Vail Daily column: Disconnecting to stay connected
Ryan Summerlin October 10, 2012
Wow, the other day my whole family was called out by my mother-in-law. She had been staying with us for a while and one evening she had come into the living room where she saw everyone in the family with their head down and iPhone, Droid, laptop, or iPad in their hands.
Have we really gotten that bad? In retrospect, and unfortunately the answer is yes.
Here we were on a night when I wasn’t traveling and my children weren’t working at their part time jobs or hanging out with their friends. We were all together in one room and yet totally disconnected.
Now typically we leverage the power of technology to stay in touch with calls, Skype video calls, loving text messages, and postings and messages on Facebook because of our conflicting schedules. But I guess we had gotten so used to being connected virtually, maybe, just maybe, we had become disconnected in reality.
So I wanted to see if we were the only family or people prioritizing our lives around technology and toys instead of focusing on what is truly important, a real connection to one another. And I am sure this will not surprise you, but almost everywhere I looked I found similar behaviors.
On a recent trip I was late for a connecting flight and although I barely made it to the gate on time I was the last one to board the plane. And since I was still stinging from the reality of being disconnected to my family I was more aware and glanced at people sitting in their seats. Not too long ago you would see people engaging in conversation and getting to know their seatmates for the next few hours. Now, as I made my way through the cabin I witnessed more than half the passengers with their ear buds already plugged in, heads down looking at their phone, Kindle or iPad.
Upon arriving at my destination and waiting to meet my party at a restaurant I saw a family very close in number and ages to my own family. As they sat waiting for their name to be called by the hostess, Dad was pacing near the door on a call, Mom was texting, the eldest daughter had her iPod on and ear buds in, and their son was playing a game on his smart phone.
Although I found many other similar situations it did not provide me with any comfort nor validate or vindicate the inappropriate use of technology in my own home. I had already made a solemn commitment to never text and drive, never, not ever. Well now I am making the same decision and commitment to never text, email, play backgammon on my phone, or cruise around Facebook if it means missing another opportunity to communicate, connect, or just be with my family or friends.
My good friend and author Billy Cox shared a quote with me: “Every minute we spend doing the wrong thing, is one less minute we have to do the right thing.” Don’t get me wrong, I think that technology is awesome, great fun, and absolutely increases productivity when used properly. But going forward, I am going to really consider how and when I will use it, asking myself, “Is this one more minute of doing the wrong thing that will rob me of one more minute of doing the right thing?” Kudos to my mother-in-law, for calling us out. Thanks, Mom.
How about you? Has technology taken over your relationships or do you disconnect to stay just a little more connected to your family and friends? I would love to hear all about it at firstname.lastname@example.org and I know that when we do connect it will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker, and CEO of www.candogo.com. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.