The very tools that are supposed to make us more productive and effective have become weapons of disconnection and inattention. Cell phones and email are wonderful when used in moderation. Cell phones can help us stay connected with our children. Email can help us stay in touch with friends who are thousands of miles away. However, we have come to rely on them in ways that makes real connection and being present in the moment almost impossible.
How many times have you seen two people sitting at a table together in a restaurant and both of them are on their cell phones talking with other people? We have taken multi-tasking to the extreme. How many of us when walking down the street use that time to make a phone call? We do it because we feel that we are being productive by making use of time that would otherwise be wasted.
I find that if I talk on my cell phone while I walk down the street I can’t pay full attention to either my physical surroundings or to the person to whom I am speaking. I am virtually in two places at the same time and unable to be completely present in either.
When, on the other hand, I allow myself to just be in the moment, those are the times that I am aware of things like seeing the color of the clouds as the sun is setting or the face of an adorable child rolling past me in a stroller.
I used to be glued to my email. Even in the evening, when my daughter was home from school, I would sit at my desk reading and responding to email. If she talked to me, I would respond but certainly was not present with or attentive to her. I vividly remember the day she let me know that. She came up to me, put her hands on my cheeks and turned my face to face hers. Then, she said, “Mama, please pay attention to what I’m saying.” Who’s waiting for your attention?
Quilt of Humanity ModelTM
Depending on how they are used, cell phones and email can be either threads that tie together cloths in the Quilt of Humanity or they can eat away at the threads that hold us together.