Just finished reading an article in AARP about the 'lost art' of conversation. I stand guilty as charged. I find myself ignoring those around me to 'talk' to people I've never even met in person, just online.
And it's around us everywhere. Next time you are in a restaurant waiting for your table, take a look around. How many other diners are waiting? How are they engaged? Are they talking to each other, reading the menu and getting excited about what to order, or are they each in their own little 'electronic world'?
Who is more important to you than the person you chose to spend your life with? Who is more important to you than your children? Who is more important to you than the people who will physically stand by you when you need them?
For everyone who says, 'I have to take this call, it's important,' take a moment to realize what you just said to the person sitting across from you. 'You are not as important to me as this phone call is.'
Really? Is that what you really want to say to your spouse, to your mother or father, to your child (think "Cat's in the Cradle" if you want)?
For everyone who sputters at this point saying, 'But this call IS important!' ask yourself 'why?' Why is this call more important than talking with your loved ones? Will someone die if you don't take the call? Will the free world cease to exist as we know it?
I'm definitely dating myself here, but I'm from an era without cellphones. I went to school (uphill, both ways, in the driving snow) without a cellphone (grade school, high school, college). I got married without updating my Facebook page from the altar. I can go for days without watching TV or listening to the radio.
And still I am guilty of ignoring the people around me when I'm on the internet.
The gist of this whole soapbox rant is, I guess, a plea to you (and a promise from me) to spend more time really connecting with the people right around us. A plea and a promise to stop worrying that some 'really important' email or phone call came in while we were 'roaming,' that something really important happened elsewhere rather than right in front of us.
Funny thing is, if you think about it, if we're all online and in touch with complete strangers and we're having a wonderful time with them, THEY are also having a wonderful time with the person we're ignoring who is right in front of us. SOMEONE out in cyberspace thinks our very own loved one is funny, charming, witty, a great person and they're wishing they could be us and spend more time with the person we're ignoring.
Really makes you think, doesn't it? So, if you've read this far, please promise yourself you'll spend more real time with the people you love and less time with the people you're just infatuated with. You might even consider going on vacation and leaving the gadgets home (to have their own vacation). Can't handle a disconnected vacation? Next time you go out to dinner leave the iPod, the Blackberry, the iPhone, the iPad, the Nintendo DS, the plain vanilla cellphone at home.
Create an air of mystery around yourself. 'We couldn't reach you! Your voicemail came on immediately! Where were you, what were you doing?' Heck, every teenage girl knows that not being 'available' makes her more desirous!
Rock & I went on a 10 day honeymoon to Ireland. Most of you know we have 3 kids between us. (And 3 parents as well.) No cellphone. No email. No contact with any of them for 10 days. Did they all survive? Yes. Did they miss us? Probably not that much. Would having been in contact with all of them for those 10 days made our honeymoon a better experience? Definitely NOT! We spent that time together. Devoted to each other.
Try it sometime.