We live distracted lives. It’s true. We don’t want to, but we feel the lure of distractions on a consistent basis. These distractions manifest themselves in the form of work, people drama, entertainment, and usually come via the path of technology. None of these things in and of themselves are bad or wrong. However, we have allowed them to steal our focus on a consistent basis. We (I) have allowed them to throw life out of balance.
When did I really get hit with this uncomfortable truth?
It was the third practice for my son’s baseball team. The kids have varying degrees of experience with baseball, even at their young ages (6-7 years old). As I sat back fighting the urge to lose myself in our social media and game app worlds, I felt my son’s gaze. A gaze that pled for his daddy to pay attention and provide affirmation.
I struggled, but maintained focus on my son. His enjoyment of what he was participating in was amazing. The smile on his face was enough to snap me out of my desire to see what was trending or to play the same mini game on Plants v. Zombies. I no longer worried about what I was missing and I became a participant in his enjoyment. If only aesthetically, I was on the field with him.
Interestingly, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that every adult who was at this practice was staring at their phone, pad, or laptop. They had given into the urge that beckoned with the song of sweet temptation. “Just take a quick peek” it says. “It will only be a moment.” My reality, this would pull me in 99 times out of a 100, it was only the hope of that little boy that held me strong. Unfortunately, every other adult traveled down the rabbit hole that I knew oh so well. I want to emphasize, I am no better than any of them. I am quite guilty of this on a consistent basis.
The enjoyment I was receiving through watching my son and the sorrow I felt for them as they missed what their children were doing led me to spend time with the following questions, 1) What are we missing in front of us? 2) What are we afraid of missing on social media or in the game world?
I heard all of my criticisms echo in my head regarding the generations below mine and how they are addicted to technology and how things were better in our day. However, this example shows that we are just as sucked in as those generations under us. We are all missing it. We are all missing life. We are missing our kids. We are missing experiences. We are missing each other. I’m sure many of us have the clarity and the will to put these devices down, but many of us also have fallen prey to the tempter’s whisper of “just take a look. Just for a moment.” Only to realize an hour or more has gone by or an experience has ended while we wished for that time back.
Even in times where we are putting the device down and we combat the Pavlovian response to its tone or vibration, we deal with guilt. The guilt of letting others down. We all know how those calls start with “I sent you an email/text, but didn’t hear from you.”or the 17 straight texts that end with “hello?” or “u there?”. This fuels the guilt feeling that so many of us fight. We believe that we are letting others down by engaging our present and ignoring their moment. In the vast majority of cases, we realize that there was no emergency, but it doesn’t help assuage our guilt. However we must focus on the bigger issues at play!
What am I saying with my actions to the people that matter in my life through my actions? Am I saying to them that it’s OK to check out and engross our lives in the virtual realm while life happens around us. Am I showing them that our technology streams are more important than the person in front of us? Am I showing them that it is OK to put people on hold while others who are not present jump in front of them via my phone? What message does that send to anyone who get to share time with? Bleak thoughts, but being aware of the problem is the first step in solving it.
As I think on these issues I realize, it doesn’t have to be this way. I may have gotten sucked into this tech distracted lifestyle, but I know what it is like to live without it. I know what life is like when people can’t call or text and tether you to the virtual world at a moment’s notice.
I found purpose in my thoughts at that field and a minor mission. I want to TEACH my children how they should rule their technology and not allow technology to rule them. This is the critical piece of every tool and experience that is at our disposal. We must rule our technology and refuse its rule over us. I want to show everyone who I get to spend time with that they are important to me and worth my time. I want, NO – WILL, bring balance back to my life on this. I must be awake in every capacity to fulfill my purpose to inspire and touch the lives around me.
We are the last generation of the fully non-connected experience and we know the beauty of living a life away from the screen. WE MAY NOT HAVE THE ANSWERS, BUT WE HAVE THE EXPERIENCE. We have generations below us who need us to lead the way.
As we spend the summer months enjoying family time, vacations, or just finding those moments of beauty in life, I am doing my best to put the phone down and away. When there is a picture that needs taken, I will take it, but I’ll post it later. When I get a text message, phone call, email, or whatever, I remind myself that it will be there later, but the moment that I am in will only be here once.
Using the tools of our current time is important, but we must determine their usage – the when, the where, and the how. For life is made up of many critical and impactful moments. It will be these singular moments that help us AWAKEN and fill our lives with strength, love, struggle, and hope. It will be these moments that we can call upon to fuel our RISE and we won’t want to miss them for the world.