Recently I went to dinner with my husband and some friends of ours. We were chatting away, waiting for the chips and salsa and I couldn’t help but notice the couple at the table beside us. They hadn’t spoken a word to each other and were glued to their phones. The booth across from us was filled with people and you know what? Four out of six were on their phones. The more I looked around the more I noticed – nearly the whole room was looking at their screen instead of their friends at the table.
Has it really come to this?
Are we as a culture this obsessed with our smartphones and social media accounts that we are no longer able to enjoy each other’s company?
The New York Times published an article on the very subject, stating
“most people now check their smartphones 150 times per day, or every six minutes.”
I’m sorry….what? That’s a big chunk of time out of each day just checking, not to mention the amount of time spent trolling Facebook or going down a rabbit hole on Instagram. I catch myself checking Insagram for a mental break from work or while I’m in line somewhere but then ten minutes later I’m somehow looking at a friend of a friend’s summer vacation pictures. Please tell me I’m not alone in this.
I love technology. I do! I am by no means bashing social media because I use it and usually enjoy the whole bit – sharing pictures of our family, seeing pictures of cute kids and seeing what friends and extended family are up to. There are a million apps out there that make our lives easier and more streamlined. If email and Zoom meetings weren’t things I would be out of a job. I get it – technology is pretty great….but as helpful and entertaining as it all is, nothing compares to actual face-to-face time with people. The NYT article continued with:
“As with so much else in life, moderation in our digital world should be the hallmark of a healthy relationship with technology. Too many of us have become slaves to the devices that were supposed to free us, giving us more time to experience life and the people we love. Instead, we’re constantly bombarded by bells, buzzes and chimes that alert us to messages we feel compelled to view and respond to immediately.”
I am going to make a bold statement here, so hold on tight: I no longer want to be a slave to my iPhone or my email. I don’t want to spend so much time staring at a screen that I miss being present for my life and all the beauty in it. I propose that we disconnect to connect. Tune out to tune in. Unplug to unwind. Let’s commit to spending more quality time with our people – complete with eye contact and listening ears. Maybe you make the dinner table a phone-free zone. Maybe you keep your phone on silent after work hours. Maybe you try to not check social media over the weekend or really go crazy and delete the app for a while. Let’s become conscious of what, and who, is most important and what really nourishes the soul.
We won’t always get this right and it might not happen all at once, but baby steps could be all it takes to set a big change in motion.