Technology has exploded our personal worlds in many ways. We no longer have to wait until we get home to check the answering machine for missed calls. We no longer have to watch the news to check the weather for the next day. And, we no longer have to even wait for the dial tone connection to start our internet surfing, knowing we probably have time to make dinner between connection time and the time our web page loads! I remember these times – my children do not. It is beyond their comprehension to not “google” an answer to find out the fact you need to know.
I do appreciate all of that technology, as there are many things I could not do without it, including my work. I totally appreciate the ability to know instantly (most of the time) what my children are doing when they aren’t under the roof of our home. I enjoy the opportunity to connect with my husband more via text and short conversations without interrupting the meetings of his day. There is, however, one thing that I do not think I will get used to, nor do I think anyone should get used to as a “normal”. The idea that we must always be connected and immediately available, no matter where we are. Case in point – the showers in the locker room.
I enjoy working out at the local Y. I have gotten used to people talking on cell phones while running on the treadmill (even though it says not to). I tune out conversations people are having with their Bluetooth in their ear while lifting weights. But, a first occurred the other week. A phone rang in the locker room, and the person answered it – from the shower. I stood behind my shower curtain, amazed that she answered the phone and then even more amazed that the conversation continued. It was not an emergency from the tone of the showering person. It was a simple “hey, what’s up” kind of call. Even more funny (or sad?), though, was that whoever she was talking to knew she was in the shower…and continued the conversation!
There are very few places that are “mobile conversation free” and slowly we have all become used to people talking, seemingly to us, when in reality they are talking with someone using their hands-free device. However, the bigger issue for me is this sense that we must always be available 100% of the time. When did it become a standard that we can’t even go to the bathroom or take a shower without feeling the need to answer our phone if it rings? And, is it a sense of being afraid to be 100% quiet and in the present, or is it a matter of creating an elevated sense of importance for ourselves that we must be available all of the time?
I know there are always exceptions for folks who need to be 100% available all off the time, so this isn’t directed to those folks. Rather, it is the person like me who enjoys friends and conversations, but tends to focus more on the little 2×5 inch computer in her hand while being surrounded by people. I have become skilled at walking through a parking lot and into a store without being able to tell you one thing about the clouds in the sky, the cars I walked by, or the people who passed me by because I was so absorbed with my little device. And some days, I ask myself – what was so worth it that I missed smiling at a stranger who may be having a dreadful day, admiring creation and the beauty that continually surrounds me, or just thinking random thoughts without being directed by the little device in my hand? I am pretty sure I cannot remember what I was doing, but I can certainly remember the times I have had 15 seconds of worship to my Creator for His creation, or seen a friend I had not seen in months at that perfect time when we both needed that conversation. It simply took me paying attention to the world in front of me and not the world inside the 2×5 inch box. My challenge to you – lift your eyes from the device…just a for a few minutes… and enjoy the world and the people around you.