This past weekend I was traveling by plane; putting me in airports and in contact with a lot more people than I usually am. I always take these opportunities to get a handle on the pulse of our world. To get a sense of how we are doing and what we are making important.
At my first airport, when I walked up to the gate and looked around, every single person (except for an older gentleman reading a book) was face down in their phone. This included the young and the old, people eating, people traveling solo, friends and families.
It is sometimes all I can do to not start screaming or sobbing. Maybe even both at the same time. I just want to yell out, “Stop it! Look up. You’re missing it. You’re missing other people. You’re missing yourself.”
Our love affair with all things screens is destroying us. Curled around our phones as we would a lover, our constant need to bond to something non-human is eroding our connection to Life. To what it feels like to be alive. To what is required, offered and given in relationship. It is poisoning what we believe we need and falsely conditioning us to put our attention, constantly, on the wrong things. As we pay homage to these shiny objects of ours, something non-living by the way, we too, become less than the living.
Perhaps, worst of all the atrocities when it comes to our cell phone use, is how our fascination/obsession/addiction has annihilated what it means to love. What it takes to create a bond with another being; whether for a momentary exchange with a stranger or a lifetime of living together with someone you love.
Our love used to be reserved for things that are alive. People and animals that we were in direct relationship to, and that gave to us as we gave to them. Bonds that were forged through all the moments of life; times you wanted to be there and times you didn’t. Times when it was hard and times when it was glorious. Times when it was boring, awkward and inconvenient.
And while we will shake our heads when we hear of the statistics around what is happening to our children in this regard, of the mental illness and the all around despair linked to their cell phone use, still, we do nothing but give lip service to what is happening. Unwilling as we are to take a bold and definitive stance that says our children and their capacity to relate is precious enough that we will take a stand. That we will fight for what it is they come to see as worthy of their love and attention.
It has struck me many times over the years how we really do not fully comprehend the way that we are crippling ourselves and our children by making something non-human the center of our lives. And while most of us would say it’s not my phone that I am most committed to, when you look around, that is not at all the message that is being conveyed to the rest of us.