We live in an instant society.
Between technology and social media, pretty much everything is right at our fingertips. On our computer or our smart phones we can receive instant notifications of phone calls, texts, emails, Tweets, Facebook messages, blog comments… The list seems endless.
We’ve grown accustomed to the firehose of information and connectedness. And we think we need to know now so that we don’t miss out or get left behind.
Sadly, though, that often leaves casualties. And the casualties are typically the people we care about the most.
We’ve lost the art of being present.
Have you let your virtual world overrun your real world? When you’re with your family or friends, or even in a meeting, are you constantly checking your phone? Answering texts? Sending out Tweets?
I’ve been guilty of this.
And I’ve been really challenged lately to be more intentional about being present.
There are certainly some people with whom it’s totally welcomed and fine to Tweet and text in their company. There are situations where it’s completely acceptable to do so. Until a real (personal, deep, or serious) conversation starts. Then it’s time to step away from the phone and fully engage right where you are.
The people that we interact and engage with “in real life” deserve our full attention.
They are worth our focus, our eye contact, and our complete mental and emotional attention. Being physically present isn’t enough. We need to train ourselves in the art of being fully present.
There are a few things I’ve started doing to help me be present with those around me.
- I’ve set the phone and text alerts for my family members to be different than everyone else’s. That alleviates the need to check my phone whenever it beeps to make sure I’m not missing something important from my family. I would know by the sound alone if it’s a call or text I need to check on right away.
- I keep my phone upside-down on the table when I’m engaging with people. This helps me avoid the temptation to check it every time it lights up or beeps/buzzes.
- Whenever possible, I switch my phone to vibrate. This is especially important in one-on-one meetings (business or personal) and during special family times (hello, date night!).
- I keep Twitter notifications for @replies switched off. I simply don’t need that many constant alerts, plus it drains my battery life unnecessarily. I’ll check my mentions when I sign into Twitter, and I can reply then. Nothing on Twitter is urgent enough to need to know now.
Jim Elliot said it best: “Wherever you are, be all there.”
I still struggle to balance all this out, but I’m being intentional to work on it.
How about you?