Unplugged Attention

I crave that, don’t you?  I long for conversations without devices.  Just a few minutes of uninterrupted connecting.  Of having someone’s eyes looking at my face for just a little while without sneaking a peek at their phone.  I’d like to walk into a room and see people interested in one another instead of hooked like an IV to their own digi-world.

There’s always a good reason for holding our devices so close.  We’re waiting for answers to queries or reports from our kids.  We’re checking in for flights or checking the stats on an order.  We’re posting pics to document the moment.

There are lots of efficient and cool things we can be doing, but do we really have to do them when we’re with real people?  Is whatever we’re checking or doing that essential?  More often than not, it’s not.  When there’s a five second lull in the conversation, that seems to be the cue to whip out something of more interest.  And sometimes there isn’t even a lull.  Sometimes the device comes out smack dab in the middle of a sentence.

This might label me old-fashioned, but I can’t help but think it’s just rude.  And yes, I’m guilty.  Maybe it bothers me now because I’m getting older and more aware of how quickly time is passing.  Which is more precious–face to face interaction with loved ones or face to device time?  Which will we look back on and wish we’d spent more time doing?

Unplugged attention is a form of respect.  It tells others we think they’re important and we want to make the most of our time with them.  It allows us to enjoy the full experience of communication and interaction.  It prevents us from missing out on body language cues or what’s going on around us.

I came across a sobering quote:  “You will never have this day with your children again” (Jan Hatmaker).  When it comes to time with our children or our spouses or our church family, we are squandering precious moments when we are only partially engaged.

Unplugged attention is intentional.  Let’s stop excusing ourselves and start paying attention.  I don’t think we’ll miss the devices, and I don’t think we’ll regret the investment in others.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

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16 thoughts on “Unplugged Attention

  1. Well I am old school, but I still think it is so rude!
    It is funny to watch what happens when you are in line someplace, or eating a meal out with their family, driving (a no no) & the list goes on…..They seem to be in my opinion “full of themselves”.
    Gail

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  2. I tell my adult children it is rude. It is like when they were children and they ‘whispered’ with someone while in the presence of others. That was a rude thing to do and constantly checking your cell or other device fits into that catergory. It says I am leaving you out. You are not important enough to have my undivided attention. As parents, children, Christians we can’t afford to lose precious unclaimable moments. They may just be the price of a soul unseen or unheard becaue we felt an electronic device more important at the time. In eternity instead of saying, “you never mentioned Him to me'” the words may come “Wasn’t I
    important enough to turn off your device.” How very sad that thought!

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  3. Agree. I also believe that those those who do Facebook Instagram, and oversee personal blogs, need to be very conscientious not to spend wasteful hours on their sites and as well as not to be self promoting. Sites such as these have been a catalyst for self-centeredness and narcissistic behaviors. A trend we are seeing in a generation raised with access to these kind of sites.

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  4. Thank you for expressing this so well. We can all easily fall into rude habits. Those we are with deserve our undivided attention.

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  5. I read this on my phone. Ha! I just want to point out that while I totally agree we need to be focusing on faces not devices, it’s the principle set in the heart, not so much the use of the object, that needs to be addressed. Friends and family have just as often gathered round a television set in the name of family time, taking away the face-to-face conversations and dividing our attentions. It isn’t called rude today, though it probably was considered rude early on. There are very few places one can go where a TV isn’t a background distraction now. I think every era has it’s distractions, from boom boxes to Athenian arenas for entertaining debate. Whether we consider something rude or not–I, too, think this device-distraction epidemic is rude–has no bearing on changing the behavior. It might shame the person, but it won’t explain why something is rude. Ideas of what is rude and what is acceptable will change, but God’s standards of acceptable behavior toward souls will not. I think if we focus on teaching and showing the principles of concern by having compassion for others’ needs and putting others before self, the devices will take a backseat naturally because we’ll be able to reason through that something is more important and needs our full attention.
    I hope this makes sense and my comments don’t come off rude. This is definitely a problem that concerns me, and I just wanted to share what I’ve been thinking. Thanks for your perspective.

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  6. Thank you Kathy. I 100% agree and when Caitlyn is excited about a poem she wrote at school oe something else, I close it down and listen because I do not want her to feel my Macbook or iPhone is more important than her. Those things are so convenient but also at times so distracting. I get sad when I am in Starbucks and see a couple both staring down at their phone and not in conversation with one another. Tracy and I will kid around at times at text or email funny things back and forth when under the same roof and I get a kick out of hearing her giggle in the room when I send something goofy. We need to be reminded of this often though. Love this blog post, thank you sister.

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