I think there’s a huge problem in our culture. The problem is disconnect.
We have so many sources to stay connected to the world around us. Yet, the more we use technology to stay connected with others, the more disconnected we become with the things happening right in front of us.
When I bought my first smart phone, I haughtily declared that I would never become one of those people. You know, the people constantly using their phones to text, browse Facebook, check e-mails, etc. That would never be me.
Oh, how wrong I was.
It didn’t happen overnight – I started out by choosing to keep my phone in my pocket instead of on my dresser. Then I’d occasionally pull it out to check the time. Before long, I started reading and answering texts right as they came in. Then e-mails. And thus, the downward spiral into phone obsession continued until I was practically glued to my smart phone.
I knew it was bad when my three year old was sitting on my lap during a serious conversation. She felt my phone vibrate in my pocket and interrupted herself to ask me when I was going to check my text message. She was confused when I explained that I wasn’t going to look at my phone right then.
The realization that my child accepted my continual interrupting phone checks as her reality grieved my heart.
I recently sat with the same three year old and watched her try to button a sweater. Typically, I would “take advantage” of those minutes to check something on my phone.
This time however I chose to stay present in the moment with my child. Every few seconds, she’d glance up and grin as she saw me watching her. I witnessed her concentration, her determination, and finally, her joy as she succeeded with each button. Oh, how precious it is to witness my children develop new abilities!
As I watched her, I wondered how many moments like this I’ve missed. How many times have my children looked my way to see if I was watching them, only to discover that I was absorbed in my own little world on my phone?
How many times has a friend (or a potential new friend) wanted to approach me in public but didn’t because I looked unavailable to them as I read on my kindle app or checked Facebook?
How many times have I unknowingly shut out or rejected others because I was so focused on the world inside the four-inch rectangle I was holding in my hand?
My heart feels heavy and burdened by the realization that I have become one of those people – the constant phone checkers.
But I don’t have to stay that way.
I can turn my phone off, or at least leave it on silent, and start keeping it on my dresser again. I can stay logged off of Facebook and only check it during designated times. I can give my family members permission to remind me if I’m choosing to connect with the world inside my phone instead of connecting with them.
I can make a plan and I can forgive myself for wasting time as I work to move forward.
Maybe you don’t spend a lot of time on your phone, but maybe you spend hours each day watching television, reading, or doing something else that takes your focus away from the most important things. If you do, I want to encourage you to join me in setting aside the things that cause us to disconnect and instead start saying yes to the best more often.
I will choose, starting today, to fully stay present in the moments happening around me. More than that, I will choose to be a part of those moments.
I hope you’ll choose that too.