Apr 11, 2016: Undivided Attention 

It’s so rare for us to focus on any one thing at a given time these days … sometimes it’s a little sad.

Sad, I suppose, because although it started off merely as multi-tasking that at least has good intentions, let’s be honest that with the advent of social media in particular, more often than not we’re not even dividing our time between a handful of worthwhile, productive causes as much as just various time wasters and things to distract us from something – anything we could be doing that would be more productive!

And mind you, I don’t mean to downplay the contribution that social networks like Facebook and Twitter have brought to the Internet, but in a way it is kind of unsettling to think that here in 2016, we literally carry these Star Trek-esque devices around in our pockets that put a seemingly endless array of information at our fingertips at any given time … and yet while sure, we often use it for helping to circumnavigate the globe or learning random tidbits of knowledge at will, we also use it for gawking at pictures of each other’s lunches and spreading around factually inept memes about our various political contenders… 🙁

One of the unofficial New Years resolutions that I made this year is to try and spend a little less time staring down at my phone during times when I really should be more present in the world around me. It’s hard because over the last years we’ve conditioned ourselves to having our phones as an extension of ourselves at all times, but I think there’s got to be a healthy blend of connected time and disconnected time – if anything, to help us better appreciate those moments that we share with each other online.

I found myself forced to acknowledge this today when I took Christopher to his swim class. He’s old enough that as parents we don’t participate any more – just watch through the glass – so it’s really easy to catch yourself with one eye on your phone and the other eye on the kid, especially when he’s not actively swimming because the instructor is working with one of his classmates. In fact, there was a guy sitting next to me with his wife and as soon as she looked the other way, out came his phone.

But I told myself…

  • It’s only a half-hour class. You can spend thirty minutes today just focused on your son’s achievements and how much fun he has during swim class.
  • And more importantly, I don’t want him to look back for my approval or support during his class and see me focused on my phone instead of on him.

And the thing is, it’s not like I had some big article I could’ve been working on there in the lobby, anyways – it just would’ve been time dinking around on Facebook and Twitter, which is fun in its own way, but twenty years from now, I’m not going to look back with great fondness of that time I was surfing on Twitter or that snarky meme I saw on Facebook. Yet I might remember being amazed at how well my son took to swimming and how he’s gone from hating floating to making surprising progress all while we’ve simply watched through the glass.

The Internet is amazing and has transformed our lives in a seemingly infinite number of ways, but it’s here to enhance the world around us, not replace it.

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