I enjoyed scrolling on my phone and this made it hard to stop. And finally, there was the novelty effect- I’d unlock my phone and not know exactly what I’d see in social media or in my email and so there was a sense of newness (a welcome relief from the grief I was enveloped in).
My phone was a constant reminder of what I had lost.
My phone was amplifying my grief.
So I turned it off. I knew the emails and SMS that I’d told myself were ‘urgent’, could wait (and the good news is, they did). Friends and family had my husband’s number and would call him if they wanted to touch base (or let us know that they were delivering meals, or helping with the kids).
What I learnt about my phone?
I discovered that we have to be a master of the media and not a slave to the screen. I discovered that my phone was a source of support, but it also was a source of suffering. I discovered that my phone isn’t ‘bad’- it’s just a tool and I need to be in control of how I’m using it.
These are powerful lessons I discovered and I think we need to teach our kids and teens. We need to teach them how to be in control of their technology habits and not the other way around where technology controls them!
We need to tame technology and not be a slave to the screen.