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Looking and Learning
Mommy Musings 1-3-24

Let’s talk about the internet, shall we?

As we each dive into a new year, embrace a fresh start and look at how we might “be better” this topic can’t help but cross my mind.

First off, I recognize not all of us embrace the new year/fresh start theory and that’s okay. Personally I use my birthday as my point of reference for looking at my life, my goals and how I can “be better.” Coincidentally it comes just a few days prior to New Year’s so perhaps that’s how this started.

Now the mother of two young adults, this year I opted to openly share with my duo some of the things which I’d like to work on in the coming year.

Truth be told and a bit of transparency, as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that the thing I challenge myself with the most are acts of others which get under my skin. Simply put in relation to this topic, over the past year I’ve noticed several close to me, as well as my children spend a lot of time looking at their devices.

I spent a good portion of 2023 away from those I love due to treatments or recoveries so my time with them face to face, in real life person was a treat.

I’ll be the first to share it’s truly crushing to be in the middle of a conversation and notice their eyes are fixated on a device versus the person they haven’t seen in quite a while.

Oh sure, I’m sure some will offer the multitude of justifications: work, appointment setting, children, parents, future plans and the like - I get it. Yet when did these devices become such appendages that we’ve forgotten to ignore common courtesy?

And please don’t get me started on the friends who feel the need to check social media during a meal or coffee date. Have we really become that wrapped up in what’s happening in the worlds of other people?

This launches my aha moment to a two-fold topic, one of which I’m absolutely not proud of but this is transparency here and I must come clean.

Recently over dinner with a girlfriend I caught myself “discussing” another person and events of their life which I had followed on social media; in short, gossiping. As we spoke she gestured that a family member wasn’t too far off from earshot of our conversation and so we switched topic.

I’m ashamed of that above paragraph for a number of reasons. First who am I to judge someone on how they are walking their path, which I only know via social media? This person is an acquaintance. I only know them because I know other people in their family and as social media goes, somehow we all manage to become connected. Now here I was gossiping about events they had shared with another disconnected person. I mean, what …?

The second point of course is the self-reflection. What is so broken in my life that rather than talking about something we both know firsthand or sharing something positive, I was reduced to this as conversation. Big moment. Girl (me) needs to get a grip.

The second topic which became very apparent most recently when on the road with my daughter to Sacramento was the amount of people on devices while driving. Oh yes, I know it’s against the law, just like speeding, tailgating and dark tinted windows - yet here we are.

The crazy thing was as we traveled there and back we came to recognize the similarity making them so easy to detect. Their speed was below the speed limit; like a steady 50 mph and they tended to drift to the lane line or into the next lane.

So now that I’ve called myself out for being the gossip, this one is for the below speed limit, drifters drawn to your phone while highway driving. You aren’t that important. Sorry not sorry if that seems a bit harsh, but quite honestly whatever it is that you are looking at on your phone while driving is absolutely not more important than my child’s life or the life of the persons in the cars around me.

Do I use my phone while driving? Yes. Absolutely. I’m a maps addict, as it helps me navigate without having to worry if I’ve missed my turn. I also use my road time to make phone calls, set up interviews and catch up on things which are easy to do thanks to voice recognition. Reading articles or e-mails during that time - no way. My vision is already requiring glasses while driving, I don’t need to add to that by looking down for a solid length of time. Want to know why? It’s simple, I’m not that important.

So, as we begin to head into a year which has much promise, not to mention an extra day, I challenge each of us to look up more. Friends and readers please believe me when I say, life is much more beautiful in real life technicolor than it is on that device and your life is just as interesting as the one which is being shared moment by moment on social media.

Look in the faces of those you love. Laugh over lunch, coffee or a walk around your neighborhood. Let your device be an accessory in your life not an appendage of your being.

That’s where I’m headed in 2024, I sure hope some of you join me. Cheers to a technicolor life and the accessory to capture it. Happy New Year.


Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 209-847-3021.