When our children were little, we didn’t have texting or social media to distract us from the happy and not so happy moments of our family’s lives. We lived every moment “live” and not through a lens. I hadn’t thought much about this until my husband and I decided to take a quick trip to Disney World for a weekend get-away. We were at the Magic Kingdom watching the multitudes, heads down and fingers tapping away, while missing the “happiest place on earth.” Toddlers in strollers were playing games on iPads or sitting, waiting on their parents who were texting away while the “magic” passed them by. My husband then commented on how glad he was we didn’t have the technology to distract us from living life to the fullest with our children and enjoying them when they were younger.
We stopped in at Disney Studios before heading home as I wanted to check out a new Star Wars ride. I decided to leave my phone with my husband, who, bless his heart, will not ride anything that moves or makes him think it’s moving. It was somewhat scary to go phone-less as I am rarely ever without it. I worried that our grown kids might need me and call while I’m in line or on the ride, or that I might not be able to find my darling hubby after I get off the ride, and then what if…. I inhaled deeply and realized that the world would go on and all would be okay with or without the phone. I then stepped into the line and looked around and saw that everyone there was on their phone…heads down, shoulders hunched, fingers working fastidiously and I felt all alone.
Then I thought about all the children I had seen that day who might feel lonely while the adults in their lives pecked feverishly at their phones, endlessly communicating with anyone who would answer their texts, eyes glazed over as they read about their friends’ fabulous vacations or sought to give the impression of their perfect Disney vacation on social media. If I felt lonely for a few minutes, in line with other adults on their phones, what about the hours on end some children might feel as their parents do this? By being engrossed in our phones, feeling the need to constantly communicate and keep up with social media we risk alienating those we love and care for.
I want to keep up with those I love who are not close but without alienating my loved ones who are with me. It is so easy to get engrossed texting a friend or getting lost in the lives other people live through social media that I forget that life is going on right in front of me, and I will miss it if I don’t look up. I decided to look at verses that might help me as I ponder this issue and I found these that spoke to me. I Corinthians 10:23-24, 31 (NIV) says, “I have the right to do anything…but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything, but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Wow, this is good! These verses are good on so many fronts. They can be used to gauge many aspects of life…food, drink, phone or other things we use daily that may distract us from glorifying God and concerning ourselves with the needs of others.
I did end up meeting two people in line that day, who didn’t have phones in their hands. One was a woman from MA, is a physician’s assistant and we share many common concerns about children and families. I also met a young woman from NJ who was with her parents. Because I listened, I know that she struggles with anxiety and needs Xanax to help her cope with it. I also know that she likes Werthers cream-filled caramels because she gave me one before we got on our ride. I would have missed the connections with these two people, who matter to God, if I had my head down, phone in hand. I am thankful for my husband making the comment he did and that it has challenged me to put the phone down and listen, to get to know someone who God has placed right in front of me.