So have you ever had a one-sided conversation with someone? You know, when you’re talking to a friend and their completely focused elsewhere and just keep saying, “Uh-huh.” Annoying right?
Well, does it seem to frustrate you more when their eyes are drawn into the deep, mystical, magic, of a blue screen? When their thumb just keeps scrolling on their touch screen and their face is glued in that trance. Two friends of mine called it, “Blue Face” or something like that because once that person puts his or her phone on…BOOM! They are gone from this planet we call Earth.
I challenge you to walk into a mall today. What do you see? Hundreds of people walking with their heads cast down with “Blue Face.” (I may use that phrase now.) Go for a nice dinner with friends, and you will notice many people eating with one hand and texting with the other. I mean seriously, isn’t dinner a time to spend enjoying good food and one another’s company? Apparently, this no longer remains true.
Now, a good majority of people no longer need this socialization because of media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Now please don’t close this page yet! I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with social media. In fact, some of my dearest friends have accounts with these sites. However, these people are my dearest friends because they make the time to see me. To care and be involved in my life through the many ups and downs we all experience.
So the question is: Does this obsession with the internet and electronic devices cloud our social skills?
I use this word obsession because it’s the truth. I challenge all who are reading, to go for a walk in a busy place and count how many people you see walking with their phones. You may lose fingers!
We live in a society today that counts our followers and comments not our true friends. Now I understand that feedback is important. I for one truly hope to get a lot on this blog. However, if I don’t it’s not the end of the world. Because I know that my family and friends will always support me. I call it my bridge because even if I shoot for the stars and fail, I will fall on my bridge (my family) and that is what true support is. In my book, family and friends are the same thing. Do you have a bridge or are you being anyone’s bridge?
Now, how does this tie in with nature? Well, research tells us that the average person spends 8 hours and 41 minutes on their electronic device. You can re-read that if you have to. I confess that I did. This time could be spent at work, studying, sleeping, or making a difference in someone’s life. Yes, the world is not all about the pronoun, I.
For those of you who perhaps are having a hard time understanding this, let me ask you a few questions:
When was the last time you went on a picnic?
When was the last camping trip you took?
How many wild animals have you seen in their natural habitat?
When did you last stop to breath in that sunset?
When did you last stop to pack up your stuff and tell the kids, “Let’s go exploring!”
When did you last look past the phone, computer, or schedule calendar to see the sun shining outside?
For some, you can answer many of these questions but some of you can’t. Let’s go over some quick tips to help you beat this electronic addiction.
1. Practice Kindness
Make it a purposeful act to do something nice for someone. Maybe your neighbor’s car broke down and he or she could really use help running errands. Perhaps you know a couple who hasn’t been out in ages. You could offer to babysit. Help your co-worker if they’re having trouble with the latest assignment.
Write down a list of all the ways you can think of to be a blessing to others. After all, it starts with you.
2. Take Time Out To Really Enjoy Nature
No, I don’t mean watching a video on YouTube. Some of you may be tempted to cheat! Go for a walk by your closest park. Eat your lunch outside when the weather is cooperative. Make an exploring day with the kids, where you all go outside to discover something cool about Nature.
Walk the dog, ride your bike, exercise, or just lay in the grass. If we can come up with the idea to waste 8 hours on the computer then we can come up with plenty of great ideas on how to spend 1 hour doing something beneficial for our bodies.
I remember figuring this out when I went walking through the Nature Center preserve. Focus more on listening. That’s right listening. We have two ears and only one mouth, so perhaps we’re supposed to use the sense of hearing more. Listen to all the sounds you hear on your walks outside and record them in a journal. Listen to the sound of nothing. For some reason when you’re in Nature, silence is the most pleasing sound.
Also, listen more to your loved ones. Listen to their cares, worries, concerns, or dreams. Listen to your children’s feelings and you might find yourself understanding them better. Listen to the words that your loved one may have wanted to say, but didn’t because they felt like they couldn’t express themselves to you.
Just listen and you’ll realize a huge change in the way people respond to you and the way you perceive the world.
Now that those easy tips are out of the way, I hope you all understand a little more of what I mean. At our Nature Center, we are constantly creating new programs for students, children, seniors, and families to embrace time together while enjoying the peacefulness of Nature right here in the city.
We encourage people to unplug their devices and go for a walk, read a story by the fireplace, and participate in the many activities we hold for free. I am constantly a witness to what that does for them…by the smiles on their faces.
I will leave you with one more thing to imagine. Imagine a room full of people in a waiting room. Many of them are probably on their phones. Now imagine what would happen if everyone turned off their phones and just started talking to each other. It’s a lovely thing to imagine, but also very hard. You may think, “What would I say to that person?” or “What if I look silly?”
My answer is, “Who cares?” At least you’d be doing something different and you’d leave your mark on this world as the one who tried to be kind. Kindness is a language everybody speaks.
So please remember, you can’t search for the forest on YouTube and you can’t Google kindness. You will find that from your bridge, who knew you even before you knew how to text.