I just finished reading a blog post, “How to Miss a Childhood,” by Hands Free Mama which cuts a little at our “new” connectedness. She addresses how mobile devices provide us so many wondrous distractions that we miss presence. We miss seeing our children grow as the moments of their lives are played out in our physical proximity and our distraction attraction. “All it takes is one child and one phone and this tragic recipe can be yours.” (Stafford, 2012)

Misplaced attention may not be immediately dangerous to life and health as distracted driving may be yet it is harmful. It can kill a relationship. There are few things so disrespectful, in my opinion, than to disregard someone who is in your presence. Pavlov’s bell rings in our pockets and we salivate. Hmm. I am guilty. I have been guilty even without the phone and owe my wife and kids many apologies.

I peer into the vehicle beside me. I see three people encapsulated together in isolation. Each occupant has a mobile device in their hand, a slight head tilt forward or to one side, a reflected glow on their face and one with wires in her ears. Similar observations can be made from adjacent tables in the restaurant, at the conference table and in the classroom. I have witnessed an upper level manager lose respect by repeatedly calling meetings and spending much time answering his phone. It is sad to hear someone in the next stall of the restroom, talking, and I can only suspect the behavior goes into the bedroom.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” (Leo F. Buscaglia quotes) What does the body language say to those who are with us when our eyes are on the mini screen? “Please excuse me, this is important and I need to get it,” sends an implied message. It says, “You are less important to me than this phone (call, text, application).”

Have you considered the implications of your mobile technology use? Is it possible to measure the impacts on your spirituality, marriage, family, friends and co-workers? Are there other long term affects than possible irradiation of our brains and debilitating injury from and automobile crash?

I watched a TED Talk last week by Sherry Turkle which was similar in context to the blog post from Hands Free Mama. Turkle says, “..that people are so used to being short changed out of real conversation…that they become…willing to dispense with people all together…someday…Siri will be like a best friend…That feeling that no one is listening to me makes us want to spend time with machines that seem to care about us.” (Turkle, 2012) Hopefully that rings a bell other than Pavlov’s, an alarm bell.

Why is having a techno relationship a bad thing? According to Turkle, “We use conversations with each other to learn how to have conversations with ourselves…a flight from conversation…can compromise our capacity for self-reflection…a skill for self-development.” She goes on to observe, “We expect more from technology and less from each other.” (Turkle, 2012) This seems like Sci-fi to me. I don’t really like Sci-fi all that much.

These recent discussions on technology and connectedness give me hope we are finding a new awareness to the “old world.” I would like to think we are. There is a chance can go back to a place where people matter more.

I have never owned a smart phone. Recently I have wanted to join the “connected” crowd. I am again, unsure about this path to distraction. Does distraction lead to destruction of relationships? Can we be distracted from our own thoughts and lose the capacity of self?

What does your technology use say about you? What is your trade-off, what are the real costs?


Works Cited

Leo F. Buscaglia quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2012, from ThinkExist.com: http://thinkexist.com/quotes/leo_f._buscaglia/

Stafford, R. M. (2012, May 7). How to Miss a Childhood. Retrieved May 8, 2012, from Hands Free Mama: http://www.handsfreemama.com/?p=3942

Turkle, S. (2012, April). Talks: Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone? Retrieved May 8, 2012, from TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together.html

About sturner2

I am curious, not fearful or unafraid. I have delivered babies into this world. I have held the dying until their departure. Life, what is if for? What is it about? Do I know or don't I? Knowledge is elusive and never complete. The more I know, the more I know I don't know. My boss once asked me if I knew what I was doing. "No sir," was my reply, "but that has never stopped me before." This is one of those valuable lessons my mom taught me. Just because you don't know doesn't mean you shouldn't. I am willing. I am not always able. I have heard that "If it is worth doing, it is worth doing until you get it right." Here am I, send me. What is there about me that is different than all the rest? Possibly not all that much. I am a soul longing to do more, share more and know more. Born into a body in 1960, my parents raised me and continue to show me. My wife loves me. My children teach me. My friends stand by me. I share in this journey with many others. I am grateful. I have experienced more than 30 years as a husband, more than 30 years as a dad, and more than 30 years in the fire service. I continue to grow, feel and learn; and too, I diminish, numb, and forget. In honor or disgrace, blame or praise, I am prepared.
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17 Responses to Distracted

  1. mom says:

    You have my attention!! It is not just devices that distract us from those around us or those that we love. Time immortal can show evidence that while sitting in a group during a discussion there will be someone “day dreaming”. Families in the past lived close to one another so interaction was “normal”. Today, it takes a device to connect and we are distracted with life.

  2. sturner2 says:

    “Today, it takes a device to connect and we are distracted with life.” An interesting perspective; the device becomes the excuse and the scapegoat.

    Thanks for stopping by mom.

  3. Genie says:

    I love sitting next to a person and talking with them; it seems to be a dying art.

  4. What is interesting is that people use the devices to become more connected; however, the connections are illusory. We can become who we wish to be, and not have people close enough to call us on our fakery. A video conference is not the same as a conversation. I fear there will be a generation that grows up not knowing that.

  5. ceciliag says:

    oops gotta run the phone is ringing, i will pop back!!! .salient points! c

  6. What I love about working as a spiritual companion are the deep silences and dialogues we share. it troubles me that this is an art and profession that people are now offering online and by phone; it seems to me the beauty and depth of spiritual direction/companionship is entirely about sharing sacred space, noticing the pauses, the gestures, inflections etc…thank you for this wonderful post!

  7. I myself have a simple phone and am not always connected to the internet only when I blog or connect to family. I have scene some people especially the young, so engrossed with their Ipad, Iphone, BBs and Facebook but forget and dont know how to relate to people outside of their world….So sad!

  8. sturner2 says:

    Thanks for you comments Jenny. Let us hope we learn use technology to bring us together.

  9. Pingback: Connecting « Genie Speaks

  10. Genie says:

    I finally wrote that blog post & put a link to you: http://geniespeaks.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/connecting/

  11. momometer says:

    I read about your blog through Genie’s link. 🙂 I have been distressed by friends who are costantly “connected” while out with me. I live an hour or so away from my friends and family though, so technology is a great way to keep in touch, smart phone, Skype…I am even taking my graduate courses online. We commiserated that this takes away from the face-to-face aspect of school, but many of us are parents and teachers and this is the only way we can do school because the plus is it is available 24-7 for us to do as we can. think it is a necessary evil nowadays, but people should still follow the rules of etiquette. I only take calls from hubby or kids to discren if there is an emergency, otherwise I politely tell them I will call them back.

  12. momometer says:

    Reblogged this on momometer and commented:
    Here is a great blog! It is the first one I read from http://sturner2.net, but I plan to follow this blog!

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