Let’s all think of a situation where you were socializing with a group of people, be it coworkers, friends, family, or a mix of the bunch – and everyone in the group is on their cell phone. All at the same time!
Can you think of one such situation?
Was it yesterday? Even today? Perhaps everyday this week?
I’m not here to point fingers. I’ve been guilty of participating in this travesty before.
It’s become apparent to me that my lack of presence with an individual or a group has negatively impacted these relationships. Over something as simply not putting my phone back in my pocket, or even better – out of sight.
All because I’ve made a notification beep or buzz more urgent than the connection with another human being two feet away from me.
How callous had I become? That I had to respond to somebody somewhere else rather than engage in conversation and connection with one or more people whom I consciously decided to spend my time with. Or really in this case, not spend it with.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule – waiting for an important business call or an impending family emergency like a pregnancy. They are truly very few and far between though. Don’t try to rationalize it this way or that.
Responding to every damn notification from your phone renders your weak. You are a slave. The real power is in the unplug.
In the past, I’ve made it a personal rule to excuse myself (walk away) during a situation where everyone I’m with is on their phones. While at the same time, making a mental note of who in my life is always so responsive when we’re hanging out/communicating and then deciding if this person truly has any deserved space in my vicinity anymore.
Sound cruel? I don’t think so.
We should all have standards about who we let in to our space and awareness. My ideal goal is to have every interaction I’m in having the other person walking away with more energy or new ideas. That’s simply not possible if I’m not engaged and effectively communicating with them by looking them in their eyes, listening without intent of speaking, and showing that I care.
Because if my nose is buried in a text message or scrolling a feed, then I’m doing the opposite. I’m showing that I don’t care and that I value something trivial over the beauty and mystery of another human being, alive in the flesh.
I’ve never had a term for this dilemma or these situations until a few days ago.
One such situation arose, and my friend Caiti simply said, “Choose life.”
It struck me so deep and profoundly, that it almost had a Biblical impact on me. It stung so good.
Now I know how to diffuse future situation with two words.
Like I said earlier, if whoever I’m hanging with wants to keep endlessly refreshing their feeds or responding immediately to every damn text that comes their way, that’s up to them. The more they do that, the less they’ll see of me.
That’s fine. People come and go. The ones that truly matter won’t waste your time by having their cell phone next to the silverware at dinner.
A quote from Hugh Prather resonates with me,
One thing has become quite clear: All acquaintances are passing. Therefore I want to make the most of every contact. I want to quickly get close to the people I meet because my experience has shown we won’t be together long.
I couldn’t agree more, Hugh.
When you’re with others, put your screens away. Away-away.
Don’t tell them that you care, show them.
You can enhance your connection with someone by 1000% with this one simple trick.
The biggest gift you can give is the gift of your presence. Listen. Learn. Love.
The choice is yours.
The power is yours.