It’s no secret our schedules are busy. SO BUSY. We live in a culture that prizes productivity and performance, and tend to wear our busyness like a badge of honor – as though she who has the most activities wins. Or perhaps he who works latest is the most important?
There are many, many things vying for our attention and time – and across any age category it seems the lure of technology is unavoidable. Young children are pros at using their parents’ phones, teens are glued to their gaming devices, and adults? Definitely no better. Phones, tablets, tv’s and other screens dominate so much of our waking hours.
This short video shows what happens when devices are powered down…and I think there are some lessons to be learned from this funny (and powerful!) experiment.
1. To start, I think it’s safe to say we’re pretty glued to technology. When we are left alone or without something to keep us engaged and busy, many of us instinctively reach for a device. When I ride the bus I often notice the vast majority of folks are engaged with their phones rather than looking around, chatting with a seatmate, or simply sitting with their own thoughts. I wonder what would happen if we started pausing before we reached instinctively for our phone/tablet/remote control, and made room to consider why are we reaching? Are we filling empty space? Are we too uncomfortable to be with ourselves for a few moments? Could you handle 5 minutes without checking your phone…or even two?
2. The loss of technology and the connection to a device can result in a bit of a panic! We see in the video clip the angst and anxiety that powering off creates. If losing access to a device creates that much tension and tantruming, perhaps it’s a good sign that we are using technology in an unhealthy way. What is helpful to note, though, is that the initial explosion of emotion doesn’t last forever. The panic or anxiety created is temporary. We can get past it.
3. Powering down makes room for real connection. Suppertime conversations, smiles, laughter, and a sense of seeing and knowing each other happens when we can engage with each other instead of our device.
If you find yourself or your family mirrored in this video, perhaps it’s time to implement a “power down hour” where you can leave devices tucked away, turned off, and out of reach. Make room for eye contact. Look at the person talking to you with your full attention. Ask questions. Tell jokes. Let’s work at interrupting the pattern of connecting more with our phones instead of our people, and find ways to plug in with each other and reconnect.