I wish someone had told me about how technology can bring us together

“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week’s post is by Josie Dougall.

Technology, or more like cellphones, have a pretty bad rep. Simon and I have to remind each other every now and again when we are sliding into the abyss of mindless, and valueless scrolling. We’ve all been there, and it can be addictive. You look up 45 minutes later and think, oh my god, what a complete waste! But technology can also unite us.

Almost 30 years ago, both my mum’s sisters emigrated to North America with their families. I lived in London for four years and made some friendships that felt more like family, Christmases spent in the freezing cold together thousands of miles away from our families and gorgeous South African beaches can do that to a group of friends. One of my dearest friends lives in Australia. I have 16 colleagues, whom I love and respect enormously in Johannesburg and I work and live in Durban. My brother and sister, who I am incredibly close to, live in Johannesburg. All of these relationships I feel so much more connected too by our respective WhatsApp groups.

Nothing can replace a one on one coffee, a holiday together in the bush, or a long, lazy lunch, but when this invaluable time together is not possible, we cross miles and timezones, share school nativity plays, and political views, see matric dance or “prom” dresses via the mutual sharing on these groups.

I have a “mamas” group, with six of my closest friends in Salt Rock. Here we share teething remedies, discuss what to do with a 39-degree temperature in a toddler at 10pm or share hilarious photos of spectacular three-year-old temper tantrums that make us all laugh and remember that we are not alone on this mothering journey.

I would be lost without these groups. I would feel completely out of touch with my mum’s family on the other side of the planet and I would forget that Ash’s oldest boy in Oz is already seven years old!

So while I am completely conscious of minimising my screen time, I have a fear of meeting my maker one day with a huge feeling of remorse that I spent too much of my life missing my life by being buried in my phone. However, I also cherish the groups I have and the way technology connects me to my people around the world and to other mums on my doorstep who I can share the daily ups and downs with in a quick photo, or joke that lightens my day.

Technology is awesome when we use it respectfully.

Josie has a brilliant marketing brain, an infectious laugh and a heart of gold. Strong problem-solving skills, diplomacy and getting things done are among her many talents. She is also a brilliant mum to three gorgeous children.