One evening, after leaving a client, I called my husband to let him know I was stopping at a grocery store. He didn’t answer. I called a second time; again, no answer. ❶
I’m notorious for not picking up my phone every time it rings. If I’m with another human—family member, friend, or client—I don’t stop what I’m doing to answer because the person I’m with deserves undivided attention.
I also don’t carry my phone everywhere I go, continually checking for messages. I respond ASAP, but I’m not tied to technology. (On the other hand, my husband always has his phone with him, so I was concerned when he didn’t pick up.)
We’re so connected that if someone doesn’t answer the phone, or text back right away, we’re worried or annoyed. With landlines, mobile phones, email, texting, instant messaging, and tweeting, we’ve come to expect immediate feedback.
I grew up in a generation where telephones not only weren’t cordless, they had “party lines.” I wrote term papers on a typewriter and fixed mistakes with white correction tape. Invitations were delivered by “mailmen,” milk was put in a silver box on the back porch ❷, and we ate dinner together every night, at home, sans electronics.
Technology is incredible; I order customer color samples, FaceTime with life-coach clients, and write stories, posts, and poetry, all from the comfort of my own space. There’s a wealth of information, literally, at our fingertips.
We connect with each other quickly and communicate with people almost anywhere. Global partnerships are viable, employees work remotely, and people with disabilities that preclude them from leaving their homes can be connected despite physical barriers. The list of benefits goes on and on.
What’s concerning is that we should have so much more time, but we’re often more harried and over-extended than ever! We over-communicate, but how often do we genuinely communicate in this instant gratification world, adept at a new shorthand? And, it can be challenging to create boundaries and separate our professional and personal lives because we’re expected to always be “plugged in.”
Pre-COVID-19, I saw families glued to their devices at restaurants—immersed in worlds brought to them on tiny screens—devoid of human conversations. We text at concerts, plays, soccer games, and faith services. Our world has been expanded and minimized simultaneously because we’re often engaged with our electronics, not our people.
We’re so busy worrying about what we might be missing that we forget to pay attention to the human or experience right in front of us; we’re losing the art (and joy) of interacting on a person-to-person level.
What if we put the devices away for just one day, look at each other, and have conversations?
I woke up a little after 5 this morning, made my tea, and wrote this post. As I’m signing off, the sun has come up; a new day’s been ushered into reality. What will we do with these precious hours? Where will our attention be lead? Our lives have been revolutionized by technology. How we handle that transformation is up to us.