I was listening to a talk show recently about how 20 years ago, before the cell-phone, many would get a phone call from a friend and spend hours talking to them. It made me stop and think – I haven’t done that is so long. Remember when you were traveling and told people you would contact them when you got to the hotel?
Somehow we stopped, made time and that wasn’t so long ago. With all our newest resources from phones, tablets and laptops we do things faster and yet it hasn’t given us more time. I meet with many where the 50 to 60 hour work-week is normal. They can be reached on vacations and if I ask them to consider putting the phone away for a 75 min in a yoga class they start twitching from the idea.
I’m not saying I am perfect of course. I have a smart-phone, don’t have the normal 9 to 5 work hours and yes it is hard to stop. Awareness is key. These are amazing times indeed with so many new inventions coming out. “Facetime” is wonderful while I am away to see my family for example.
Yet we are in this fast paced, immediate pleasure seeking world. Ever send an email and start talking to it? “Come on – answer” “I know you are there”. If we don’t hear from them immediately we assume the worst. Then we hear a couple days later from them and all was well. Where did the patience go?
On my phone I have a bunch of applications that I am sure I never use; to be honest I’m not sure how they got there and if they are necessary. I can even use an application to watch my Dog in daycare while I’m away. While I like it I have to stop myself from abusing it – why am I away on vacation watching my dog!
Last December I decided on a trip to see family, to really take time off. I put away the phone and didn’t look at it, text, emails or social media for the week. The first 24 hours was hard, I’m not going to kid you. I would think about it, reach for it and stop myself. After that though I realized a strange thing. I had more time. More time to do things like talk to family, read, take a walk, and de-stress. More importantly the world did not end. I decided to take this into the new year and now once a week to stop and do this. “God had one day off and so should I” I tell others.
Don’t get me wrong, I like social tools just as much as the next person, but now there are new conditions showing up; many experiencing depression from watching others on social networks and not feeling good about themselves. Funny how we feel a profile of a person is really the person. Before it used to be “Superstars” and now it is the ‘girl-next-door’. This includes obsessing over the number of “Friends” we have – as if having many social friends means something. These social tools have created a society where we feel we need to comment, respond and “speak our mind”; letting our ego run away and causing harm to others.
For years I have used the tools to help me learn more and then you have to get up and invest the time in meeting the person. My other career is a recruiter to help people find jobs. I have many around me, even recruiters, who prefer to email than talk. Yet I know even with job interviews the non-verbal items are more important than the verbal. We all profile and watch the body language, eyes, smell, energy, if we know it or not. We make decisions based on this. Don’t believe me? Ever entered a room where you could just feel the tension. You knew you something just happened but didn’t know what had happened.
These days, I have witnessed so many afraid to pick up a phone and talk, which makes me laugh as their “smart phone” is now used for anything but the phone. I’ll say “call them” and the next thing you know they are emailing or texting them. I remember thinking someone in the grocery line was talking to me but they were on their Bluetooth. Now, when we do use our phones to talk, we do so in the weirdest places. I’ve entered bathrooms where people are talking on their phones – yes even women using the toilet while talking. This is when I like to flush and have the sound in the background during their call. Don’t get me started on the cleanliness issues around this; our habits can be gross if we observe them. Additionally I know of those who wear their Bluetooth all the time; call or not; ready for it just in case. I’m waiting for the blinged-out Bluetooth to come out. Just a matter of time.
There are physical conditions popping up as well. I have many come up to me in yoga who hurt in down-dog and want to know other poses they can do instead. I often smile and tell them it isn’t the down-dog that is hurting them – it is your life responding to you so please listen too it. We can modify to make them comfortable but I often ask them to spend the week observing their life from computer time, texting and how they are sitting.
I registered the other day for 500 hour teacher training. I could have registered on-line but had questions and to save time and avoid tons of emails I called them directly. I had the best conversation with this stranger and she helped me with the answers. We also found out some things we had in common and just enjoyed the conversation. This wouldn’t have happened with an email or text and I’m so glad I called.
My sister loves to text and I think it has its place in our society, but often after she has sent me a few text messages, back to back, I pick up the phone and call her. She then laughs and says “I knew you would call”. With the call we can hear tone, expression and listen. Listening is so important and with this dying art, communication is more work than ever to practice listening to the person, answer or responses. Have you ever “chatted” on-line? You can see the person is typing on it and they wrote you a question, you are typing a response but you see they are off typing something else without hearing from you. So who is listening? Are we just busy proving our point? Why not use these tools for what they are great for? I use my IM to tell me that someone is here for a meeting in room 1 while I’m on the phone.
Time and place for everything is all. Even with yoga I have those who like to tell me they use DVD’s for their practice. I understand this however the recordings can’t replace the physical interaction of being with others or having a teacher observe and guide you.
Even now while reading this story you have to ask yourself did you make time just to read it, or was my mind off, jumping around, looking at my email, checking my “Wall”, accepting a new friend to “Yelp” or skipping to the many internet pages that are open? If the answer is “no I was distracted” then know it takes practice to focus. The mind needs just as much of this “workout” as our physical exercise. “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” Yoda
Those that know me have heard me say “Multi-tasking” doesn’t work. You really aren’t tasking or doing one thing well at all. Years ago when I said this to two guys I was working with, they insisted they did this well of course. I tested this by responding with a crazy question as they were checking their messages, acting like they were listening, and they just looked up and agreed with me. I knew I had proven my point but never said anything to them. Quite natural to think we are great at this but you are often missing out on the moment. That or you are busy assigning the blame “I”m ADD”.
I once had a boss, wonderful teacher, who would talk to herself and tell herself to “stay focused”. I find myself talking to myself this way to get back on track. We forget that we can let the tools help us balance – let it go to voicemail! Finish what you were working on. Yes this includes driving. I don’t need laws to tell me what I already know; that it doesn’t make me more aware in the moment if I’m doing something else.
Finding a place and time for the technology in our life. For me l continue to laugh as a plane touches down and phones all over the cabin are coming on. We can’t even wait to arrive at the gate, focus on getting there safely and be compassionate to those around us trying to get their bags. Breathe and remember that the closest exit may be behind you. (remember your options).