It's probably been eight or 10 years since I really realized the world of communication had made a sea change.
I was in the car, driving with my sister and my two nieces.
After a while my sister and I noticed no sound coming from the back seat, where the teens were sitting.
When asked what they were doing, they replied "Texting."
"Texting whom?" I asked.
They were sitting side by side and, instead of opening their mouths, they were letting their fingers do the talking.
Instant messages, and instant information, has become the norm. Flea-sized attention spans and the need to be in contact - all the time - has altered our world.
I've seen its disruption in my life, and I notice it in others.
I "talk" to my mother and my sisters every night, via each of our iPads' instant messaging feature. While it's nice to keep in touch, I'm not convinced my mother needs to know what's for dinner or what my plans for the day are. Before the digital revolution, we maintained a loving, close relationship with a phone call or two per week.
I fight the urge to text my college-age son on a daily basis. I recall the single phone in the hallway of my dorm in college, shared by 15 girls. I called my parents only in a crisis situation, usually a dwindling bank account. Problem solving, creating your own identity and growing up all happen when you're out of the nest and the momma bird isn't clucking about nearby.
Walk through the crowd at any public event and notice the heads tilted down, fingers moving quickly. Folks are texting, not looking.
Out to dinner? Chances are you can look around and see couples, each on their own phones, talking to someone else.
My nephew, a young adult, shared a photo of a stack of smart phones on a table. The idea behind it was that when a group gathered for a dinner out, they would place all their phones in a pile. If someone reached in for their phone before dinner was through, they would pick up the check for the group.
My phone is not my problem. I have a "dumb" phone, and I'm happy to leave it in my purse, in my car, out of the way.
Nope, it's my iPad that's the problem.
For me, my time with a book, after dinner, has been replaced by surfing the web. I play a game or two of Words with Friends. I scroll through the headlines. I check on Facebook statuses.
I've come to realize I spend too much time with technology. And my vow for 2013 is to gain a healthier balance of plugged in and unplugged.
I'm not alone.
For the past three years, citizens have come together in late March for a National Day of Unplugging. It's a 24-hour period devoid of cell phones, laptops and all other technology. It's a time to reconnect with family, friends and yourself.
I've also heard of those who pledge to hold to a technology-free Sabbath, with Sunday set as a time away from the strings of the plugged-in world.
I'm not a Luddite. I appreciate so much the way our digital advances have helped to bring people, and ideas, together. I just know that giving too much of our time to a gadget deprives us from things that are good for our soul - relationships, reflection.