My sons sprinted into the woods, gathering up pine cones and sticks.
They found the skull of a long-dead deer. They looked for animal tracks and listened for birds.
I trailed after them through the gorgeous autumn colors, thinking, just for a moment, of all the things I should be doing at home and online. And then I took a deep breath and let those thoughts go.
I decided to just live in that moment, enjoying time with my boys in the crisp fall air. No phones beeping at me. No deadlines. The only demands on me were my kids sharing their discoveries with a “Look over here!” and “Check this out!”
It was a nice afternoon, and it made me realize that we don’t have enough of those. We spend so much of our time connected to gadgets instead of being connected to nature, instead of connecting to each other.
Every holiday program at my kids’ school, I see parents holding up their phones and iPads making bad recordings. They’re focused on “getting the shot” instead of giving their children their full attention. At parades, parents are so busy taking selfies and photos and video that they barely notice the children gathering candy at their feet. At the ball game, so many pictures are being taken, but no one is appreciating the crowd, the lights, the sounds of the big game.
We are addicted to our gadgets and we are missing out on so much.
The picture-perfect images we see on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest make us feel broke and inadequate. We seldom stop to think about the truth behind those images. We only see the image others are trying to portray. We don’t see the mess just outside the camera frame. We don’t see the hurt inside the photographer.
Our technology has made us consumers who are always after the next best, new, different thing. We sacrifice time to the trivial and money to the ridiculous.
Our constant connectivity is costing us. It’s costing us money. It’s costing us our relationships. It’s costing us our planet.
We need to find a better way.
Now, I’m not saying that technology is evil. I love my satellite tv and and my smartphone just as much as the next person. I believe it can be an amazing tool that can help do all kinds of amazing things.
What we need is moderation. We need to find a balance between using our gadgets as tools and letting them them suck the life out of us.
It costs nothing turn off your technology and take a walk outside. It costs nothing to put down your phone and have a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Unplug from technology and plug in to the world around you.
The best gift we can give is ourselves. Making meaningful connections will make you a richer person.
And I don’t know about you, but I want to be richer.