13 December 2009
Engaging in THIS moment...
I had a great conversation with a girlfriend today. During the course of our conversation, we started talking about how technology has impacted how we communicate with each other. Phone calls are no longer the norm and we have become addicted to social networks (my personal favorite: Facebook), text messaging, and emails. Without fear of dating myself, I spoke about answering machines (to my younger generation friends, the precursor to voice mail) and how when they first hit the scene, I HATED them! What is the point of a machine taking a message when I want to talk to my friend? But as they became more "the norm", I became frustrated with people who didn't have them..."I just wanted to leave a message, I didn't want to TALK to them." And here is a confession that is probably gonna get me in trouble: I use caller ID all the time to "screen" calls and decide..."do I REALLY have time (or the desire) to speak with the person calling?" Cause the reality is, sometimes it is NOT convenient...sometimes you cannot be the listening ear or shoulder to cry on...sometimes...you just have to screen the call.
And sometimes, you need to put the phone down and engage in what is going on in the moment. I cannot tell you how many times I have been out with a friend and had our time together interrupted by a buzzing BlackBerry or a ringing cell phone. I have one friend that I ONLY see twice a year - his birthday and mine - and yet, every time we are together, I have to compete with his BlackBerry! It is so very rude! (my opinion). There should be times (I think) when we can (and should) just "disconnect" and engage. When I am sitting across a table from you, I should be interested/engaged enough to interact with you. When my mother and I eat dinner together, for the most part, I try to make it a Facebook/BlackBerry free zone. Believe me - ain't nothing gonna pop off in the hour we eat together that cannot be handled whenever I get the message. When I go to church, the phone stays in the car. You'd think that would be a no-brainer, but I cannot tell you how many times I have ushered people out of the church sanctuary and/or lobby of the church as they talk on their cell phones. C'mon people! It ain't THAT important! In the movie theatre...in restaurants...disconnect...enjoy the moment where you are. I read a Facebook status of a friend who posted, "Having a great time hanging out with my girls" - really? How great a time can you be having if you are stepping outside of the moment to go on Facebook to post a status about it? I just don't get it.
And then there is the other side of it: when you are on a phone conversation with someone - devote your attention entirely to that person! I understand the convenience of call waiting, but in the olde days before call waiting...people used to get a busy signal if they called you and you were on the phone - and you NEVER KNEW they called you until they called you back or you got a message on the answering machine. Yeah, it wasn't always "convenient" to have to call someone back, but at least your conversations weren't interrupted over and over and over again. Today while talking to my girlfriend, the phone beeped a few times - she never knew it because I never jumped off the phone. I checked, saw who called and realized that I could call them back. As a result, she and I had a meaningful LOOONG conversation that I believe was a true blessing to both of us.
It is great to be connected. There is nothing wrong with that. I love being on Facebook and being a "voyeur" into the lives of my friends who live all around the country and world. To see what they are doing - how they are living and enjoying their lives - finding out what we have in common, and what makes us so very different. But when it is time for one-on-one, face-to-face, me and you experiences...disconnect, unplug, and engage in the moment. Otherwise, I think you are gonna miss out on some wonderful blessings that God has in store for you. Things that will sustain you on the days when you are feeling all alone and unloved and lonely. Shared xperiences that will nourish and nurture your spirit and soul when the world seems cold and lonely and bleak. Your life will be richer, more colorful, more textured...at least that has been my experience.
So put down the mouse. Pick up the phone. Become engaged.