Technology – it is like a Dickens novel; it is the best of times and the worst of times. It can do so many great things for us while simultaneously turning us into zombies who move through life capturing where we are but never really experiencing it.
We have all become chroniclers – more ready to tell and show people what we are doing and experiencing instead of actually doing and experiencing. We rush to post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter without realizing we’re only sharing part of what really happened.
Before you say, “That’s not me!” think about it. Go to any great party, national monument or famous place. Eat at an amazing restaurant. Stand on the shores of a great beach. Fly over the mountains. See your son or daughter take their first steps. See a famous painting or sculpture. See something really unusual or unique. In all of these, do you reach for your phone to document what is going on so you can share it?
We spend so much time trying to record the moment that we forget to be in the moment, to really experience it. All of the emotions, sensations and observations.
Memories come from experiences. Sure, we can look back at a picture, but it would be better to spend less time trying to get the perfect shot in favor of being fully present to what the moment, location and experience is giving you. Smell the aromas. Taste the environment. Connect with the people. Feel the wind, the breeze, the rain, the sun, the snow or whatever else is part of the moment. Each of these make the moment. Each of these contribute to the memory. These are the things a picture or video can’t give back.
Just for a moment, presume you don’t have access to your phone or tablet. You have no way to document this exact moment other than to be fully present to it – to notice every detail using all of your senses. Take a breath and take it all in. This exact moment is making a great recording in your mind that will show up many times in your life. Moreover, this moment will feel full – exciting – joyful. You see more, feel more and experience more than if you act as if you are on the tour bus trying to get the best shot of the Eiffel Tower or a Dutch windmill. More will happen in this moment than you can capture in an image. Be in the moment to gather all it has for you.
Our technology gives us amazing abilities. But just like with anything, there are often challenges that come from too much good. In this case, too much technology can rob us from our personal connections with others (face-to-face conversations) and the things we experience in the moments of our lives. Wouldn’t it be better to share a story of all that you fully experienced instead of quickly showing a photo? Others will experience more of what you experienced as you fill in the details of the more robust experience. Help them feel what you felt. Help them experience what you experienced. That can only happen if you choose to experience it instead of focusing on recording it.
Challenge yourself to put your phone down for a set amount of time during the day. Maybe you start by saying no phones at the dinner table. Maybe it’s for one hour after dinner while you read, do something around the house or pursue a hobby. Each day, add 5 minutes to that time. You’ll find in just a few weeks that your phone is a piece of technology you value and appreciate instead of lean on. You’ll find you have a greater sense of self and your relationships will benefit by putting the phone away. You’ll find you have greater memories of each moment you got back that week.
Give it a try. Tell us how it goes.
By Jay Forte
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