Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pressing Pause


“Before printing was discovered, a century was equal to a thousand years.” -Thoreau

I wonder what Thoreau would have said about the invention of the internet.

Recently, the staff at Womencare invited child and adolescent therapists to come share in a conversation that struggled to assess and consider the impact of technology on our kids, our relationships, and our lives. In the brief 1 ½ hour discussion, we touched on many things.

We discussed communities- the creation of new, and the strain on old.

We pondered social rules- what it means to be a friend, and what it means to be a friend on Facebook, and when and how to bridge those relationships.

We thought about information- how to wade through the seemingly endless stream of data and finding ways to sift the good from the bad.

We wondered about neurological changes- if the very fabric of our brains is changing because of the new ways we receive and process data.

We considered safety- how to protect our children and ourselves in a world with even more ambiguous boundaries.

Eventually, an important question emerged- when and where do we stop to consider all of these pieces in order to act, as opposed to react? As therapists, we try to provide a space in our client’s lives for them to begin to consider their own choices with wisdom and grace. As people, we do this while trying to forge our own path through this changing scenery. Some try to abstain almost entirely, while others immerse themselves in the new world, rushing to keep up with the latest development. Either option limits our opportunity to best serve our clients, who look to us for guidance and balance. So how do we play that role in a world where people frantically feel that speed is of the essence, and feel frantic about keeping up?

Ultimately, the answer may be to do exactly what we did. We took a moment to press pause on the information overload and come together to share our knowledge, in order to best help our clients. It seems we all came away from that conversation with something new- a new thought, new guideline, or new piece of information. We wish to offer a sincere thank you to everyone who came, and an invitation to them and others to continue to take those moments when we can find them. Together, we can hold that space to think and make choices in a more powerful way than we can traveling alone. (And no one’s phone went off during that whole hour and a half… at least not audibly!)

Ellen Lonnquist 


  1. I think it's an important conversation to have. I feel thankful that I grew up in a time before computers and cellphones. It helps me catch myself when I'm doing something absurd, like checking Facebook while I'm walking to my car. Really! I'll ask myself, "Since when do you NEED to know what is happening on Facebook while walking?" I remind myself of mindfulness. I put the phone away and listen to the world around me with all of its noise and beauty. I also find myself moving out of the way of the people walking towards me who are busy looking at their phones!

  2. Casey, I so appreciate your feedback. I agree with your experience, and feel like in many ways our task is to teach our younger clients to learn to ask themselves those questions. My hope is that they learn to have the choice to spend some time in the beauty of the world in the way that you choose to do!

  3. Great Conversation, Ellen. "Pausing" can become a practice... Thank you!

  4. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss this topic. A stimulating conversation that left me with new questions for myself and the youth that I work with. I now encourage myself to "unplug" when I can! Understanding that technology is here to stay and continuing to converse about how to use it to enhance connections with the living, breathing, body/mind/soul was a helpful reminder. Thanks, Womencare!