The Age of Diverted Attention
It makes me very sad to witness how the latest technology gadgets, particularly our smart phones, have crept into daily routine and distract us from the life going on around us. I intentionally put my phone in my bag and don't look at it, unless there is a very good reason to, whilst my kids are involved in sporting activities. I do this on purpose because I don't want to be distracted by a device that connects me to a world of cyberspace, that quite frankly can wait. I pay a lot of money for these activities and the whole point of involving your children in them is for them to learn and achieve at a sporting activity. I enjoy watching them do this and I don't want to miss those magical moments of success for my kids. When they look up to see if I'm watching I want them to see that I am and that I care.
Today at our usual Sunday morning swimming lessons for Master 8 and Master 5 I couldn't help but notice the inactivity surrounding me. Kids were dutifully swimming in the pool for their lessons whilst the majority of the parents were captivated by their phones; aimlessly scrolling in zombie like fashion, heads down, blinkers on. Some had younger siblings bouncing around them vying for attention, but to no avail. Parents were much more interested in transporting themselves into cyberspace. There were even several holding their babies awkwardly just so they could simultaneously scroll through their phones.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the technology in my smart phone. The reason I got it was I was sick of everyone around me being totally absorbed in their phones and I felt I was missing out. Having Google a couple of finger clicks away is fantastic to search for any information or to settle an argument. Being able to transfer money as you are in the checkout line so you can afford your shopping, brilliant. However, there surely has to be a time and place for this kind of technology. Surely a 30 minute swimming lesson is a time you can put down your phone and live without it whilst you watch your children achieving and learning.
I have always loved watching families interact with each other, I do enjoy watching the baby class at swimming because their adults are in the water with them and enjoying learning with them. It is a lovely thing to watch and I enjoyed it when I did it with my children. Unfortunately, these days when we are out and about with the family, at playgrounds, cafe's, museums, zoos and the like; witnessing the techno distraction is pitiful.
The complaint often made about technology gadgets is against the younger generation who are constantly stuck on social media without speaking to each other in person. Well it's about time we look at our own generation and lift our own heads and take a look at what is going on around us. I'm not against social media, I think it is a fantastic medium to communicate; in fact, in better ways than we ever have in the past. We can communicate online with friends and family throughout the world, I really don't believe that this can be seen as a negative.
If the younger generation communicate better through social media than face to face then so be it, it is their prerogative to do so. I do suspect that their generation will actually foresee many of these social problems in the future and revert back to face to face communication, and learn to put away their devices as it will become socially in-acceptable for certain activities. Or maybe this is just wishful thinking. I am very aware that the younger generation are particularly environmentally conscious and motivated to make changes for the better, so I do have much hope for our future that will be in their hands.
I know I am guilty of being distracted and not paying attention to the things that matter, but I am conscious of this and I try and improve my own behaviour. I think the saddest part for me is when I see this behaviour in others I fear that they don't actually notice that their ignorance of their own children's success may lead to poor relationships in the future.
It is a constant struggle to maintain the balance in our fast paced rhythm of modern life, but surely we can put away technology for, at the very least, 30 minutes once a week. I know I can.