Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hello, Are You There?

Hello, Are You There?

Thursday night - a weekend event - forty years ago. Drawing attention to how habitualized people have become to distractions the speaker asked us to remove our watches and place them in a basket kept at the podium. Sure enough as the evening unfolded people caught themselves glancing at empty wrists as thoughts related to time entered their thinking.

The simplicity of the exercise made it profound - at least for me. "How long have I been sitting here?" (a glance at my wrist). "I wonder what Charlotte's doing? (a glance at my wrist). "What time are we supposed to start tomorrow?" (a glance at my wrist) --- You get the picture. In short order the wristwatch thing drew awareness to the thoughts that otherwise I would not have realized were so frequent.

That weekend was about accepting responsibility as an adult regarding my thoughts, and what these thoughts produce in my daily life, and who the people are who surround me, and what they really are about. No doubt staying on schedule is important - but it's not the only thing that's important.

Saturday - a weekend event - one month ago. Drawing attention to how habitualized people are to distractions I asked folks to turn off their mobile phones during the program sessions I was conducting, and offered that they might soon begin to notice how much control their mobile phones have on behavior, mood and attitude. Then I suggested an experiment - for those who would be willing - put away the phone for two full days to see what functioning and communication and relationships would be like without a mobile phone. In other words, try to function without one for a while.

The result? Lots of chuckles at first. Most people turned them off. A few put them on vibrate. Some made no effort at all. The rest of us knew who was who in as "blings" and "beeps" and "jazz" and "whistles" played out a Pavlovian sideshow. Every couple hours we took our bathroom breaks, and less frequently our meal breaks. Hands darted to the pocketed phones. Feet carrying bodies dashed across the room and jittering fingers scrambled for purses and brief cases nurturing the prized devices. Within seconds folks had them plastered against their ears - some had one at each ear.
Interesting? Odd? Strange? Well maybe not - we see it all the time. Walk into any restaurant and count how many people are on their mobile phones, talking or texting or playing video games. We are a world distracted - and some would offer a world that is kept distracted. This is no small deal, in fact it's kind of scary. It's not a USA thing. It's not a China, Mexico, Russia thing. It's nearly everywhere, even in some of the most remote places on our planet.

Consider watching that couple sitting across from you in the restaurant while they're on a (what could have been romantic) date, and one of them stops mid conversation as the vibration or the bling of a Samsung or iPhone demands (yes ... DEMANDS) attention. And with that, the device holder (it's actually sitting on the table next to the salad fork) says, "Excuse me a moment, will you?" - then answers and has a chat. Actions speak loudly. Doubtful you'd hear the following said with words, "I'm sorry (well maybe not really) but my device here is telling me something more important than you (at least it could be?) is happening right now, so I've got to put you (miss or mister human being) on pause a bit because (after all) you're in second place right now." Sad? Yes, but it's just been said with a body in action.

The mobile phone (as with the wrist watch of forty years ago) isn't the issue. We are the issue ... or at least we could be and should be the issue. Our mental discipline. Our potential. Relating and connecting, even over seemingly mundane things that could be magnificent and terribly interesting when we slow enough to attend to them. 

There are lots of studies. But the studies will remain studies and our individual and collective human potential will remain unrealized potential as long as we don't act and practice something different.

More here --> here

And --> here

And then --> here as well.

Sunday - the end of that weekend program - one month ago. A young man (we'll call him Gustavo) walks up with a big grin and says, "I've been living totally distracted, and I'm a really smart guy. I didn't used to be that way. But, more and more I've gotten caught up in technology to a point that it feels like I can't relax, like time is getting away from me, like I'm on a coffee high all the time. It's to a point that I'm taking medication to slow me down. Thanks for asking me to put away my mobile phone."

Will it last for him? I don't know. I hope so.

© Lance Giroux, April 2015

No comments: