Drama. That is how I would describe the last 10 years since cell phones with email have been around. Everything has suddenly become urgent, catastrophic and life impacting. But not really. Yet this is a descriptive of how we as a society have started to react to situations.
How many times today alone have you uttered the words "Oh My God!" when you spilled some coffee? Or my favourite line (that I seem to utter quite often), "I am THE worst parent ever!" simply because I forgot to pick up a birthday gift for the 15th birthday party your child has that week. Over-dramatizing every situation has become common practice.
We have become a society of over-responsive, ultra dramatic people requiring immediate gratification. We spend more time responding to texts and emails and updating our social media accounts than we do talking to our friends face to face and enjoying our down time.
OK, maybe that's a controversial statement, but I would venture a guess that the last time you were out for a meal with a friend or family member, you or they likely checked a phone for messages and one of you likely said "hang on, I just need to respond to this quickly." Do you really NEED to respond that message? What would happen if you waited until the end of your meal when you and your dinner partner had said goodbye? Probably nothing.
Texting and driving. This is another example of how we are so motivated by our sense of immediate gratification. What would happen if you actually waited until you pulled over to the side of the road before responding to a text or email. Or if you waited until you arrived at your destination to actually read that message? Probably nothing. If the world is coming to an end, you will likely get a call from someone, but I'm guessing they won't be texting or emailing you to alert you of that catastrophic event.
With the advent of smartphones and social media, we have lost our sense of priorities. It's not that we don't know who the most important relationships in our lives are, it is that we have started taking them for granted. Picture a family night, with both parents glued to their smartphones while their kids are speaking to them. The parents provide the occasional nod of the head to pretend they are listening to their children. Has this happened in your home? I'm guessing a large percentage of you will be nodding your heads. What precisely is happening on your smart phone that can't wait? If you were watching that scene in a movie, and you saw the disappointment in the children's faces while they were just trying to get a little attention from their parents, you would probably be irate with the parents and sympathetic to the children. Yet we do the same on a daily basis to our families.
Cat Stevens wrote a song about this very topic entitled "Cat's in the Cradle," and although there were no smartphones when the song was written, nor email, Cat Stevens was talking about the same challenges. We are teaching our children and the people we love the most that they are not our priorities so don't be surprised when they get older and show us the same disregard.
The world likely wont come to an end if you don't immediately respond to a tweet or an email or update your status. Spend the time exchanging status updates with the people around you, giving them the time and respect that they likely deserve. When you are in the car, spend the time talking to your family, listening to the radio and singing at the top of your lungs, or just take a few minutes to enjoy the quiet. Enjoy family night or family time with a focus on your family because one day when you are looking back on your life, its not your smartphone that you will be remembering but the memories you created with your family.