There’s a video making the rounds on Facebook right now titled Look Up. It implores us to “look up” from our phones because we could be missing a lot. It makes a good point, but I think it exaggerates.
Yes, if you never look up from your phone, you could miss meeting someone walking by, someone who could become the love of your life. But you could have missed that person by reading a book, stopping to smell some flowers, or choosing a different route that day. The phone is not to blame.
I’m so grateful for computer and internet technology. If not for the internet, my husband and I probably would not have met. He was living 250 miles away from me at the time we met via that early internet service provider, Prodigy. If not for texting technology I would not be able to easily and freely chat with my mom nearly every day as we do. I joke that I’m still living on Pacific Standard Time with her, despite living in Virginia now, because my family often eats dinner late and my parents eat early, so my mom and I chat on Yahoo Instant Messenger while making our respective dinners.
As I type this blog post my daughters are playing Minecraft with a friend who lives 15 miles away. We get together in real life too, but thanks to the internet sometimes they can get together on stay-at-home days too.
Yes, the video was specifically about smartphones, but my most interesting examples are of internet technology in general. As for my use of my iPhone, which I’ve had since November, I think it’s wonderful to be able to carry a computer with me. I think we really should call the device something better than “phone.” I use it far more often for reading, making notes, reminders, and looking up information. Of course there are times we ought to leave the phone in pocket or purse, but when we come across a group of people looking at their phones we can’t assume that they weren’t just having a lively discussion a moment ago. Maybe they’re they’re checking in with family members, looking up something to support their discussion, or inviting more people to join them. Or maybe they just feel like doing something else instead of visiting at the moment; nothing wrong with that.
Just because we use our phones and devices doesn’t mean we’re not spending time together as well, sometimes even WITH those devices. One night last week, my husband, my girls, and I were spending time together, all using devices. Rhiannon and Robert were taking turns choosing music videos on YouTube while Robert, Caroline, and I had THREE Words With Friends (Scrabble) games going on at once, each of us playing with each of the others.
It’s not a bad thing. It’s great that today we have another way to play (and learn and research and communicate).