My neighbor Dave shared an interesting observation with me the other day. He went to the ever yummy Buffalo Wild Wings to pick up some 25-cent boneless wings for the fam (yay for Thursdays!) As he sat down at the bar to wait for his order, he noticed five guys in a row sitting on bar stools, each one glued to his smart phone.
He shared, “No one was talking to one another. It was kind of sad. Those guys missed out. These devices prevent us from ‘real connections’ with people. What a shame. I’m sick of all of the surface level conversations and interactions. I feel like I rarely go deeper these days because of my smart phone.”
Dave is spot on. Ironically, in our conversation we were, in fact, going deeper. It was as refreshing as it is rare these days.
In an effort of full disclosure, I need to mention I am in the category of people who thinks that the iPhone is one of the greatest inventions of my lifetime. Going on a true tech sabbatical, which we do from time to time, is painful and usually leaves me shaking in a corner somewhere. Okay, I’m not THAT bad but on a typical day, here’s a snapshot of my brain when I have my iPhone in my hand…
…Oh, a voice mail. I should check that real quick. Cool, an email back from Sherry. I’ve been waiting to hear from her. I should get back to her about that issue before tomorrow’s gig. Sarah was having that big appointment this morning, I should check FB to see how it went and tell her I was thinking about her. I should post a status about that funny thing that happened earlier. I should send a picture of Lucy to my parents — they love getting her mug in their inbox. And on and on and on….
Did you notice all of the “shoulds?”
Yikes. I even surprised myself with how almost every thought associated with my iPhone is something I “should” do, not something that is 100% necessary at that exact moment. The “shoulds” are distractions. As one of my contacts for an upcoming speaking program shared the other day, “Sh** on the Shoulds.”
These shoulds aren’t inherently bad. No, in fact most of the time my iPhone is helping me work more efficiently and connecting me with friends, family, readers, and clients — all good things.
But am I missing out on “real connections,” as Dave called them?
Gosh darn it, I hate to admit it, but…YES.
So should I throw my iPhone in the trash?
HECK NO! (You wash your mouth out with soap!)
As much as my all-or-nothing personality is tempted, the answer is simple but challenging to implement…
You must focus your energy and conscious thoughts towards the act of being mindful of your surroundings. The opportunity to connect with others in the physical realm should ALWAYS trump connections in the virtual world.
So, put the phone down for a minute. Slow down. Stop thinking. Shut your pie hole. Open your eyes and truly look around you. Listen (and hear) others. Look them in the eyes. Be present. Ask questions. Go deeper. Open your heart. Be sincere. Own your presence in the moment.
And as one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Alexi Murdoch, sings, “Don’t forget to breathe.”
If you join me in this effort, you will be gifted with some real connections. Sounds refreshing, doesn’t it? I am blessed by that simple yet deep conversation with Dave. His shining example of connecting with me in order to pass along his lesson learned is a gift that I am challenged by and am embracing.
What connections are you missing out on from your tiny screen of distraction?
Find out this week by being more mindful.