To make a sweeping statement, I think there’s no doubt we all appreciate our smart phones, our tablets, computers, etc, and recognise the crucial role the online world is playing within our evolution. With an internet connection, we need never be alone, and any information we require is available within seconds. This infrastructure enables us to connect with others, share our thoughts and photos instantly, and see the smiles of those we miss. However, there’s one thing, I believe, that’s key to remember as we make use of the technology we’re so fond of, and that’s to ensure we balance how we spend our time.
Don’t you find it a little sad to walk into a room and see everyone gazing down at their phones? Yes, it’s nice to interact online, but by constantly looking down, we must be careful we’re not letting the physical life (and the wondrous synchronicities that can arrive during the day) pass us by.
How many times have we heard of people meeting strangers, Synchronicity popping out of nowhere and delivering the exact words they needed to hear? Synchronicity really does work in this magical way, and whilst, yes, you can research everything online, often, there’s information you don’t even realise you’re missing – so you can’t type words into a search engine to trigger its release.
Look out, look out, wherever you are…
When we look at a screen, strangers are highly unlikely to disturb us, for the phone acts as a barrier between us and our immediate surroundings. There are so many opportunities for conscious conversation just awaiting our participation, that we must make sure we balance looking online, with looking out at what (and who) is right in front of us.
This healthy balance also applies to our home-life, maybe even more pertinently than anywhere else. How common is it nowadays for families to return from school and work, and the kids watch cartoons while the adults check their virtual notifications? Whilst again, there’s nothing wrong with watching cartoons, nor participating online, balance is critical. Many of us are concerned by the amount of time our kids spend with screens, but do we apply the same restrictions onto ourselves? When the kids go to bed, do you limit the amount of time you let yourself watch TV or do your thing on your laptop? When we make a screen the focus of our attention, we have again placed a barrier between ourselves and those around us, which can limit the natural flow of conversation.
To have the healthy relationships we spiritually crave, we must balance screen-time with conscious conversation, games, physical and creative activities, and outings in nature as a family. We must nurture our relationships by providing sufficient opportunity to have fun together every single day – not just on a Friday night or on a Sunday once all the chores are done.
Instead of letting your child watch a programme that tells them a story, make sure you’re the one who reads to them – a story told (in my world) always comes with a cuddle, as you snuggle in closely so everyone can see the pictures – and that comfort, that alone time with you, where your kids realise that you are the sole focus of their attention, is more valuable than the story itself could ever be.
When we’re out for dinner with someone, or in a meeting maybe, and their phone dings, it’s currently seen as polite to wait for them to acknowledge whoever’s contacting them, and we pause, anticipating their return to our conversation. However, I’d like to suggest that politeness would really advocate the person only replies if it’s an emergency – otherwise they should wait until after your engagement to get back to the third party. Telling the person you’re with, “That can wait until later,” assures them that they’re the only person you’re interested in speaking to right now, and that you wish to consciously participate in your encounter.
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