Recently I purchased a new phone. Well, I really didn’t buy it. With the upgrade I had coming, the discounts at the store and a special sale I got it free for a renewed contract. Weird huh? Then, since I switched my brand of phone, I spent the better part of a week uploading apps and syncing my new phone to all the devices in my house, car and office. After that I continued focusing on the phone tweaking the ringtones (James Bond), culling the contacts and finding more apps. And when I finally looked up from the phone I realized I lost more than a week of connecting with friends and family. Sad to say that I’m not the only one caught up in the digital world. That has to stop. The challenge is we live in a world that loves their phones and computers and that hurts all of us.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Luddite by any stretch of the imagination. I have a Mac Book Pro, VAIO PC, Microsoft Surface and Nokia smart phone. I run my business digitally from any where at any time. And now I’m realizing the problem that can be. My research and life work is about bringing out the best in people. But when I am so focused on my phone or gadgets I forget the people around me and think that the world resides in my hands or at my finger tips. It doesn’t. There is nothing like a real connection to another human being.
Sadly we are a society moving in the direction of disconnection. Though we have a greater ability to reach out and touch someone, we do it more and more electronically with short messages and emoticons. These don’t create real human connection. Studies indicate that the more time we spend on electronic devices, no matter our age, the more our ability to read non-verbal communication weakens. We gradually lose the capability to discern facial expressions and body language. That’s scary.
A few years ago in Italy the “slow food” movement was begun. It was an attempt to regain the art and magic of dining by actually preparing food and taking time to enjoy it with others. It was begun in direct opposition to the “fast food” mentality. So I propose that we start a “slow connection” movement. This movement would emphasize taking time to be with our children, talk to our spouses, have dinner conversations that lingered, listen to the stories of our wise seniors and to linger over the nuances in our loved one’s reply, or watch the wonder on our child’s face as they experience something for the first time.
We live in a generation that could be the first to be utterly disconnected from those around us even though we share the same space. There is a place for electronics and digital connectivity, but its importance pales in comparison with face to face time with other people. Take time for a “slow connection.” Call up the person you’ve been meaning to speak with and arrange a lunch, a walk or a date. And remember when you are with them… turn off your phone.