I love keeping in touch with my friends and family, and I’m blessed to have the ability to do so. I have an iPhone. It’s a nifty little gadget that I’m really grateful for. I can virtually connect with other human beings 24 hours a day if I want to. I have access to a constant flow of updates, photos, events, and links. But I would submit that if I never allowed myself to put the phone down, leave it in another room, and miss out on a few messages, the iPhone has the ability to wreck my relationships, my walk with the Lord, and my reputation.
I am a quality time person. There is nothing that fills me up more than some good face-to-face time with a person that I care about. So naturally, it really bothers me when I am trying to have a conversation with someone who is constantly checking her phone. I actually take it really personally. I don’t think anything says “you’re not important” more than virtually disconnecting from someone’s presence, physically demonstrating that the tiny gadget in the palm of your hand is more worthy of your full attention. But unfortunately this has become something I practice in my own life on a regular basis. Who honestly enjoys spending time with a friend or family member who is constantly enraptured in the most recent version of Angry Birds? It makes valuable conversation impossible.
I think about it this way: I love to host dinners and hang outs for the people in my life. Sometimes I will make snacks, or burn candles, or have fun music playing. I do these small things because I want others to feel welcome when they walk into our home. I want to create an atmosphere where my guests feel free to engage in laughter and conversation with my husband and me. Never in a million years would I welcome friends into my house only to say “Hey guys! I’ve been wanting to do some shopping, but you go ahead and make yourselves at home. I’ll be back as soon as I’ve browsed through all of my favorite stores.” That would be absurd! So why has it become completely acceptable for us to treat others with this type of disregard when it comes to our phones? We sit down for dinner with our best friend and decide that it would be a better use of time to browse the Women’s Apparel section on Pinterest.
I’m a fan of social media. And I understand that being “connected” to whatever goes on in cyberspace is really important to some people. I’m not suggesting that you only check your Facebook app when you’re in seclusion on the toilet. But here is what I’m getting at:
Every person you come in contact with is a guest in your presence.
What kind of atmosphere are you creating? Are you putting out the welcome mat? I can return the calls I miss, and send belated responses to hour-old text messages. But I can never re-live my interactions with people. There have been way too many times that I look back and wish I would have been more actively engaged in a conversation with my husband, or more aware of the students sitting near me at Lemontree, and not mindlessly scrolling through my Twitter feed. These are the things that I want to take priority over the latest Condescending Wonka tweet. So if you haven’t heard from me in a few hours, I assure you it’s not because I don’t care! I just want to be the most welcoming hostess to the people in my presence, and I can do that best if I put my phone away.