“Be ruthless when it comes to things that inhibit presence in our face-to-face relationships.”
I know I’m making a generalization here and I’m not saying anything we haven’t heard before, but I think we’re all spending too much time on our phones.
Every one of us is guilty and we know it when we lay our head down on the pillow each night.
We orbit around our tiny computers and stay tethered to our screens at all hours of the day. We have legitimate reasons too.
During my son’s swimming lessons last summer I noticed at one point every single parent or adult on the pool deck, and there was about 10 of us, was staring down at their phone. Eyes glued. Laser focus. Oblivious to what was happening around them.
The moment was seared in my mind forever.
Granted, I understand a 30-minute swimming lesson isn’t terribly exciting, and it can feel like an eternity, especially when our child spends the bulk of that time clinging to the side of the pool waiting for their turn with the instructor.
Selling my couch on Facebook marketplace, buying a new pair of shoes, researching how to build a tree house for my kids, or read my new Kindle book are all viable and seemingly more beneficial alternatives to watching my flailing fishy in the pool.
There’s always something to pry our gaze off the present moment and the people in our midst.
Screens are magical. They are the easiest accessible escape routes from our reality. With a tap of our finger we are sent flying into another land, another life.
Every Tuesday though, I discover a glimmer of hope. I drive my daughter to dance class. It’s become one of my favorite times of the week.
Among the five or six of us moms, and our kids, crammed in that tiny room back by our pink clad ballerinas, not one of us takes out our phone for the entire hour.
I’m not saying we spend that time gazing deeply into one another’s eyes and listening intently. We don’t. Someone might be reading a magazine or nursing their baby, but we are awake to our surroundings, to each other, choosing to be uncomfortably close when we could scatter.
We all, for that hour at least, don’t even consider sliding down our effortless and over-used escape routes.
It’s been proven that even if a phone is on the table in a room and turned off, everyone is distracted, conversation stays on the surface, and people remain distant.
I look forward to this hour every week, for the shared laughter, the questioning faces, the precious eye contact, and, perhaps most important, the glimpse I get of a world where you and I are giving ourselves to loving and caring for whatever and whomever is in front of us.
It might just be magic.
You should try it for an hour.