I love my computer and my phone. Rather I love what they give me, the convenience of being able to look something up on a dime and get reminders about my schedule and places I need to be. I love writing on my computer, I can just let it flow out without thinking about what I am writing, then go back, read my gibberish and correct my mistakes. To be totally honest I really like to get distracted with it as well. I find my Instagram feed strangely addictive, and I have to hand it to the developers of that little app for the skill they have at putting together the perfect combination of things that I am into. Colorful pictures of yummy food, inspiring quotes, my adorable niece and nephew, travel photos from beautiful places…its all there just for me.
The advances we have seen in technology over the past 10 years have brought us into more awareness of what happens all over the world in an instant. In my parents time, heck, in my youth even, you had to read about things that happened on the other side of the world in a newspaper, or tune into the evening news and see it there, after a delay. Now its instant, good or bad. There is no argument that this new awareness is good, however one of the sad side effects that I see everywhere, even in my own home, is the lack of human face to face interaction that can occur.
James and I went to LA last week to put our youngest son on a flight to visit my parents in Spain. As we were waiting at the airport I looked around at the diverse group of people who were coming and going, waiting and moving around the airport. Of those that were sitting, I estimated that at least 85% were on their devices. If you were to take a snapshot of that moment in time, it would appear that most people were flying solo. The exceptions were the mother and her toddler son, playing tug of war with the backpack, the young lovers embracing fervently as they said their goodbyes, the older couple who were dozing in their seats, and a few other random people. But for the most part, the look was the same. head and shoulders slightly hunched over, phone in their hands, gaze transfixed. You could justify this by the fact that people are bored and waiting, so looking for a distraction, but I see this behavior all the time. I saw it at the 5 star restaurant we dined at, groups of diners sitting around their table each on their own device, our kids in our home all sitting on the couch, tv is on, but no one is watching because they are all on their own personal iphone, samsung, google…
What if we put ourselves on a diet? Just like overeating, is there damage that is done by over-teching? What are we missing out on by being on our phones instead of being present with the person we are with? What if we started making connections with the person that is sitting next to us as we wait to see the doctor, or in line at the grocery store, or sitting next to us on that flight? Better yet, what if we took the time to really communicate with our kids, our partner, our parents? When is the last time someone looked at you directly and had a genuine interest in how you were doing, not just “Hi, how are you, fine, how are you” But “Hi! How ARE you? What’s your day been like?”
My challenge for myself, and for anyone who can see any value in what I am putting out here, is to become intentional about REALLY being here. Lose the distractions, put yourself on a tech diet. It’s ok to have an escape, not saying to eliminate it entirely. Just take a look at the amount of time you are spending in the zone of distraction, and work to push the ratio towards connecting with the amazing, diverse, interesting human beings that you come into contact in your daily life. Don’t ever underestimate the impact we have on each other, your kind words can be the difference in someone’s life between a rotten day and an amazing one.