I went to a concert with a friend last week. We could see the stage from where we were standing but from our distance the performers all looked about six inches tall. Fortunately, there were two large video screens positioned above us on either side; we looked at these when we wanted to see close-ups. Periodically, the screen also showed shots of the audience. At one point, the screen showed a sea full of people with their smart phones held up to capture the moment on video. My friend turned to me and laughed. "All those people taking videos are actually missing the show," she said. "I know," I replied, laughing. "That's our entire society these days. Nobody lives in the moment anymore." We turned back to watch the performance.
In that brief exchange, my friend and I captured a profound truth about our world today: people are distracted. I realize I'm not the first to make this observation but my experience at the concert really drove it home. We - I guess I mean we as a society -- are missing out on life! Sometimes we even miss out on life in order to share with other people what we're doing at the moment - to text a friend, to snap a photo, or to record a video to prove we were there. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of experiencing the moment, of being in it, of enjoying it for all it's worth. Maybe that's why so many of us stay constantly on the move - each experience is really only half an experience. Nothing we do leaves us feeling fulfilled. Being half present means we have to do twice as much to get the same amount of enjoyment.
I'm not against the advancement of technology, not by any means. I am grateful for the virtually immediate access to knowledge and information that technology makes possible. I value how easy it is to stay in touch with the people I love. I enjoy taking advantage of the ease with which I can identify and connect with other people all over the world who share my interests. I even appreciate having instant access to mindless entertainment. We are all fortunate to live in an age where these things are possible.
Technology should enhance our lives, not distract us from them. It's not possible to have a conversation with the person next to you while simultaneously playing on your phone -- you can't fully engage. I've seen people doing things on their phone while they're supposed to be listening to their children read. People have been hit by cars because they're looking at their phones or Ipads instead of at their surroundings. I've even seen children ask to play on their tablets instead of playing with other children sitting right next to them.
I really hope we start paying more attention...