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?
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