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).