Pick People Over Gadgets

Oops! If this looks familiar that’s because I inadvertently scheduled it to be posted on September 30th! I didn’t follow my own advice from the 30th to slow down, and as a result I posted Pick People Over Gadgets before I intended. I recently heard Dear Abby’s daughter, Jeanne Phillips, describe her mother, the famous advice columnist as a “do as I say” person who rarely followed her own advice. Just for the record, I try not to be that type of mom…but today proves I need to take my advice and SLOW DOWN! It’s embarrassing to make mistakes that could easily have been avoided by taking the time needed to do it right the first time. Now I hope you’ll not only Slow Down, but Pick People Over Gadgets!

This is meant as a reminder to me as well as you. It’s not uncommon to be in a room with more gadgets than people, and each one offers another form of distraction.

On too many occasions each person is engrossed in their phone, tablet, computer, or even the television instead of interacting with one another. I think it’s even worse that each person isolates himself on his own individual screen because while watching TV has long been a distraction at least everyone was watching the same program and then discussing the game or movie or program.

Unfortunately, with individual screens there’s little reason to interact with the people with whom you share the space. One reading, one playing games, one watching videos, one surfing the web, while another works. No conversation. No common experience. No interaction.

I guess what really caught my attention was an article I read (on my iPad, but when I was at home alone) that described pajamas with dots than can be scanned using an iPhone so that a story can be read. How sad! Instead of a person reading a bedtime story, a child scans his own PJs and listens to the story on the phone?

I’m not advocating no screens when accompanied by others. I know we’ve always read the newspaper or magazines or books with others in the room and since it’s really no different now that you’re reading on a device instead of the traditional paper versions. Electronic games really aren’t much different than crossword puzzles or other paper and pencil games from the past and the distractions created by television haven’t changed much in the last 50+ years, but what has changed…the screens are with us everywhere! Let’s all work to give them a break.

Make people the priority. No screens at dinner…especially when at a restaurant. No screens at the movie. No screens at athletic events, concerts, or other entertainment events. And when you have guests or visit others, turn off the screens. Be in the moment. Enjoy your friends and family.

I know this is difficult, but it’s worth the effort. Our employers demand more and more of our time now that we’re always available on a device, but we can exercise more control. I won’t be leaving my phone behind because I’ll still be taking way too many annoying pictures, but I vow to turn off the screens and pay more attention to people.

I hope you’ll join my and choose people over gadgets.