Lately I have been attending a men’s Bible study. At the end of the study, a few men brought up various concerns that they had in their lives. One gentleman said that he was being convicted about the amount of time that he spent in Facebook on his smart phone. I thought at the time, I too felt convicted of the same thing. I chose at that moment though not to say anything, but to listen instead. It made me think of how our society was so rapidly changing.
Last night my wife asked me to read an article that she had run across. It spoke about the fact that some of us spend an inordinate amount of time with our smart phones throughout the day. So much so, that we do not socialize much with those around us. The article went on to say that scientists found that when we interact socially (face to face) with others, that it activates certain parts of our brain that are vital for our growth and well being. But, on the other hand when we spend an inordinate amount of time on our computers and smart phones, that is, with our social networks, those parts of our brain they found are not stimulated.
That article brought back a memory for me of a similar situation that I experienced not so long ago. One night our family went out to a local pizza establishment. We do this when our budget allows and when we can get together with family and friends. This particular night I noticed a young high school age couple entering the pizza establishment and sitting down in a booth not far from our table. I was happy for them and I had hoped that they would enjoy their time together. They both looked anxious and a little nervous. I remembered when I was that age and how nervous I was in going out on a date. My thoughts began to wonder to that time in my life. I had thought all week about my special night and what I would say and how I would say it. I wondered if my date would like the place that I chose, as well as the food that we would eat. My mind raced up until the time that I picked her up. I remembered the nervous moments when seated across from her before the meal came. “What can I talk about that might interest her?”
Now looking back, those were monumental moments that helped me growThey were learning times in how to socialize and relate to another’s life, that is, the person sitting across the table from me. I would not trade those days for nothing. It was during those times that helped form in me the person I am today.
So, what happened to this young couple that was placed near our family? When seated, they immediately got out their smart phones and started to communicate with their online friends while totally ignoring the person across from them. At that moment, the dad in me wanted to go over to their table and tell them that they were missing out on a very special time in their lives, and that it was so important that they spend this valuable time experiencing each other’s presence by talking one to the other. I sadly turned away and looked at my wife who knew what I was thinking. She looked at me with a smile and without a breath, began talking to me and our children about the day’s events. My heart was once again restored, but that moment left me concerned for this new generation that have this, so called, advanced form of communication that keeps them from talking with each other. We are rapidly living in society that stands in waiting lines, all the while linking with others on smart phones. These are people that they may never meet, or for that matter, individuals who are robbing them of that oh so valuable time with those around them. We as a generation are missing out on discovering new friendships; friendships that could have been with the person standing in line next to us.