This week my thoughts are on technology and social media. Specifically smart phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and any other device and sharing site or method that currently has your attention. We, as a nation, are obsessed with sharing our world electronically and I don’t think that is a bad thing. But I also think that us parents need to constantly remind and teach our kids that there is a lot to be said for good, old fashioned, personal interaction – with each other and with the world in which we live. It is imperative that we teach kids the importance of conversation where we connect face to face, without phones or computers.
The Importance of Good Conversation In A Modern World With So Many Distractions
A popular TV commercial right now shows a father and daughter enjoying a majestic nature view. However, the young girl is busy taking pictures with her phone. The dad basically tells her to put the device down and take in the beauty with her own eyes. The message is simple but often one that we over look on a daily basis. Technology undoubtably has made all of our lives easier and more interactive. However, it has also made us obsessed with tech and sharing every moment of our day with the world.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my technology and I am a bit of a tech nerd. My iPhone almost never leaves my side and I am a big user of FB and Twitter. That is why I am always reminding myself to take in the world with all of my natural senses.
I definitely think that we should all be documenting our lives, and the lives of our children, in any way we can. I love the fact that I will have photo and video memories of my son that I can take with me anywhere. But I also love to just stare at him, to watch his face, his expressions, his nuances, and the characteristics that make him unique. Listening to the innocence and tone of his young voice. Watching him run and play and laugh. These are images that I am capturing with my mind and memories that are priceless.
How Talking To Someone Helps
I try everyday to put away all the modern world distractions and just sit and talk with him, face to face. It doesn’t matter what we talk about or for how long. It just matters that we are engaged, enjoying each other, looking at each other, and taking each other in. I want him to remember dad not just from pictures and videos, and not just from experiences that we share together, but also from just talking with each other. Many of my best memories of my dad are not images or events. Instead they are conversations and small bits of wisdom that he left with me. Simple things that he said to me throughout the course of the day.
The Art Of Communicating Face To Face
I also want my boy to be great at the art of communicating with people. Younger generations are losing the ability to simply carry on a meaningful and enjoyable conversation. It is a trait that should not be lost. Just the other day an older gentleman struck up a conversation in an elevator with me about the weather. We talked about seasons and holidays and rain and when the elevator stopped he got off at his floor and left with the words “nice talking to you, have a good day.” My son said to me “Dad, why did he start talking to you out of the blue – do you know him?” I told my son that the man was simply being friendly and that carrying on small conversations with people is all part of the human experience of interaction and kindness.
Now before I tell you the next part, let me first say that my boy knows all the “stranger danger” rules and he follows them extremely well… however, a couple of days later we were in line at a store and (since I was with him) my son simply turned to the elderly lady behind us and said “How are you today, I just thought that I would say hello and tell you to have a good day!” She said thank you and he replied “You’re welcome, I think it is important that people don’t forget to just be nice and talk to each other!”
Later on that night, he said to me “Dad, you know when I said hi to that woman today… that really felt good and I think I made her day a little better. Now I see what you mean!” AH-HA! Success – and one very proud dad!
Conversations That Need To Be Had
With the holidays upon us, it is the perfect time to remind our kids to enjoy the world around them and that they don’t need their devices to do so. We all definitely want to capture and share the season electronically but we also want to put away the gadgets and gizmos and take in the people and places that we see. Smell the Christmas scents, taste the holiday foods, hear the music, see the lights, and touch your loved ones. Holding my son’s hand as we walk to school each day is one of my simple pleasures – and it has nothing to do with iPhone pictures or Facebook updates. As I always say, your children don’t want more presents from you, they want more presence. And in turn, teach them to be more present in the world around them.
Quotes On Importance of Conversation
“One good conversation can shift the direction of change forever.” -Linda Lam
“A real conversation always contains an invitation. You are inviting another person to reveal herself or himself to you, to tell you who they are or what they want.” -David Whyte
“Love without conversation is impossible.” -Mortimer Adler
Thanks for reading this but now – I want you to turn off the computer and the phone and go enjoy your children and your day. Enjoy some in person communication. Happy holidays!