These days wherever you go people are busy talking, texting, emailing or surfing on their iPhone or android phone. In restaurants, couples sit together barely saying a word. Instead they spend the entire meal texting or emailing other people. Cashiers have personal conversations on their Bluetooth earpiece while checking out customers. Drivers sit at intersections long after the light turns green consumed with their phones. Or worse, they text while driving.
Last weekend we took a group of teenage girls to the bowling alley. In between taking turns bowling, each girl stopped to check her Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram account to see what her friends who were not there had posted. Instead of being fully immersed in the moment, having fun with friends, these girls seems more concerned that they were missing out on something. What they thought would happen in the few minutes that had passed since they last checked their phones, I am not sure.
I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of obsessively checking emails on my phone. While being accessible is both expected by clients and necessary in today’s competitive business environment, it is easy to move from a healthy state of connectivity to obsession. I struggle to find a healthy balance.
Recently, I was thinking about communication. Is it becoming a lost art? Has meaningful face-to-face conversation been replaced with a combination of mass communication and 160 character text messages? I do not think that there is anything inherently wrong with mass communication or text messages. This is after all a blog – which hardly constitutes meaningful personal communication. But I do wonder what long-term effects this world of mass communication and texting will have on our children.
Children learn by the example we set. If we spend much of our time consumed with email, texting, posting, etc. and our children do not see us spending time talking to each other – without interruption – will they fail to learn how to communicate? Will the art of communication be lost on the next generation?
We must put down our phones. We must talk to each other without interruption or distraction. We must teach our children to value and embrace the art of communication.