As I walked out of my office into the waiting room to get my next client, I noticed it was full of clients. A few years back I would have seen parents interacting with their kids, talking or playing quietly in their own little space, touching, hugging, arguing, or at least some minimal eye contact. I was amazed to see what looked like rows of robots, sitting side by side, totally disconnected from each other, head bowed over their cell phones, tablets or, rarer now, their lap top. No eye contact, no physical connection, not even a whisper shared between two people discretely involved in a discussion, any discussion. They, whoever they are, say that the new technology brings people closer together. To some degree it is true. We get instant access to Facebook, tweets, emails, texts, or calls… calls??… I now wonder who calls anymore. The kids I see don’t even call each other, they text.
Social Media has allowed connections but also anonymity, which in turns allows people to bully, pretend they are someone they are not, and even post lies or half truths. But I digress… I witness people who are unable to connect except from their iPods, phones or tablets. They speak in code, and forget the art of writing… soon grammar will be outdated as well. And letters? Who writes letters!
I see kids in my office crying they wished their parents would pay attention and get off their phones. It has been rampant. Not only children and teens have become addicted to these wonderful tools,so have their parents. These electronic wonders have also become a curse and a source of many headaches and arguments…. and I believe that people feel even more disconnected than they have ever been, at some level.
The scene in my office waiting room was actually a sad scene… a picture, even one can say a caricature, of total disconnect. It is no surprise that they would end up in our office. All I want to comment when I see them is “Where has the love gone?”. Children, people, are in desperate need for validation, for touch, for love, for connection and no amount of smart technology can do that. I see it with couples, children, and adults. In the end, they all want the same thing: to be seen and to be loved. These are common needs, basic needs, why are they now not first on people”s priority list.
Sometimes, the simple things in life are still the best things in life. There is a time and a place for the new technology, and people need to remember that. Pay attention to your kids, to your wives, your husbands, your friends. Stop for a moment, breathe, put down your phone or your tablet, how long can you survive without it? It is time to reconnect people, and schedule your tech time, don’t let it run your life.
Here are my tips for the day:
1) Check your emails or texts at designated times (e.g., three times a day: morning, lunch, after supper). People can wait. Teach them to wait. Unlike Pavlov’s dog. you don’t need to jump at the command of a beep or a ding warning you that you’ve just received a text or email. Obviously this excludes if it is part of your work or part of an emergency plan with your children or parents.
2) Don’t allow technology to interfere at the dinner table. Have people check out their devices at the entrance.
3) Designate and limit “screen time”. You’ll survive. There are so many other things you can do with your friends, kids, or spouse.
4) As much as possible, don’t allow kids under 12 to have a phone or tablet. Teach them social skills, teach them to play, teach them to use their imaginations to snap out of their boredom. Boredom is the gateway to imagination… allow it to happen. You will be amazed at the beauty that hides inside your child’s mind. Screens don’t allow kids or anyone to develop imagination. Its consumers passively wait to be entertained and stimulated. No wonder we have developed a society of bored, ADD, hyperactive kids. They are constantly stimulated. There lies many gifts in boredom, calm, and silence. Wait and watch…
5) Instead of pulling out your phones or tablets while waiting, why don’t you use the opportunity to have a wonderful conversation with the person you are with, tell a joke, share ideas, recall great memories, etc. There are so many things you can share about.
5) Take the time to stop, look at people in the eye, touch them, smile at them, acknowledge them, validate them, listen to what they say or don’t say, notice their body language, simply pay attention, see them, love them! People have become invisible. Children and adults alike complain “why don’t they see ME”.
6) If you really can’t stay away from your phone or tablet, and you are with your child, friend or spouse… well make it an interactive activity! At least you are connecting.
So remember, that sometimes the “normal” thing to do is not necessarily the “healthy” thing to do. Put down that phone, and connect with that human being standing right next to you! LOL !!!