Today I was at a soccer practice for my son. The two teams in play were scrimmaging against one another but I had trouble focusing on either my son or the game; I was too distracted. You see, there was a darling little girl (who couldn’t have been more than one and a half) that repeatedly ran out onto the soccer field. What wowed me about this scenario wasn’t the fact that a toddler had the ability to out-run her mother time and time again, but rather, that the mother might have had a better shot at catching her if she put down her cell phone. I’m not sure if I’ll ever forget how ludicrous it looked to see a mother chase her daughter across an active soccer field without once removing the cell from her ear. It seemed logical to me that if you threw down your phone, you might have the ability to run just a little bit faster, but what do I know?
For one thing, I know that things aren’t any different in my daughter’s ballet class, where a nine-year-old boy is constantly coming up to me, just to talk about his day or tell me what he’s reading. I consistently, week after sad week, glance over at his mom who is either typing on the laptop ever-perched on her knees or texting, nimble-fingered on her blackberry. I can’t help but wonder if this precious boy would take the time of day for me, if she would only take the time of day for him. And as much as I enjoy our chats, I wish she would take a second to look up and realize who she’s missing.
Now I want it to be known, as a disclaimer, that I am guilty here. I am not without my iphone, laptop or ipad for more than a few hours here or there throughout the day. I glance through emails at stop lights, I text between lunch hours and communicate dates, times and calendar events just to keep my husband in the loop of our life. I. Am. Guilty. But I – unlike the digital natives we are desensitizing ourselves to, know it is a problem.
Albert Einstein, widely recognized to be one of the most genius minds ever to walk the Earth, had an opinion on this very topic. Regardless of the fact that he died over 59 years ago, he is still acknowledged to be an authority on almost all things scientific. I think it is meaningful, therefore, to take into consideration that within his life, at the very least some sixty-years ago, he said, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”
“Exceeded our humanity.”
Can you fathom those words? Can you take just a moment to soak in the implication of what that means? That was how he felt then! Imagine … just imagine what Einstein would think now, today. Imagine how he would feel about the soccer mom, or the ballet mom, or any of my students who daily divide their attention from discussion because they have an ipad, a window to endless distraction, right at their fingertips. How would he feel about tweets? Texts? Instagramming and reprogramming the way our minds process, digest and respond. If you look at the recent studies you will note that children of the digital age have brain wave patterns and connections that are completely different than the patterns seen twenty years ago.
Now, don’t misunderstand me; I am a huge fan of technology, but as a tool, not a substitute for engaging and meaningful human experiences. This particular blog post is going to be written in two parts because frankly, I just have too much to say. On that note, I was recently asked to watch a video on YouTube that I would like you too, to watch. It is five minutes that have haunted me, and it is the springboard for the rest of this discussion. Please take a few moments to watch the link below. Stay tuned …